Story Time Reviews Ray Bradbury

Story Time Reviews remembers that special time when an adult reads to a child and recognizes that as a grown-up, we need to reward ourselves with a story time now and then. This blog series will offer reviews of stories read aloud. Today Story Time Reviews Ray Bradbury.

Image of pen finishing writing "once upon a time" the beginning of story time reviews

LeVar Burton Reads

Mr. Burton, an actor, presenter, and author, has long been an advocate of reading. He hosted the long-running PBS show for children, Reading Rainbow (1983-2001 and 2002-2006). He started his podcast, LaVar Burton Reads in 2017. (Read his Wikipedia bio here.)

In every episode of his podcast, he reads a short story aloud. He says the only thing these stories have in common is that he loves them. 

The Author

Headshot of Ray Bradbury.
Photo by Alan Light

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, and poet. Mr. Burton says Bradbury shaped the way we see the world today. Bradbury’s stories, words, and vision definitely influenced many readers and science fiction and fantasy fans. You can read more about Ray Bradbury on his website or in my review of The Martian Chronicles.

Story Time Reviews

“The Great Wide World Over There” is part of the anthology Golden Apples of the Sun. The story was originally published in 1952.

As many of Bradbury’s stories are, this one is deceptively simple. It is not a science fiction story. The time period is a while ago. The story is set on a Missouri farm.

An illiterate farm woman feels she is missing out on the great wide world. When her educated nephew comes for a visit, she sees a way out of her isolation, a way to learn more of the world. 

No spoilers here, it’s a well-told story you’ll want to enjoy yourself.

The story expresses joy and wonder and nostalgia. It’s visual, emotionally evocative, and bittersweet. 

It aired as an episode of “The Ray Bradbury Theater” October 29, 1992.

Words Matter

In this story, Bradbury creates a protagonist who is jealous enough to lie, “It was not Cora herself, but her tongue that lied.”

You feel her joyousness when she greets her visiting nephew, “They ran to each other like partners at a summer dance.”

Her longing for a taste of the greater world is clear when she says, “her horizon was this valley in the Missouri mountains.”

And when she figures out how to get a small taste of that greater world, her joy is contagious. 

There are descriptions that will surprise and delight you. Read or listen to Bradbury for a demonstration on how to use words to visually illustrate a story.

The story’s conclusion is moving and true to the character and her situation. Perhaps it will make you think. It might make you grateful for what you can do to connect to the great wide world.

If you love simple, descriptive prose, you’ll love how every word, every sentence adds to the character, her world, and her plight.

The Podcast

Bradbury’s writing is full of visceral descriptions and relatable characters. LeVar Burton’s narration of this story adds another layer of power to Bradbury’s words. His character voices are spot on and the emotional resonance of his reading will touch you.

The recording was broadcast on the LeVar Burton Reads podcast May 6, 2018.

Rating

Story Time Reviews gives this story and performance 5 out of 5 stars. 

Did Story Time Reviews Ray Bradbury help you decide if you’d like to read or listen to this story? Is there something else you’d like included in the review? If you have a story you’d like featured in Story Time Reviews, list it in the comments below or email Lynette.

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