November 20, 2017

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Pick of the Day: Splendors & Glooms (Audiobook)

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Audiobook cover- kids on puppet strings with red backgroundSplendors & Glooms. By Laura Amy Schlitz. 10 cassettes or 10 CDs. 12 hrs. Recorded Books. 2012. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4498-3568-2, CD: ISBN 978-1-4498-3572-9. $108.75
Gr 4-8–Set in a Dickensian London, Davina Porter is the perfect narrator to capture the nuances of the characters and the time period in Schlitz’s exceptional Victorian fantasy (Candlewick, 2012). Listeners will ache for the orphan children, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, when they come up with money after pawning a watch. Should they have a proper meal and see the marionettes, or spend the money on practical items they so desperately need? Will they be able to hold onto it long enough to realize either option? The privileged Clara has been kidnapped and transformed by the evil puppet master Grisini. He gained his power from the witch, Cassandra, who desperately needs a child to steal the fire opal that fuels her magic, thereby saving her from a fiery death. Grisini offers up his charges, not realizing that they have discovered the puppet Clara. Parsefall believes it is the missing girl, and Lizzie Rose can’t quite deny it. When Clara’s father sees Parsefall using the puppet, he confronts the children who performed with their master on his daughter’s birthday. Threatened by the possibility of police, the children flee. Cassandra’s promise of an inheritance and money for the train arrive just in time. If and how the three children can save themselves will keep listeners enthralled to the very end. Porter’s deliberate pacing intensifies the drama and her talent with accents broadens the portrayals. A not-to-be-missed gothic thriller.–Janet Thompson, Chicago Public Library, W. Belmont Branch, IL

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