This lovely tale of growing up in a small Scandinavian village held the attention of my 5 and 6 yr old sons for the whole 2 hours+. I was surprised.
But beware, the little girl narrator does pretty much say "I used to think Santa was real but now I know that it is just the parents pretending" so be prepared to cough loudly during that part of the 'Christmas' chapter if your children are still believers.
This is clearly marked “Unabridged”. This is simply not true. When I knew the book as a child the two passages I found intensely moving were the Field Mice’ Carol (“Who was the first to sing Nowell?/ Animals all as it befell./ Joy shall be theirs in the morning”) and the profound mysticism of the chapter “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”. Both these passages are omitted, as is the entire Chapter “Wayfarers All”. (Other omission include all the songs, including the delightful “Duck’s Ditty”, the chapter titles and certain details I can remember in both the Christmas chapter and the final chapter at least.)
In the structure of the book, the two omitted chapters break up the account of Toad in jail and his escape. By making Toad’s adventures a continuous narrative without the deeper, more feeling aspects of the omitted chapters, this version reduces the book to a comic cartoon adventure without the profundity and little of the tenderness that makes it such a masterpiece. Richard Briers reads the version charmingly, but I was thoroughly disappointed.
A listener who doesn’t know the original may well still be pleased by this version.