I can't tell if it was the writing or the reader, but I was distinctly underwhelmed. It could not hold a candle to the Edith Nesbitt books I listened to a while back. First off, Sean just doesn't work as a storyteller for children. He tries hard, perhaps too hard, but he just doesn't have the warmth and ... love, is it? ... you need for the job. Sean's got a bit of the gay voice lilt* which doesn't help. Instead of being immersed in the story, you wonder about Sean. It was like having a flute play the saxophone line in a jazz piece. The voice artist worked hard, but it wasn't right.
Since the performance moved slowly and words were simple, I was able to imagine reading the prose as he went along to separate the performance from the story. What I really wondered was how it would sound if a woman read it.
My mom was (and still is) a great mom. She read me lots and lots of stories when I was a child. As I was sick a great deal of the time, she had lots and lots of chances to do so. She would even do a very nice, British accent when she read things like Peter Rabbit. There was so much love and warmth in her reading! That's certainly why I associate children's books with happiness.
It's got to be a woman reading the book. My Air Force pilot dad, who was away much of time, would tell me stories that he made up, but he didn't read to me and that was probably a good thing. His masculine voice and firm diction worked for his farm-based stories, but it would have been completely out of place elsewhere. Children's books need a woman reader or the spell is broken.
Just now, I'm walking through the Audible versions of Oz, trying the sample excerpts to find a good one. Meh. There are lots and lots read by young women, but they don't seem to work, either. You need that rich, mature, woman's voice. You need a mom's voice.
|A first edition.|
* - I despise identity politics with a passion, but I would argue that there are vocal characteristics to certain groups. Men and women have different voices, blacks and whites have different voices and, sometimes, gays and straights have different voices. It's not that it carries with it a personal judgment, it's that some voices don't work for some things. For example, a black simply must be the voice artist for a reading of Uncle Remus or the whole thing can be dismissed out of hand.