Length: 17 minutes
Reader: David Federman
The story: In a faraway kingdom, the king has devised a crowd-pleasing spectacle for executions. The accused in placed in an arena and allowed to open one of two doors. Behind one waits a man-eating tiger and the prisoner's certain death. Behind the other waits a woman who will become his bride. When the princess's paramour is captured and sentenced to the arena, an additional wrinkle is added to the problem.
This story is often included in English literature textbooks to introduce the concept of ambiguity in stories. Children can have low tolerance of unclear endings: "And then what happened?" But part of developing an appreciation for literature is being able to consider the psychology of characters in a story when not enough information is available to know for certain what the character is really thinking. This story explicitly asks that question, and becomes a more complex story than if the ending was simply stated.
The reader: Since this is such a widely-anthologized story, there are several recordings available at LibriVox as well as on other websites. From the sampling I did of these, Federman's recording is the best. He uses inflection and dramatic pauses to create a fairytale-like telling of the story, which complements its "long ago and far away" setting. He speaks in distinct enunciation and varies both the pitch and loudness of his voice like a professional storyteller. The recording is well-produced with almost no background noise.
(Tiger background Creative Commons by attribution licensed from didbygraham)