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A parent’s review: ‘The Peculiar Tales of the S. S. Bungalow’

The moment you begin listening to The Peculiar Tales of the S. S. Bungalow, you can practically smell the salty sea air and feel the ocean breeze ruffle your hair. This audio adventure transports you and your family alongside Sleepytime Greg on his epic quest for buried treasure.

The Peculiar Tales of the S. S. Bungalow is a recently-released two-disc set from the Portland-based Big World Audio Theatre. One disc is music only, while the other contains both the music and narrated tale, which is wonderfully convenient when you just want to hear the songs. (I’m not the only parent who has to wrangle driving and pressing “skip” on the CD when the backseat demands it, am I?)

Sleepytime Greg’s tale opens with rich, warm narration by Kevin Barbare. He tells a story unlike any other, with purple icebergs, whistling toads and a narcoleptic sea captain spurred to adventure by a map handed to him by a mysterious stranger. Seaworthy sound effects are peppered throughout the narration, giving you the feeling that you’re actually there on the deck of the S. S. Bungalow.

The adventure with the narration and music runs over an hour, which makes it an album best suited for a long car ride or road trip rather than having it on in the background during an active playtime. Songs have a folk feel, many with the gorgeous sound of a violin playing along with the soothing vocals.

There’s a great mix of songs, from lullabies like the beautiful “My Sleepyhead” to toe-tappers like “Sleepytime Greg.” The whimsical “Ode to Tater-Tot,” dedicated to Captain Greg’s loyal beagle, is my daughter’s favorite on the album. You wouldn’t expect a dog to make a good treasure-seeker, but Tater-Tot plays a fun and important role in the escapades of the S. S. Bungalow.

With the long listening time and a story that’s a little more than a simple treasure hunt, Big World Theatre’s seafaring expedition might be a better fit for kids elementary age and up. “Aquinas,” a touching tribute to a recently departed pet fish, will strike a chord with anyone who has lost a pet. “Whispers in the Dark/Where Monsters Never Sleep” is a little ominous, but all ends well. It’s impossible not to smile when you listen to the second to last song on the album, “Life is Good,” a cheery ditty with a chorus of chickens.

The Peculiar Tales of the S. S. Bungalow is an all-around enjoyable audio experience. Parents will appreciate some of the themes of the story, like good friends are more important than treasure. And kids might be inspired to take an adventure of their own one day.

The Peculiar Tales of the S. S. Bungalow by Big World Audio Theatre is now available at retailers nationwide as well as on ssbungalow.com.

Kelly Knox is a Seattle-area mom and writer who loves a good adventure.

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