Les Miserables. DVD. approx. 3 hrs. Entertainment One Home Video. 2013. ISBN unavail. $19.98.
Gr 6 Up–In this made-for-TV adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic story, ex-criminal Jean Valjean seeks a better life for himself, but his efforts are dogged by the relentless Inspector Javert. With the young orphan Cosette at his side, Valjean flees to Paris where, years later, civil unrest divides the city. Amidst the turmoil, Cosette meets and falls in love with the young noble Marius, Valjean’s true identity is revealed, and Javert is faced with an ideological dilemma that ultimately leads to his demise. In the end, Valjean proves to be the man he has always wanted to become. Gerard Depardieu brings Valjean to life with an intensity and fierceness that closely resembles the character Hugo created. Depardieu expresses his character’s inner struggles with passion, depicting Valjean’s quest for redemption with conviction. John Malkovich’s Javert oozes sinister intent and embodies the man’s obsessive desire to destroy Valjean with single-minded ferocity. When the two actors share the screen, their chemistry is palpable, thanks to writer Didier Decoin, whose screenplay retains the novel’s dynamic characters and moral ambiguities. The movie’s pacing and the strong supporting cast round out a superb production. Both fans of the novel and those new to the story will not be disappointed.–Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH
Amazing Science! Volume 1. 2 DVDs. 4 hrs. Prod. by ScienceAndMath.com. Dist. by AV Café. 2012. ISBN unavail. $19.95.
K-Gr 8–Twenty-three fascinating experiments conducted by former NASA rocket scientist, Jason Gibson, are demonstrated in a simple, easy-to-understand manner. For each one, viewers are given a materials list, step-by-step instructions complete with live-action demonstrations and explanations on how to conduct the activity, what results to expect, and the science behind it. Common household items are used, requiring little advanced preparation. Each experiment can be accessed individually, allowing selection according to curriculum needs. Once it has been completed, Gibson provides the scientific explanation for the reactions in basic terms. Among the exciting experiments are: Color Changing Milk, Exploring Air Pressure, Lemon Battery, Unburnable Money, Matchstick Speedboat, Balloon in a Candle Flame, Simple Lava Lamp, Soda Can Fizz, and Build a Motor. This incredible resource provides simple-to-understand and easy-to-perform science activities that are a must-have for all elementary and middle school collections, public libraries, and home schoolers.–Linda M. Teel, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip. DVD. 1:53 hrs. Prod. by Media Changing Media. Dist. by First Run Features. 2012. ISBN unavail. $24.95.
Gr 8 Up–Three friends take off in a hybrid car to tour America in order to discover how we are saving or destroying our planet. In short segments filled with interviews, music, and often stunning scenery, the trio finds innovative green technologies and lifestyles that are being implemented across the nation. They travel to 50 states over the course of a year, and their experiences include visiting a living roof in Chicago, a mud home in Nebraska, homes and other structures built with all types of recycled materials in New Mexico, wind farms in Texas, a project in New Jersey where packaging materials are made from garbage, and more. They interview many well-known and ordinary citizens who are working to save the planet and seeking to live green. Pertinent environmental problems and issues are also studied, including water usage, oil drilling, wetlands, rising sea levels, fossil fuel dependence, and sustainability in all aspects of our daily lives. One of the most moving segments occurs during the team’s visit in West Virginia with Larry Gibson, a well-known leader in the fight against mountaintop removal mining. Everywhere there are questions and viewers are asked, “How are we going to do it?” “How are we going to save the planet?” Filled with hope and humor, this production demonstrates that we can create solutions through community and individual efforts. Classes across the curriculum can utilize this program.–Patricia Ann Owens, formerly Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, Mt. Carmel, IL
The Central Park Five.DVD. 2hrs. PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883.854-7. $24.99.
Gr 9 Up–Filmmaker Ken Burns turns his well-documented talents to a more contemporary topic: the beating and rape of a white woman in New York’s Central Park during racial and class strife in the late 1980s. The news media applied incredible pressure on the city’s embattled police force to solve the crime which resulted in charges made against five Hispanic and black young men who were in the park that night. After each served prison sentences for the crime despite only meager circumstantial evidence and coerced confessions, another man’s admission of guilt was supported by evidence. This moving documentary of what came to be called “The Central Park Jogger Case” tells the story from the perspective of the five men with a rich mix of archival video and personal commentary from all those involved—public officials, media professionals, attorneys, and historians. This thorough review, typical of Burns’s celebrated style, makes an historical event understandable and relevant. Particularly effective are the commentaries by four of the five victims of what was generally considered to have been society’s compulsion for quick “justice” at the time and its resultant effect on racial relations nationwide. Some street language is used, but it is hardly offensive and fits naturally into the speakers’ milieu. The options of chapter selection as well as English and Spanish subtitles enhance the value of this resource for both classroom and library settings.–Dwain Thomas, formerly Lake Park High School, Roselle, IL
Code Name Verity.By Elizabeth Wein. 9 CDs. 10 hrs. Prod. by Bolinda Audio. Dist. by Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-7428-5764-0. $59.97.
Gr 9 Up–Wein’s award-winning novel (Hyperion, 2012) is a brilliant story of two young women during World War II who are brought together to support the British RAF. Though from opposite stations in life, Maddie and Queenie (Verity) are both brash, confident, and beautiful, and their friendship is heartfelt. The story unfolds gracefully through written confessions of one of the women who was captured by Nazis after their plane went down in France. The friends are separated after this tragedy, and they (and listeners) are left to wonder if both of them have survived. The prisoner’s testimony is crafted to confess the truth, while misleading her Nazi interrogators. At times details about airplanes, mechanics, incendiaries, and such leave listeners feeling woefully inadequate. Graphic accounts of torture and death are put forth in explicit detail. Wein is a master at recounting both horrible events and the emotional subtleties which define the lives of these two heroines. Narration by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell is superb, especially with Scottish, British, French, German, and English so beautifully spoken. An excellent choice for thoughtful, mature listeners.–Robin Levin, U.S. Holocaust Museum Teacher/Fellow
Fox Forever.By Mary E. Pearson. 8 CDs. 9:29 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4272-1517-8. $39.99.
Gr 9 Up– In the thrilling and brilliant conclusion (Holt, 2013) to Pearson’s Jenna Fox Chronicles, Locke Jenkins has finally been able to escape the malicious Dr. Gatsbro with the aide of the Network. He heads for Boston to repay the Favor owed for their assistance. Locke wants nothing more than to complete his task so that he can return to Jenna Fox in California and have the chance to be with the girl that he’s loved for almost 300 years. What Locke finds in Boston, though, causes him to question his feelings and his ideals. Locke’s task is to retrieve the leader of the Resistance, Karden, a man thought to have been dead for the last 16 years. To do so, Locke must win over the teenage daughter of the government official holding Karden captive. Drawn deep into the struggle between the corrupt government and the Network, Locke finds himself defining who he wants to be in the hundreds of years he may have left to live, and who he believes should be beside him as he goes into the future. Matthew Brown’s even tones and deliberate pacing brilliantly capture Locke as he moves through Pearson’s explorations into morality, societal relationships, government control, and what truly defines humanity. The final events of the book not only give listeners the end of Locke’s story, but also bring an emotionally satisfying conclusion to Jenna’s tale. For all library collections circulating the first two titles.–Jessica Miller, West Springfield Public Library, MA
Mojo.By Tim Tharp. 7 CDs. 8:09 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36367-9. $40.
Gr 9 Up–Dylan is a husky high school junior with a craving for burgers, a penchant for retro T-shirts, and a dream of owning a ’69 Mustang and pursuing a career in journalism. But a lack of respect at school and a run-in with a corpse in a dumpster lead him to determine that what he really needs is mojo. When he hears about a missing girl from an elite high school across town, he sees the perfect opportunity to track her down and gain some notoriety. His pseudo-detective gig leads him to an organization called Gangland where he becomes involved with upper-crust society and a way of life he had previously never even dreamed of. Serious themes such as anti-bullying and gay rights are skillfully woven into the story with edgy humor. Jessie Bernstein’s narration of Tharp’s story (Knopf, 2013) is stellar, and his amusing and distinct character voices add to the tale’s humor. Wildly careening plot twists, fabulous characters, and madcap antics all add up to some serious mojo. Alcohol and drug use, swearing, lesbian relationships, strippers, and more combine to make this choice most appropriate for high school students.–Lisa Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH
Requiem: Delirium, Book 3.By Lauren Oliver.8 CDs. 10:10 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36141-5. $65.
Gr 9 Up –Oliver’s final novel (HarperCollins, 2013) in the “Delirium” trilogy uses alternating chapters— Lena and Hana—to run parallel story lines between opposite worlds until the two literally collide in a brilliantly crafted ending. In 21 days, Hana, Lena’s childhood best friend, is to marry Fred Hargrove, a secretive, sadistic man whose political platform to restore order got him elected mayor. Hana harbors a dark secret of deceit and betrayal. Three days have passed since Lena, Julian, and a renegade band of Invalids escaped the regulators (and certain death) and returned to the Wilds, which is no longer a safe haven since Hargrove’s election. The unexpected reappearance of Alex, who Lena never stopped loving, muddles her feelings for Julian in this complicated love triangle. Determined in their quest to change the future, they join the Resistance. Sarah Drew’s narration is fantastic, vividly capturing every human emotion: venomous hatred, whooping joy, flattened resignation, gut-wrenching loss, and wistful love. This harrowing tale of love in all its forms—especially the love of freedom of choice, be it right or wrong—is a riveting page-turner. Oliver saved the best for last–Cheryl Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OH
Scowler. By Daniel Kraus. 9 CDs. 11:15 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36837-7. $45.
Gr 10 Up–It’s the summer of 1981 and 19-year-old Ry Burke, along with his mother and younger sister, are preparing to leave the failing family farm in Kraus’s thriller (Delacorte, 2013). It has been nine years since Ry’s abusive father was sent to prison after committing horrific acts, culminating with a 16-hour chase through the forest in pursuit of his son. Ry survived the ordeal with the help of three toys turned imaginary friends: a teddy bear called Mr. Furrington, a bendy figure of Jesus Christ, and a frightening piece of folk art dubbed Scowler. Back in the present, an approaching meteor shower will have unimaginable consequences for the family, and Ry will once again call upon his protectors as his father returns to exact his revenge. Listeners are treated to a stellar performance by Kirby Heyborne, whose pacing is impressive. He has an incredible ability to convey so much about a character through his choice of voice: the rough speech of Marvin with his cringe-inducing unmelodious humming; the high-pitched and appropriately clichéd British accent for Mr. Furrington; the soft, gentle tone of Jesus Christ; and the garbled nonsensical sounds of Scowler. In the end, what truly stands out is his nuanced portrayal of Ry, whose deteriorating mental state is at the heart of this harrowing, disturbing, and yet completely absorbing story.–Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Sha Doo Be Doop.Performed by Miss Nina. CD. 33 min. Little Monster Records. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.98.
PreS-Gr 1–Singer/songwriter Nina Stone hits all the right notes with her second album. Her voice is strong and clear, and each song is delightful, whether it is putting a new spin on the alphabet, touting the joys of the hula hoop, or providing instructions on how to wash your hands. Songs based on the books How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. will have children clamoring for the stories, as will the song “Wild Things” which is inspired by Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. With most of the numbers running about three minutes, they will work best in story times or programs that feature a music or singing element. The unique concept of this album makes it a must-have for every collection.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon.By Steven Sheinkin. 6 CDs. 7:12 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2220-7. $39.
Gr 5 Up–Sheinkin’s stellar nonfiction account (Flash Point, 2012) captures the science, technology, logistics, and politics of the race to build the first atomic bomb. The book gives listeners a holistic perspective, highlighting the fact that the story of the bomb, while a technological miracle of the time, is at its core, an intricate tale of daring individuals whose actions affected families, friends, communities, and nations. The story begins at the end, with the capture of American spy Harry Gold in Philadelphia. From Gold’s seizure, Sheinken takes a retrospective look at events from the discovery of nuclear fusion to the deployment and the aftermath of the uranium and plutonium bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Gold, a chemist, in his role as Communist sympathizer and Soviet courier, is the thread that weaves this fascinating book together as it follows the trail of scientists, Nazi resisters, Soviet and American spies, workers, military commanders, and political leaders across the globe. The author’s narrative is as gripping as that of nonfiction masters such as Jim Murphy and Russell Freedman. Roy Samuelson’s clear diction and measured delivery complements the subject matter, offering students the opportunity to absorb sometimes complex material without pause. This award-winning, meticulously sourced book deserves a spot in every library.–Lisa Taylor, Ocean County Library, NJ
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. By Tracy Kidder and Michael French. 6 CDs. 7:22 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2169-9. $35.
Gr 7-10–Tracy Kidder spent years following Dr. Paul Farmer’s career and traveling with him. Dr. Paul decided at an early age that he wanted to help people, particularly the poor, and he felt the area of infectious disease was his calling. Shortly before starting Harvard Medical School, he traveled to Haiti and witnessed the devastating conditions there. He helped to found Partners in Health (PIH); led projects in Haiti, Siberia, Peru, and Russia; advocated for the treatment of multi-drug resistant TB for even the least fortunate, and helped with AIDs and tuberculosis research. Farmer embraced the idea of “mountains beyond mountains,” tackling one problem and then starting on the others. He and other PIH members have changed the way people look at infectious disease and how the poor are treated. Lincoln Hoppe narrates this book (Delacorte, 2013) that has been adapted from a lengthier version (Random, 2003) for adults by Kidder. He speaks in a caring and compassionate tone, and the story flows just like a suspense novel. Farmer’s story will inspire students. An excellent choice for current events classrooms as well as public and high school library collections.–Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY
The following titles are reviewed in the July print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
The Portrait. DVD. 30 min. National Film Board of Canada. 2013. ISBN unavail. $150.
Shift Change. DVD. 69 min. Bullfrog Films. 2013. ISBN 1-93777-238-1. $295.
Back to the Sea. DVD. 97 min. Prod. by Viva Pictures. Dist by CD Universe. ISBN unvail. $19.95.
Guns, Gangs & Violence: The Willie Jones Story (Teens at Risk Series). DVD. 19 min. TMW Media. 2013. ISBN unavail. $64.95.
Out in the Open. DVD. 88 min. Prod. by Breaking Glass Pictures. Dist. by Midwest Tape. 2013. ISBN unavail. $24.99.
The World of Work. DVD. 14 min. with tchr’s. guide. Prod. by VEA. Dist. by Films Media Group. 2013. ISBN unavail. $129.
Living with Genetic Disorders. DVD. 18 min. with tchr’s. guide. Human Relations Media. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62706-028-8. $149.95.
School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten. DVD. 36 min. schoolsoutfilm.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $20.
The Ant and the Grasshopper. DVD. 8 min. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 978-0-545-57136-4. $59.95; CD, ISBN 978-0-545-57138-8: $12.95; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-545-57140-1: $29.95.
Grand Canyon (Discoveries America National Park Series). DVD. 50 min. Bennet-Watt Entertainment. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60490-169-8. $24.95.
Extreme Dinosaurs. DVD.1:40 hrs. Prod. by BBC/Discovery Channel. Dist. by Warner Home Video. 2013. ISBN unavail. $19.92.
Predator Dinosaurs: The Truth about Killer Dinosaurs. DVD. approx. 2 hrs. Prod. by BBC/Discovery Channel. Dist. by Warner Home Video. 2013. ISBN unavail. $19.92
Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina. Season 1. 2 DVDs. 4:40 min. Prod. by Chedd-Angier Prod Co. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-779-3. $29.99.
Tokyo Waka: A City Poem. DVD. 65 min./53 min. Bullfrog Films. ISBN 1-93777-244-6. $295.
Wild Kratts: Rainforest Rescue. DVD. 55min. Prod. by Wild Kratts/9 Story Entertainment. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-865-3. $9.99.
Citizen Hearst. DVD. 84 min. Lionsgate. 2013. ISBN unavail. $19.98.
Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America. DVD. 92 min. Prod. by Onxyx Films, EVS Communications, and Loquito Prods. Dist. by Third World Newsreel. 2013. ISBN unavail. $80.
Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth. DVD. 1:38 hrs. Prod. by Umbrella Films. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN 1-93777-245-4. $295.
Mao’s Great Famine.DVD. 52 min. Filmakers Library. 2012. ISBN 978-1-4631-1627-9. $295.
Never Give Up! Ama’s Journey to Freedom on the Underground Railroad.DVD. 28 min. with curriculum. Nevergiveupfilm.org. 2012. ISBN unavail. Free.
The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights. DVD. 54 min. PBS Dist. 2012. ISBN 978-1-60883-888-2. $24.95.
Sosúa: Make a Better World. DVD. 56 min. Willow Pond Films. 2013. ISBN unavail. $24.95.
Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope. DVD. 60 min. Prod. by Herzog & Co. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-862-2. $24.99.
The Troubles in Northern Ireland. DVD. 30 min. with tchr’s. guide. Prod. by VEA. Dist. by Films Media Group. 2013. ISBN unavail. $129.
Many of these titles are available for download and/or in Playaway format.
Check distributors’ websites, playaway.com, and audio download retailers for availability and price.
Because of Mr. Terupt.By Rob Buyea. 4 CDs. 4:30 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4526-4229-1. $59.99.
The Book of Broken Hearts.By Sarah Ockler. 8 CDs. 9:57 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2353-2. $55.
The Clock.By James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier. 3 CDs. 3:41 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 978-1-935430-96-4. $49.95.
Fearless: A Mirrorworld Novel. By Cornelia Funke. 9 CDs. 10 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-307-58332-1. $40.
Froggy’s Worst Playdate.By Jonathan London. cassette or CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-5092-5, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-5091-8. $15.75; hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-6700-1427-9: $16.99.
Ghost Buddy #3: How to Scare the Pants Off Your Pets. By Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. 3 CDs. 3:18 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 978-0-545-497701. $24.99.
Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus!By Atinuke. cassette or CD. 1 hr. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4618-3457-1, CD: ISBN 978-1-4618-3458-8. $15.75.
Help! I’m Stuck in a Giant Nostril: George Brown, Class Clown #6.By Nancy Krulik. cassette or CD. 1 hr. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-6199-0, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-6193-8. $25.75.
Horrible Harry and the Stolen Cookie.By Suzy Kline. cassette or CD. 45 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-6201-0, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-6195-2. $15.75.
Mr. Docker Is Off His Rocker!: My Weird School, Book 10.By Dan Gutman. cassette or CD. 45 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4233-3, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4232-6. $25.75.
Nouns and Verbs Have a Field Day.By Robin Pulver. CD. 13:49 min. with paperback book. Live Oak Media. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4301-1115-3. $18.95.
P. K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man.By Caroline Lawrence. 7 CDs. 7:52 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-307-96886-9. $50.
Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems.By Kate Coombs. cassette or CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: 978-1-4703-6198-3, CD: 978-1-4703-6192-1. $15.75; hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-8118-7284-3: $16.99.
What the Spell: Life’s a Witch.By Brittany Geragotelis. 8 cassettes or 8 CDs. 9:30 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-6253-9, CD: ISBN 978-1-4730-4478-8. $97.75.
Again!!!Performed by Billy Kelly. CD. 32:29 min. Billy Kelly Show. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.
Back to School: The Remix.Performed by Alphabet Rockers. CD. approx. 37 min. Prod. by School Time Music. Dist. by AV Café. 2012. ISBN unavail. $12.99.
Future Hits: Songs for Learning.Performed by Future Hits. CD. 21:52 min. Matt Baron. 2012. ISBN unavail. $15.
Is Love a Fairy Tale?Performed by Aoede. CD. 46:19 min. Aoedemuse.com. 2012. ISBN unavail. $15.
A Little Help from My Friends.Performed by Mr. Billy. CD. approx. 36 min. Prod. by Bounce House Records. Dist. by AV Café. 2012. ISBN unavail. $15.
Made in the U.S.A.Performed by Twinkle Time. CD. 37:16 min. CDBaby.com. 2012. ISBN unavail. $10.
The Out of Control Rock and Roll Reading Show.Performed by Mr. Billy and friends. CD. 37:48 min. AV Café. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.
Spaghetti Eddie! And Other Children’s Songs, Vol. 3.Performed by Brendan Parker. CD. 24:38 min. AV Café. 2013. ISBN unavail. $12.
The Toddler’s Bible.By V. Gilbert Beers. CD. 61 min. Oasis Audio. ISBN 978-1-60981-647-6. $16.9.