Bink & Gollie: Two for One . 13 min. with tchr’s guide. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 9780545570312, $59.95; CD, ISBN 9780545570367, $12.95; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 9780545570275, $29.95.
PreS-Gr 2– Best friends Bink and Gollie make a winning transition to CD and DVD with their adventures at the state fair. The animation is true to the book with black-and-white, mostly static, line drawing backdrops. The jaunty musical accompaniment perfectly suits the activities while the voice actors expertly bring to life the shy Gollie, exuberant Bink, and the mysterious Russian fortune-teller, Madame Prunely. The DVD successfully conveys the visual humor, including the talent show participants’ hiliarious missteps. When Gollie, a victim of stage fright, is unable to perform at the show, Bink ushers her into a barn; the video allows viewers to watch her construct the stage of hay bales and to see the comical reactions of the resident cows. At the end, scenes of their adventures play out as the credits roll, providing a recap of these sweet and funny stories. These media formats enhance an exceptional book.
Cloudette . 10 min. with tchr’s. guide. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 97805 45570329, $59.95; CD, ISBN 97805 45570374, $12.95; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 9780545570282, $29.95.
PreS-Gr 2– Can someone small make a BIG difference? This delightfully simple story of a small cloud who dreams of doing big things will resonate with children. Cloudette initially enjoys her status as the littlest cloud in the neighborhood, but a crisis brings out her best “brainstorm” efforts, and she pours out rain for the first time ever, benefiting a group of grateful frogs and becoming a “prodigious precipitation, pipsqueak!” Narration by Wendy Carter and others provide memorable character voices, and the animation is sweetly minimal, which makes an ideal accompaniment to the book. Original music by Jack Sundrud and Rusty Young get the mood and orchestration just right with a varied bluegrass background that includes banjo, guitar, bass, clarinet, and Jew’s harp. The music changes as the story progresses, adding different instruments and increasing in tempo that perfectly interprets a gathering storm. Paired with excellent sound effects from frogs to waterfalls, the music makes this outstanding DVD and CD a win-win purchase. Added extras include useful Common Core Connections, an interview with author/illustrator Tom Lichtenheld, and helpful lesson ideas for teachers.
Carnivores. By Aaron Reynolds. CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. ISBN 9781470383831. $15.75; hardcover book: 9780811866903. $16.99.
K-Gr 2– “They’re not bad. They’re carnivores. Eating meat is just what they do.” Putting together a beautifully illustrated picture book with engaging narration is like watching a movie in 3-D. In this case no special glasses are necessary, you just need the right device and a little imagination. Narrator L.J. Ganser creates humorous personalities for three of nature’s fiercest predators through voice and tone. Listeners meet calm and concerned Lion, frantic and worried Shark, and Wolf, a laidback surfer who just wants to hang ten. Of course they feel the stigma of their lifestyles; being at the top of the food chain can be lonely, and they have feelings too. In an effort to fit in they try in vain to be vegetarians and wear disguises. When all else fails they consult the wisest carnivore, the Great Horned Owl. Owl reminds them that “eating meat is just what they do.” The journey to self-discovery isn’t always easy, and it is okay to seek out advice. Listeners will connect with these comically drawn characters as they learn to be true to themselves and accept who they are. This set is a worthwhile addition for all public and school libraries.
The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred. By Samantha R. Vamos. 1 pb/1 CD. 14 min. Live Oak Media. ISBN 9781430114444. $18.95.
Gr K-4– What’s in the pot that the farm maiden stirs? Well, into that cazuela goes lime, rice, sugar, milk, eggs, and butter, all brought by different animals. Each is introduced in English, but subsequent appearances use their Spanish names. The list of ingredients and participants grows with each page, offering listeners a chance to pick up the vocabulary through repetition, while enjoying the delightful illustrations by Rafael Lopez. The book (Charlesbridge, 2011) receives stellar treatment here. Narrator Adriana Sananes provides an authentic Spanish accent for the Spanish words, and clear English for the rest of the text. This is a delightful bilingual romp, and teachers will appreciate the chance to compare and contrast the story with the English “This is the House That Jack Built.” There’s even a recipe for Arroz Con Leche (rice pudding) at the end of the book, as well as a glossary of the Spanish words. This is both a visual and an auditory treat that is sure to stir up a lot of enthusiasm from any audience.
The Dream Thieves: The Raven Cycle, Book 2. By Maggie Stiefvater. 11 CDs. 12:46 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 9780545602754. $79.99.
Gr 9 Up– Picking up where Raven Boys (Scholastic, 2012) left off, Steifvater’s latest casts a lingering enchantment over its audience–not unlike the waking memory of a strange and beautiful dream. With the ley lines around Henrietta awakened, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah–Raven Boys–and Blue feel closer than ever to finding the hiding place of Welsh King Owan Glendower. Then Cabeswater mysteriously vanishes, and their hopes are unceremoniously dashed. But even as the Raven Boys seek Glendower, some very dangerous men are seeking them. Once again, Stiefvater distinguishes herself as a master storyteller. Characters and settings are superbly crafted, and the elegant prose makes even mundane occurrences seem otherworldly and magical. The omniscient perspective makes audiences privy to information they would not have gained from a first-person narrative. A cliffhanger will leave audiences ravenous for the third installment. Despite not lending itself well to feminine pitches, reader Will Patton’s deep, gruff voice is an ideal match for this atmospheric and eerily beautiful story. A bonus particular to the audio format is “Somnus,” an original musical composition by the author. Overall, a must have!
A Long Walk to Water. By Linda Sue Park . 3 CDs. 2:45 hrs. Full Cast Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781936223121. $34.
Gr 5-9– Differentiated, African-inspired chapter introduction music assists in delivering this parallel story of two very different, but equally difficult, lives in Sudan. The story alternates between Nya, a composite character based on the lives of real girls, in 2008, and Salva, a young boy in the war-torn Sudan of 1985. Nya’s life consists of the grueling and monotonous task of hauling water. All day, every day, her task is finding, acquiring, and transporting brown, dirty water to meet her family’s needs. Salva’s story unfolds in the midst of a horrific civil war. Separated from everything and everyone he knows, he spends more than 15 years walking across Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya, living in refugee camps, and struggling to survive. His is a true story based on the experiences of one of the “lost boys of Sudan.” An echo effect is used to highlight the nagging questions that are always in the forefront of Salva’s mind, “When will I see my family again?” and “What will become of me?” Readers David Baker and Cynthia Bishop worked with a dialect coach to ensure authenticity in pronunciation and accents. An update on Salva’s ongoing project follows the story. Listeners will not ever leave the tap water running without thinking of this powerful story.
Move Like an Animal. Performed by Birdie’s Playhouse. CD. 40 min. Birdie’s Playhouse. 2013. ISBN unavail. $13.99.
PreS-Gr 2– Birdie’s Playhouse gives animals an exciting Latin flair in her newest album. This collection of 13 uptempo songs, written and performed by Birdie Mendoza encourages listeners to not give up on their dreams and teaches them how to overcome obstacles while highlighting a variety of animals. Many of the songs star a single animal such as the monarch butterfly, chimpanzee, or sea turtle. All of the songs will get children up and moving, especially “Hop, Hop, Hop,” which features a salsa cottontail, and the title tune, which gets listeners moving like birds, fish, snakes, and kangaroos. There is an amusing rap about a gerbil who just wants to do a “Furry Belly Dance.” The entire album is filled with facts about the animals, a light-handed message of animal conservation, and a sprinkling of Spanish vocabulary. Backed by fantastic percussion and brass performers, Mendoza’s lyrics really pop. Listeners will be hard pressed to sit still during this album. Songs from this collection could easily be used in lessons about animals as well as enjoyed as family listening. A must have for every collection.
The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:
Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story. 98 min. Dist. by First Run Features. 2013. ISBN unavail. $27.95.
Dinosaur Train: We Are a Dinosaur Family . 100 min. Prod. by Jim Henson Co. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 9781608839698. $9.99.
Soul Food Junkies . 64 min. Dist. by Media Education Foundation. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN 1932869735. High schools: $150. public libraries: $34.95.
Bear Has a Story to Tell . 8 min. with tchr’s. guide. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 9780545570251, $59.95; CD, ISBN 9780545570350, $12.95; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 9780545570268, $29.95.
Creepy Carrots! 10 min. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 9780545623773, $59.95; CD, ISBN 9780545623780, $12.95; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 9780545623797, $29.95.
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle . 180 min. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 9781608839742. $24.99.
Getting Through It: Kids Talk about Divorce. 19 min. with tchr’s guide. Human Relations Media. 2013. ISBN 9781627060196. $139.95.
Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience . 57 min. Dist. by Visions. 2013. ISBN unavail. $99.95.
The Nano Revolution: Welcome to Nano City . 45 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2011, 2013 release. ISBN 1937772802. $250.
All That’s Missing. By Sarah Sullivan. 7 CDs. 8:23 hrs. Candlewick on Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518261. $19.99
Backwards. By Todd Mitchell. 5 CDs. 5:48 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518452. $54.97.
BZRK Reloaded: BZRK, Book 2. By Michael Grant. 9 CDs. 10:50 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781455883264. $59.97.
Coaltown Jesus. By Ron Koertge. CD. 1:14 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518490. $54.97.
Dinosaur Kisses. By David Ezra Stein. CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. CD: ISBN 9781470383688, $15.75. Hardcover book: ISBN 9780763661045. $15.99.
The Eye of Minds. By James Dashner. 7 CDs. 8:37 hrs. Prod. By Listening Library. Dist. By Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804122481.
The Field of Wacky Inventions: A Floors Novel. By Patrick Carman. 5 CDs. 5:16 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 9780545600347. $25.99.
Fire Storm: Sherlock Homes: The Legend Begins. By Andrew Lane. 7 CDs. 9 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427233172. $29.99.
Fractured: Guards of the Shadowlands, Book 2. By Sarah Fine. 9 CDs. 11:04 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480544130. $49.97.
Game. By Barry Lyga. 11 CDs. 13:30 hrs. Prod. by Hachette. Dist. by AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 9781619699595. $74.99.
Hairy Maclary and Friends. By Lynley Dodd. CD. 32 min. Prod. by Bolinda. Dist. by Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781743177174. $29.97.
Hey! Who Stole the Toilet?: George Brown, Class Clown. By Nancy Krulik. CD. 1:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. ISBN 9781470363918. $25.75.
In the Age of Love and Chocolate: Birthright Vol. 3. By Gabrielle Zevin. 7 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427233219 $39.99.
Ivy and Bean Take the Case. By Annie Barrows. CD. 1:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. ISBN 9781470382681. $15.75.
Juvie. By Steve Watkins. 7 CDs. 7:40 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480542075. $54.97.
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase. By Jonathan Stroud. 8 CDs. 10:10 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9781804123167. $50.
Macadoo of the Maury River: Horses of the Maury River, Bk. 2. By Gigi Amateau. 4 CDs. 4:27 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518544. $54.97.
Man Made Boy. By Jon Skovron. 8 CDs. 9:49 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804121231. $55.
The Midnight Dress. By Karen Foxlee. 7 CDs. 8:38 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804123655. $45.
Never Fade: The Darkest Minds, Book 2. By Alexandra Bracken. 13 CDs. 15:20 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781469291611. $69.97.
Princess Posey and the Next Door Dog. By Stephanie Greene. CD. 30 min. Recorded Books. 2013. ISBN 9781470378097. $15.75.
Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices. Edited by Mitali Perkins. 3 CDs. 3 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518568. $54.97.
Sink or Swim: The Creature from the Seventh Grade, Book 2. By Bob Balaban. 4 CDs. 4:42 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068638. $59.99.
Sky Jumpers. By Peggy Eddleman. 5 CDs. 6:09 hrs. Produced by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books On Tape 2013. ISBN 9781804126915. $45.
Sylo. By D.J. MacHale. 9 CDs. 10:40 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068546. $59.99.
Tortuga in Trouble. By Ann Whitford Paul. CD. 10:39 min. with hardcover book. Live Oak Media. 2013. ISBN 9781430114307. $29.95.
Will in Scarlet. By Matthew Cody. 6 CDs. 7:39 hrs. Prod. By Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013 ISBN 9780804123334. $40.
The Best Day Ever! Performed by Baze and His Silly Friends. CD. 29 min. Prod. by Doodle Hollow Records. Dist. by CDBaby.com. ISBN unavail. $13.99.
The Dirty Socks Come Clean. Performed by The Dirty Sock Funtime Band. CD. 51:48 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.99.
Dragonfly Wings. Performed by Paul Andrew Zeir. CD. 70 min. Talking Hands Talking Feet. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.
The Incredible Flexible You: A Songbag of Social Cues. Performed by Tom Chapin. CD. 34 mins. Tomchapin.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.
The World is A Curious Place To Live. Performed by Lori Henriques. CD. 34:41 min. Lori Henriques. 2013. ISBN unavail. $10.
Boy: Tales of Childhood. By Roald Dahl. 3 CDs 3:30 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611761894. $25.95.
Gr 5-Up –Here Dahl recounts memories from his earliest years through his teens, including terrorizing a candy-shop owner in the Great Mouse Plot of 1924, which he recounts with a mixture of abject apology and fiendish delight, as well as unfortunate run-ins with “the birch rod” at various educational institutions. In addition to the tales themselves, Dahl’s reminisces are punctuated with explanations of esoteric references related to pre-World War II England and Norway which may be unfamiliar to the listener. This notwithstanding, modern children will still derive delight from the author’s stories of his family, including his “Ancient Half Sister”; his summer vacations among the frigid fjords of Norway and eating fresh-caught fish from the sea; and his exploits in schools both greatly, and not-so-, dissimilar from their own. Adding another layer of charm is the excellent narration of Dan Stevens, best known as Downton Abbey’s Matthew Crawley. Parents will enjoy listening to Dahl’s tales as much as their children do, and all listeners will be eager to devour more tales from the author’s companion volumes, More About Boy and Going Solo.
Danny the Champion of the World. By Roald Dahl. 4 CDs. 5 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN: 9781611762044. $29.95.
Gr 4-7– Danny is an English boy with a life any child would envy. He lives in a Gypsy caravan with his father who tells him wild bedtime adventures every night and trains him as an apprentice in his car mechanic shop during the day. Then one night, Danny learns of a secret his father has kept hidden from him for many years. This secret involves Mr. Victor Hazell, a despised local businessman and, and a flock of well-fed pheasants. Danny and his father hatch a plan to humiliate the overbearing and obnoxious Mr. Hazell, but will their plan be smart enough to outfox the cunning owner of Hazell Woods? This is a story about an ordinary boy having an extraordinary adventure. The narrator, Peter Serafinowicz, provides a superb listening experience. Serafinowicz enthralls the reader in the simple yet magical way of excellent storytelling. Listeners will be immediately drawn into the tale, forming an intimate connection with both Danny and his father, making them feel as though they are actually sitting in the cozy confines of the Gypsy vardo beneath the warm glow of the burning kerosene lamp.
George’s Marvelous Medicine. By Roald Dahl. 2 CDs. 1:30 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611762068. $19.95.
Gr 4-7– George’s grandmother is a terribly grumpy, “grizzly old grunion” who just loves to order young George around. George decides he will create a medicine to relieve Grandma of all of her awfulness. Adding everything he can find in the house and barn, including shampoo, shaving cream, animal medicines, shoe polish, and paint, George boils up a pot of medicine that has shocking results when given to Grandma. Utter chaos breaks out when his father determines that they should brew up more of the awful stuff to give to the farmyard animals and George can’t quite remember exactly what he used the first time around. Derek Jacobi does a commendable job voicing the quirky characters; Grandma is perfectly grating and nasty. The pacing is just right for the wacky presentation, and Jacobi nicely captures the complete pandemonium as things spiral out of control. This is a quick listen and should appeal to fans of Dahl although it may leave some adults feeling squeamish and grateful for the warning to “not try this at home” found at the beginning of the presentation.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. By Roald Dahl. 6 CDs. 7 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611762099. $29.95.
Gr 4-8– Dahl story’s are written to be enjoyed, to be provocative, to bypass adults and speak directly to children’s psyches, and they certainly are birthed from a wellspring of imagination that is entirely unique in the world of children’s literature. But few among his legions of fans will have read this collection of short stories originally published in 1977. These are complex, compelling, and complicated stories for more mature listeners. Mature not in an age-related sense, but in literary way; Dahl rewards patient and attuned listeners with stories that illuminate the meanness of children, the tenderness of a mother, or the greed of a character like Henry Sugar. The narration in this audio recording is spot on and superb. Andrew Scott’s British lilt provides an intimate listening experience, as if we are all huddled together around a flashlight, long past our bedtimes, hanging on every word.
The Time Machine. By H.G. Wells. 4 CDs. 3:56 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780804122283. $30.
Gr 7 Up– This sci-fi classic from 1895 features formal, old-fashioned language that may prove formidable to contemporary students. At the start of the novel, distinguished men have gathered to discuss science, politics, and philosophy in an inventor’s home. They debate the possibilities of a fourth dimension with their host, who asserts his polemics and endless theories with bombastic arrogance. Demanding experimental verification, the guests are shown a model of his actual time machine. One morning the following week, the Time Traveler presses the ebony levers of his contraption to the year 8271 AD and comes back in time for dinner with an unbelievable story of his adventures in the great beyond. Listeners learn of a bizarre culture of fun-loving, child-like folk called Eloi and blood-thirsty night creatures, the Morlocks, who steal the time machine to lure the traveler into their clutches. Barely escaping with his life, he journeys on to see a disturbing, dying Earth, and, overwhelmed, returns home to tell his story. This adventure ends with a mysterious second trip that will intrigue students, if they can persist through the verbiage. An abridgement for students would be a better choice; this deserves to be heard, but despite Derek Jacoby’s crisp British narration, it is not accessible to modern audiences in its original form.
The Wells Bequest. By Polly Shulman. 6 CDs. 6:43 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781624068577. $59.99.
Gr 6-9– When a tiny time machine arrives in his room carrying another version of himself and a beautiful girl, Leo is extremely surprised. Before he leaves, his future self tells Leo to read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Leo’s search for the time machine brings him to the New York Circulating Material Repository, which is home to what Leo previously believed to be fictional magical objects. It is there that he meets and befriends Jaya, the girl from the time machine. He begins working at the Repository to gain access to the special collections, specifically the Wells Bequest, where he hopes to find the machine. When the future of the world is threatened with disaster, Leo and Jaya set out to change the past. Although this is a companion to The Grimm Legacy, it is not necessary for readers to be familiar with it in order to enjoy this. Though a bit slow in the beginning, the action picks up quickly as Leo faces an enemy who will stop at nothing in order to get his hands on the time machine. Narrator Johnny Heller gives the characters distinct voices and accents. An author’s note at the end explains the real-life elements of the story, and an additional note explains how the call numbers were assigned to the objects in the Repository.
DE LA PEÑA DOUBLE DOSE
I Will Save You. By Matt de la Peña. 7 CDs. 17:44hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480524491. $69.97.
Gr 8 Up– Unexpectedly orphaned, 17-year-old Kidd Ellison finds himself at Horizons, a group home to help rehabilitate kids who have experienced trauma. Alone and lonely, except for a new friend, Devon, a dangerous young man with a death wish, Kidd decides to flee Horizons and his therapy program. He hitchhikes to Cardiff-by-the-Sea where the beach campsite manager, Mr. Red, who’s still grieving the loss of his own son, takes Kidd under his wing and offers him a summer job. Kidd’s life begins to brighten when he meets beautiful Olivia and a sweet summer romance blossoms. Then Devon appears unannounced and begins to make the moves on Olivia. Kidd instinctively knows he must save her–even if it means killing his best friend. Wisdom says keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but what if the enemy is you? Told in short chapters through journal entries, flashbacks, and real time, de la Peña skillfully captures the slippery sides of a schizophrenic personality in this heartwarming, root-for-the-underdog novel (Delacorte, 2010). Henry Leyva’s narration is spot on, especially for confused and trouble Kidd. A great listen!
Mexican Whiteboy. By Matt de la Peña. 6 CDs. 7hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480524545. $69.97.
Gr 9 Up– Danny is constantly out of place, or at least that’s how he sees it. He has a gift for pitching–his lanky arms can throw a baseball fast enough to get noticed by any coach or college scout–but he loses his cool on the mount. His mother is a blue-eyed blonde, but the color of his skin sets him apart at the private school he attends in San Diego, where he isn’t “white enough.” He isn’t “Mexican enough” for the barrio either though. He looks Mexican so everyone assumes he speaks Spanish, but he doesn’t. He can throw a baseball 95 miles per hour but isn’t on any team. All in all, he is out of place. When he spends the summer with relatives in his dad’s old neighborhood, Danny becomes convinced that if he saves up enough money he can go to Mexico and find his father. Danny is desperate to find his place in this world and develop a sense of self, longings that will ring true with any teen. Narrator Herny Leyva effortlessly eases among various tones, accents, and languages, creating an audio experience with a lot of depth. This is an essential purchase for communities serving Latinos, urban, and reluctant readers.