Story Time Reviews “Kin”

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. I’m reviving this blog series that offers reviews of stories read aloud. Today Story Time Reviews “Kin” by Bruce McAllister read on “LeVar Burton Reads.” This podcast originally posted on June 13, 2017. It runs 36:46 minutes in length.

The Amazon cover is a close up of an alien eye. It is the cover for the story Kin by Bruce McAllister.

The Story

“Kin” by Bruce McAllister appeared in the February 2006 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. It received a nomination for the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. The story appears in multiple anthologies and is an Amazon “short read.

The story is about a meeting between a young boy who has a need and an alien assassin. Their meeting yields unexpected results.

The principal character, a twelve-year-old boy, is convincing. The author’s words paint the alien assassin in scary otherworldly details.

The story starts in a third person omniscient viewpoint that quickly switches to a closer third-person viewpoint and shatters conventions by relaying the story from three different viewpoints.

One might think three viewpoints would make the story flabby and difficult to follow. Yet, the story, the boy’s need, grabs you and sweeps you forward relentlessly to the end.

The Voice Talent

Photo portrait of LeVar Burton
Image by Super Festivals from Ft. Lauderdale, USA –
Photo_Ops-LeVar_Burton_20181202_0024, CC BY 2.0,

LeVar Burton is an actor, presenter, and author know by many of us. He is best known for his role as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and his role as Kunta Kinte in the ABC miniseries Roots.

Mr. Burton 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, LeVar Burton Reads in 2017. (Read his Wikipedia bio.)

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

Bruce McAllister, author of literary and genre fiction, was born October 17, 1946, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Worlds of If magazine published McAllister’s first short story, “The Faces Outside,” in the July 1963 issue. He was sixteen. The story appeared in Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 25 (1963) and The 9th Annual of the Year’s Best SF, 1964.

Known for his short stories, he has published novels, poetry, short stories and articles, been a consultant to writers on film and TV projects for studios and production companies. He taught literature and writing. Currently he’s a writing coach in Southern California where he lives with his wife. He has three children.

My Opinion

In the Air is a blog post about recent podcasts, livestreaming, and YouTube videos Lynette M Burrows enjoyed recently.

I love listening to Mr. Burton. I think he could entertain me by reading the dictionary. In this story, his delivery of a unique voice for each character worked perfectly for me. But this story is as satisfying to read silently as to listen to it.

You know why this story appealed to me if you’ve read My Soul to Keep. Specific details and an emotional resonance make this story a satisfying read, and Mr. Burton’s wonderful voice makes it an enthralling listen.


Story Time Reviews “Kin” by Bruce McAllister receives 5 out of 5 stars.

I hope you like the Story Time Reviews posts. They will make occasional appearances on this blog. Did Story Time Reviews “Kin” help you decide you’d like to read or listen to this story? Why or why not?

Story Time Reviews: A Japanese Fairy Tale

Story Time Reviews a Japanese Fairy Tale told on the Myths and Legends podcast, episode 161 titled Japanese Folk Lore: Karma.  The orginal story, “The Old Woman Who Lost her Dumpling,” may come from Hearn, Lafcadio, translator. Japanese Fairy Tales: The Boy Who Drew Cats. Tokyo: T. Hasegawa, 1898. This podcast includes two stories. “The Old Woman who lost her dumpling” is the first story told on the podcast. Duration 16 minutes and 14 seconds. 

The Story

Image of a page of from the story "The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling" on for her Story Time Reviews a Japanese Fairy Tale post.

Making Dumplings Making Dumplings. The old women liked to make dumplings and laugh. One day she drops a dumpling to the floor. It rolls through a small hole in her home’s floor. She reaches into the hole and the dirt beneath her cracks open. She drops. She survives a long drop and though the land is weird, she sees her dumpling rolling away and she runs after it. She stops and catches her breath leaning against a Jizo-san statue. (Weiser gives us an aside at this point explaining the relevance and meaning of a Jizo-san statue in Japanese culture.) The statue warns her not to follow her dumpling because a wicked Oni lives down there, who eats people. But the old woman doesn’t heed his warning. 

True to it’s fairy tale genre there’s a lesson learned. 

The Author

Image of Lafcadio Hearn, translator of Japanese Fairy Tales on for her Story Time Reviews a Japanese Fairy Tale post.

Unfortunately the podcast does not identify where the story came from nor who the author was. I made an assumption that that the story was from Hearn, Lafcadio’s translation Japanese Fairy Tales: The Boy Who Drew Cats

From  Encyclopaedia Britannica online, “Lafcadio Hearn, also called (from 1895) Koizumi Yakumo, (born June 27, 1850, Levkás, Ionian Islands, Greece—died Sept. 26, 1904, Ōkubo, Japan), writer, translator, and teacher who introduced the culture and literature of Japan to the West.”

Another assumption I make is that Hearn translated this story as told by storytellers and not the original author. 

Hearn did the world a great service by translating many works, particularly those of Japan. However, since he’s not the author of the story it’s not appropriate to give more of his biography here. If you wish to learn more, read this.

The Voice Talent

From the Myth and Legends podcast description: Jason Weiser tells stories from myths, legends, and folklore that have shaped cultures throughout history. Some, like the stories of Aladdin, King Arthur, and Hercules are stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories you might not have heard, but really should. All the stories are sourced from world folklore, but retold for modern ears.

These are stories of wizards, knights, Vikings, dragons, princesses, and kings from the time when the world beyond the map was a dangerous and wonderful place.

Weiser’s short bio includes this line:  “In addition to history and world folklore, he’s a fan of his wife and child, dachshunds, hiking, Batman, and cake (the dessert, but the band’s ok, too).”

Weiser’s voice is pleasant and his story telling engaging. 

My Opinion

I was not prepared for Weiser’s storytelling presentation style. It took me by surprise when he “interrupted” the story for an aside about the Jizo-San statue. Despite needing to adjust my expectations, I enjoyed the story and Weisner’s interpretation of the fairy tale.

He related this rather old story with some modern word choices. For me, that did not enhance the story. Those asides and modern expressions pulled me out of the story. I believe I would have enjoyed the story more if he’d given it a more traditional presentation. YMMV

His style became less intrusive as he got further into the story.

My biggest disappointment is that he did not identify where the story came from, who the author was, or even title the story. This is a major flaw in my opinion.


I’m glad I listened to the story. It’s sweet, engaging, has mystical lands and creatures, and the ending allows the listener to make an interpretation as to the meaning of the story. (Hint, it may be deeper than it appears.)

I am only slightly familiar with the Eastern story telling traditions and this story definitely made me want to learn more. And now that I’m aware of the style of the podcast, Myths and Legends, I will probably listen to more of these tales. However, if the telling of the stories continues to ignore details of the story title, the author’s name, or some indication of the story’s origin–I will recommend the podcast for further listening.

Did you enjoy Story Time Reviews a Japanese Fairy Tale? Have you missed past episodes of Story Time Reviews? Check out Story Time Reviews Operation Haystack or Story Time Reviews The Last Question. Do you listen to stories? I hope you find Story Time Reviews helpful. Please, share your favorite stories in the comments. 

Flash Fiction: For Better or Worse

Marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment. But a lifetime has many challenges. That’s why the older marriage vows included the phrase “for better or worse.”

This poignant story tells how a couple handles their challenges.

For Better or Worse

Lynette M. Burrows

They came in together. Gray-haired, bent, similar in size and shape, they held hands. She laughed at his lame jokes. Her laughter lit his face with a sun-bright smile. They shuffled up to the emergency room’s front desk. 

Image of a woman's hand holding a man's hand, an illustration for Friday Flash Fiction: For Better or Worse by Lynette M. Burrows

The ER nurse put him in a wheelchair and rolled him back to the triage room. She listened to their concerns, then checked his blood pressure and listened to his heart and lungs. She told them there were no rooms right now but there would be soon. 

They returned to the waiting room and sat in hard plastic chairs near the interior doors marked staff only. And they waited.

His jokes slowed and her laughter grew strained. The nurses at the desk seemed to pay them no mind as they dealt with the people coming into the ER in ones and twos, and whole families.

And after a while, the nurse called his name. She took the old man in his wheelchair through the staff only doors and the old woman trotted after them. She helped the old man into a patient gown that tied in the back, then helped him onto a narrow bed she called a cart. The nurse in charge of this room will be here soon, she said. She pulled the curtain, closing them in. The old woman sat in the lone plastic chair against the wall. And they waited in the cold, bright room.

Outside the room, urgent voices spoke, radios squawked, and equipment rumbled past. Children shouted and got reprimanded. A man screamed for help. The old man’s smile grew uncertain. The old woman pulled her chair closer, held his hand, and murmured meaningless, soothing sounds.

A doctor whisked into the room. “What brought you to the emergency room today,” he asked. 

The old man opened his mouth and his eyes grew clouded then alarmed. 

The old woman patted his hand. “Don’t worry, dear. I’ll tell him. You interrupt if I get anything wrong.”

She related his long health history that was shorter than their marriage, but still very long.

The doctor listened and nodded and said they’d run some tests. 

The old woman smiled and thanked him. So did the old man.

A nurse came into the room and drew blood and started an IV and asked the man if he knew where he was. He answered every question, then gave a nervous laugh and glanced at the old woman. She smiled and nodded reassuringly.

The nurse closed the curtain again and hurried about her duties. Outside their room, drawers opened and closed, phones rang, and heavy things trolled past. And the old man and the old woman waited. They spoke of their dogs, their plans, and their new grand baby—number eight.

A kind woman with a thick brown bun came and rolled him in his bed out of the room and down the hall for some tests. The old woman waited with her hands in her lap.

After a time, they wheeled him back into the room. He smiled a worn, pale smile upon seeing the old woman and mumbled unintelligible. She reached for him. He wrapped his cold fingers around her warm ones. She told him everything was all right and that he could rest now. He closed his eyes. In moments, he snored softly but he didn’t let go of her hand. She didn’t either.

Doors opened and closed, people moved up and down the hall chatting about this and that. And the old woman waited with the old man.

A long time later the doctor came in, a hand gripped each end of the stethoscope that hung around his neck. He said the results had come in. The old man’s damaged heart was doing okay and his scarred lungs were no worse. His blood tests were normal for a man of his age. But the scan of his brain showed increased damage. Blood vessels had shrunk and the white matter had thinned. His brain is slowly dying, confusing his words and his body. We can admit him until we can find a place to take him, the doctor suggested. 

“Oh no,” said the old woman. “I said “for better or worse” and this isn’t so bad.”

They woke the old man who blinked and blinked and asked, “Am I dreaming?”

“We’re ready to go home,” she said.

He smiled a sun-bright smile, and they left together.

Did you like this Friday Flash Fiction: For Better or For Worse? If you did, please let the author know in a comment below. Want more flash fiction? Read: “The Yellow Rose of Valentine’s Day.”

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.


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.

The Yellow Rose of Valentine’s Day

Roses are red for Valentine’s Day, aren’t they? In this vignette, the yellow rose isn’t a flower and it isn’t romantic. But it is a wish for those who don’t feel that they are enough on Valentine’s or any day of the year.

The Yellow Rose of Valentine's Day, a vignette, Be FabulousThe Yellow Rose of Valentine’s Day

Couples crowded the restaurant decorated with red hearts and red roses and red bows. They only had eyes for one another until she appeared. The silver-haired woman dressed in a vibrant yellow off-the-shoulder dress glided between tables. The hostess sat her at the center table. Alone. She sat with perfect posture, crossed her ankles, and smiled and chatted with the hostess.

The waiter brought her a bottle of champagne. She saluted with her glass and drained it in a single draught, then laughed a full-voiced, from the belly laugh, loud enough that the entire restaurant of couples stopped talking and stared. She laughed again and set her glass down. The waiter refilled it, then left. She placed her hands on the table and a generous and genuine smile lit her face. She swayed as if to music, but it wasn’t the sappy romantic ballad that filled the restaurant. The other customers recovered and re-focused on each other.

At a table near the woman in yellow, sat a young couple. He looked uncomfortable in a too-tight suit. His girlfriend wore a frilly red dress and rarely took her eyes off of him. But his eyes drifted away from his date, drawn to the woman in yellow. His date reached out and touched him, she cajoled him, then she glared at him with stabby eyes.

The woman in yellow, absorbed in the melody that only she could hear, didn’t seem to notice. Her smile grew wider and more infectious when the waiter approached with her meal. She clapped her hands and thanked him, then focused on her plate. She ate her steak and lobster with gusto and sipped her Champagne.

A waitress served the nearby couple while she ate. The young man shoveled food into his mouth between glances at the woman in yellow. His date frowned and stirred her mashed potatoes.

The woman in yellow sat back, her smile wide and pleased. The waiter cleared her table and they exchanged a few words.

A few moments later, the waiter brought her a small chocolate-covered, heart-shaped cake. He sliced it for her and she laughed at something he said. She took a bite cake and her eyes closed in reverence. She relished every bite of that slice of cake and when she finished she sighed a long, contented sigh. The waiter hurried to her table with her check. She smiled at him, paid cash, and swept past the table with the young couple and all the other tables with couples and out the door.

The young man at the nearby table signaled the waiter. “Who was that woman?”

The waiter looked after her. “She has reserved that table every Valentine’s day for the past twenty years but I’ve never known her name.”

“Does she always come alone?”

The waiter smiled. “Always. She says,”Everyone of us are enough in and of ourselves. Love yourself. Be fabulous.'”


Have a fabulous Valentine’s Day!