Ancient tales are the warp and traditional Celtic music the woof in this vivid vocal tapestry that melds tandem storytelling and atmospheric harp and concertina background music. Presented by Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder, the three wolf stories in this delightful collection were recorded before an audience in Vermont. The folk stories featuring wolves "worthy of our love and respect" range from humorous to touching to dramatic."Hungry Wolf's Lucky Day" is the droll tale of an old wolf who gets foiled in every attempt to find breakfast. Though some may quibble at the added-on ending, this practice is firmly within the oral tradition, in which stories are shaped, reshaped, and handed down. "St. Albe's Wolf Mother" is a tender story of an abandoned baby raised by wolves. Years later the child (now a prince) repays his wolf mother's kindness by protecting her and his wolf siblings from hunters. The concluding "The Dog and the Wolf" is a cautionary tale about (among other things) the deleterious effects of wine. Befriended by a dog and concealed under a banquet table, a wolf insists on partaking of the grape, ultimately giving in to his urge to "sing," scaring the guests. Audience reaction (mostly laughter) seems to relate more to the presenters' facial expressions and gestures than the stories themselves. Nevertheless, the lively tempo, skillful pacing, and interlaced voices of Jennings and Ponder make for a thoroughly satisfying, family-friendly audio.
- Kristi Elle Jemtegaard