Circle Round: The Unwelcome Guest

Ages: 2 - 11Producer: WBUR

“Ever heard the expression, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover?'” narrator Rebecca Sheir begins the story “The Unwelcome Guest,” one of about 75 of the Circle Round podcast’s adapted folktales from around the world. Each folktale is chosen for its underlying lessons of kindness, friendship, persistence and generosity.

“The Unwelcome Guest” originates from the Middle East and is a story about a governor who invites everyone, rich or poor, to a grand banquet—including the local wiseman and winemaker Nasruddin. Though he had planned to wear his special-occasion clothes, Nasruddin lost track of time working in his vineyards that day. Not to be late, he went directly to the banquet in his dirt-stained, smelly work clothes. Guests, even the governor, shunned the usually beloved Nasruddin. So, he slipped out, went home, changed his clothes, and returned to teach everyone a lesson, in an off-beat but memorable way, about making judgments based on appearance alone. At the end of “An Unwelcome Guest,” Sheir asks listeners, “Have you every judged something or someone on appearance alone?” She encourages them to share their stories about that with friends.

Like other Circle Round podcasts that attract film, television and stage talent, “The Unwelcome Guests” features actor Richard Kind (animated film “Inside Out” and TV show “Gotham”) as Nasruddin. But the real star of every Circle Round story is Sheir, who for years has graced public radio’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” as a host and reporter. Her calming, reflective approach to storytelling, along with original, evocative, often soothing, musical scores, is the thread.

In public-broadcasting style, Circle Round does make pitches for donations at the start of each story and during a mid-story intermission. A small price to pay for a podcast “Where story time happens all of the time.”

Don Oldenburg ©2019 Parents’ Choice

A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of “The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion” (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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