pepper_and_salt_1405_largePepper and Salt
by Howard Pyle

This latest LibriVox audiobook release is one I’m particularly excited about, because it was a duet between me and my dad. Listening to my dad read aloud has been part of my life for over 50 years. I hope to go on hearing him read aloud for at least a couple of decades yet. It wouldn’t be Christmas in this house without his annual reading of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

These days, his voice can’t keep going the way it did when he was younger, through chapter after chapter. Poems, though, are still short enough for him to handle without going hoarse. When this project came along, it was simply perfect for us to share. It was an old childhood favorite, bringing back memories of long-ago read-alouds, It had both stories and poems, something for each of us to read. “Made for us, Daddy!” — And off we went!

The old-fashioned poems, with their slightly tongue-in-cheek morals, called out all my dad’s histrionic gusto, his old theatricality. He was certainly channelling the spirit of Vincent Crummles as he read these. Especially the somewhat shocking Tale of An Innocent Little Lamb and Four Wicked Wolves. He crunched that one with a grin.

Far away in distant parts of the country, where we have never seen them, are my dad’s great-grandchildren. Now there’s a way for them to hear his voice, to listen to him read aloud to them, as he used to read to their mother and grandmother, their aunt and great-aunts. There’s a satisfaction in getting this little project out into the world which is deeper than the slightness of the material itself. It’s a little Victorian children’s book, that’s all. But it’s also a link to a long family memory.