A delightful musical story for children of all ages, reviewed by Tabitha Danloe
This is a really sweet musical Christmas story, written and performed by Mark Holdaway. While this combination storybook and CD set is aimed at children, I think a lot of people would resonate with its beautiful message and the lovely kalimba music that accompanies it.
On the eve of Christmas, with no gift for his own son, a poor toymaker finds an old, broken music box. He can’t repair it, but an angel appears, and she magically fixes the music box. But the music box is no longer a normal music box. It now has a very special property: the music box speaks to the heart of whoever is winding it up, and plays their favorite Christmas song!
This story actually reminds me of my own childhood, when I would listen to different Christmas stories with my mom, grandmother and sisters. I just loved that part of Christmas. As you can hear in the excerpt, Mark’s reading is very well delivered, clear and gentle and animated.
The thing I love the most about “The Magical Music Box” is the delicate kalimba music that is incorporated throughout. I love how the music paints a picture. As Mark is reading the story, the listener is instantly engaged. Mark does all the voices and I really appreciate that. The music really captures you as well.
This story starts with a mean and nasty king. His army is all that matters to him, and he is very resentful about the money that his people spend on Christmas toys each year. In a jealous tantrum, the king decrees that there will be NO NEW TOYS! this year for Christmas – which is really sad, because kids need Christmas toys. And so all the toymakers in the kingdom decide to fix old toys so kids can still have their Christmas toys. But on the eve of Christmas, one of the toymakers finds, to his distress, that he doesn’t have anything for his own son, because he has been so busy working on and fixing old toys for all the other girls and boys.
An amazing magical music box, at first old and broken, that has been kissed by an angel, enters the story. Everyone is so excited to have a magic music box that is able to discern and play the song most special to the person who winds it up. This is the kind of miracle that could bring world peace! Big discussions ensue as people try to figure out the best way to use this fantastic gift, and the music box finds its way to the mayor, and maybe on to the king… but the selfish king could ruin it for everyone!
The story ends with an act of compassion – a child gives the music box as a gift to the poor toymaker’s child who doesn’t have anything. This empathic act reflects the true spirit of Christmas – being thankful for what we do have, and thinking of, and sharing with, others who don’t have. That child’s gift in the story leads to a joyful transformation, and this is a sweet reminder that transformation is always possible.
When I close my eyes while listening to this enchanting story, I can see Mark moving around and dancing, playing the kalimba, and captivating his audience with his tale – it would be such a fun performance! What a great gift for the child in your life – or the child in your heart.