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Here is a review I wrote about a podcast of wholesome and entertaining stories for children, entitled "Sophie and Sebastian": http://sophieandsebastian.com
Many of my Facebook contacts have children or grandchildren, and will almost certainly love these short and charming stories that you can download or listen to for free online.
HEART-WARMING STORIES FOR THE CHILD IN ALL OF US
Each episode of the Sophie and Sebastian podcast features an independent story of around 10 minutes in length, told by the author himself, Conrad Van Dyk. I know the creator of this series personally, and have long admired his ability to create entertaining and heart-warming stories for children. So I am very pleased to see him share his story-telling gifts with this delightful project, and recommend these stories and this podcast most enthusiastically!
The adventures of Sophie and Sebastian will especially be enjoyed by children, who will readily relate to the main characters and quickly find themselves spell-bound by the warm narrative. But anyone who has experienced childhood will be able to identify with Sophie, which is to say that these stories speak to the child in all of us. Drawing on his own experience as a father, the author has the unique ability to take us back to the joys and innocence of childhood, and enables us to view the world through the eyes of a child. As one ventures from the security of home and family, meets neighbours, and explores the outside world, one will encounter people, objects, and experiences that stir up joys as well as fears, but even more, a sense of wonder and fascination. The life of a child is typically unburdened by the complexities and responsibilities of adulthood, and it is this world of finding joy in simple things, a world of imagination and discovery, that lies at the heart of these stories. long gold prom dresses
I recommend starting at the very beginning by listening to the initial episodes first, to best enjoy discovering Sophie's world and the characters that inhabit it. The recurring characters that populate these stories are endearing, particularly friendly neighbours like the elderly Mrs Wilson, and seniors Bert and Fran, whose kind and neighbourly spirit almost seems reminiscent of a by-gone era. There is something refreshing about an engaging children's story which doesn't need to put electronic gadgets in the hands of the child protagonists or send them on expensive outings in order to amuse them, but instead allows them to enjoy simple pleasures like a cup of hot chocolate, having a bath, dressing up in costume, and building relationships in the community, and where the focus is on family, neighbours, and the outdoors. As such, these stories are crafted against the wholesome backdrop of a stable and loving family which understands something of what is truly important about life.
Siblings and parents occasionally make an appearance as well, but the real stars are naturally Sophie and Sebastian themselves. Younger brother Sebastian serves as a delightful foil for the imaginative Sophie, and whenever he does have something to say, it will often put a smile on your face. One of the strengths of these stories are the many moments of warm humour. As any parent knows, children sometimes do say and think the darnedest things, and you'll hear many delightful ones here. As for Sophie, her imagination will rarely fail to entertain you, especially when she's a pirate captain in the bath or coming up with clever sentences for Opposite Day.
The audio recording is clear, with the whistling musical intro and outro serving as charming bookends at the start and finish of each episode, and setting the tone for what lies in between. The story-telling style is measured and articulate, and having these stories being told by the mouth of the creator himself adds to their authenticity and warmth. The diction is simple and straight forward, so that it can easily be understood by children, and yet is very well-crafted. Within the confines of a vocabulary that is well within the reach of young children, the creator still produces descriptions that are colourful and imaginative, and his skill with the English language is evident with good use of similes and metaphors, especially in the descriptions of the setting at the start of each story.
The hallmark of a good children's story is that it can be enjoyed by all ages, as acclaimed writer C.S. Lewis once said: "A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story." Measured by that standard, these are wonderful stories that speak to the child in all of us, and I highly recommend the Sophie and Sebastian stories for families and children; and in fact for anyone who has ever once been a child.
Head to the official website to check out the Sophie and Sebastian podcast for yourself:
Disclaimer: I first met Conrad Van Dyk when I lived in London, Ontario, and he became a good friend. He currently teaches children’s literature at a university in Alberta, and is a member of the Canadian Reformed Church of St Albert. Although I know the creator, this is an unsolicited review that reflects my honest opinion after listening to the the first ten episodes of Sophie & Sebastian with some of my own children.