Fantastic Mr. Fox. DVD and Blu-ray. 87 min. Dist. by the Criterion Collection. 2009, this edition 2014. $39.95. ISBN 9781604657883.
Gr 4 Up –Mr. Fox is the cleverest fox around. In his youth, he was a master chicken thief. When he and his wife are trapped during a chicken heist, she reveals that she is pregnant and demands that Mr. Fox change his ways and stop taking risks. He does as his wife asks, but after several years he finds himself unsatisfied. To provide for his family and relieve his own boredom, Mr. Fox plans a major heist on the three meanest farmers: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Though the caper is successful, it creates a world of problems for Mr. Fox and his neighborhood, as the three farmers relentlessly pursue revenge. Along with the main plot, there are underlying themes of family and friendship, as well as the dark and macabre flavors that can be expected in a movie based on a Roald Dahl story. The stop-motion animation is phenomenal with subtle movement that is clever and seamless, and the characters are brilliantly voiced by actors such as George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Bill Murray. The overall look is rich in warm, autumnal colors and thoughtful details. Fans of its director, Wes Anderson, will love this special edition, which comes with fantastic (and funny) features, such as an art booklet, an audio recording of Dahl reading the book, and interviews with cast and crew (Fun fact: the Foxes’ abode is a miniature set of Dahl’s home).–
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. 2 DVDs. 360 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $34.99. ISBN 9781608839971.
Gr 9 Up –That the long and checkered history of racial injustice in the United States has produced a society in which racism is arguably ingrained, that the unconscious assumption of white privilege still exists, is not the main subject of this fine PBS series. It is, however, an unavoidable subtext. This six-hour series, written and presented by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, begins with the origins of slavery in Africa and moves through the next five centuries of historic events, as the African American community forges their own social structures, religious perspectives, and cultural norms against a background of repression and denigration. Rich with riveting details, the series clearly points out that the community is not a uniform entity, and that differences have existed since the early days on American soil. The interviews with subject experts and, as the series moves toward the present day, with men and women who have lived the African American experience, are deeply informative, moving, and at once hopeful and distressing. Thought provoking does not begin to cover the series; and it leaves one wondering, as Cornell West opines in the final hour, if racism cannot be mended unless our society is torn down and rebuilt. Essential viewing for high school and university students, this program moves one to tears and to much-needed self-examination.–
Trashed. 97 min. Dist. by Green Planet Films. 2013. Schools $129, public libraries $69. ISBN unavail.
Gr 7-12 –In this grim and shocking eco-documentary, actor Jeremy Irons travels the world investigating the monumental waste produced by our consumer-oriented lifestyles. Irons—calm, sometimes concerned, but with touches of lightness—is well suited presenting the harsh facts he offers. Some of the aftereffects of rampant waste are trash mountains seeping toxic waste into the Mediterranean, dying turtles and barren whales, plastic debris polluting the oceans, children with birth defects, undrinkable milk, and unbreathable air. Divided into four parts covering land, air, water, and then solutions, this eye-opening examination offers a glimmer of hope if only because some basic recycling strategies are seriously proposed and seen enforced. It doesn’t have to end badly for the Earth, suggests the film, but the time to act is now. Enhanced by an interesting, if somewhat downbeat, score; excellent photography; and insightful interviews, this work should be compulsory viewing for both students and adults.–
Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Feral Nights. (Feral: Bk. 1). 6 CDs. 6 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. $59.97. ISBN 9781480585546. MP3-CD.
Gr 8 Up -When free-spirited werecat Yoshi Kitohara sets out to find his sister, Ruby, in Texas, he walks into chaos. His sister has disappeared, the guy she was last seen with is dead, and everyone thinks she’s the murderer. Angry about what happened to their prince, the werearmadillos are out for blood and will stop at nothing to kill Yoshi and Ruby. Determined to clear the Kitohara name, he recruits the help of two locals, Clyde, a crippled werepossum, and a human, Aimee. While investigating, the three get kidnapped and are taken to a remote island, where they’re set to be killed in a hunt for the amusement of other supernatural creatures. The island is well-guarded by the polar bearlike Yeti, and it’s almost impossible to escape. Could Ruby also be on the island? What was she involved in? Most important, how do they escape? This is the first book in a series spun off from Smith’s “Tantalize” books. This fairly fast-paced novel is well written and the characters are unique and well-developed. Amy McFadden and Nick Podehl’s narrative styles complement each other and transition smoothly between action scenes and dialogue. Listeners who are familiar with the first series and like mystery, adventure, and suspense will enjoy this intriguing book.
Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Feral Curse. (Feral: Bk. 2). 5 CDs. 6 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 9781480583641. MP3-CD.
Gr 8 Up –Adopted when she was little, Kayla knows little of her heritage other than that she came from Ethiopia and she can turn into a cat. After she reveals her alternate self to her longtime boyfriend, Ben, he’s killed by lightning while trying to use a spell to cast out her cat form. In comes Yoshi Kitohara. After solving the mystery of his sister’s disappearance, Yoshi was magically transported by a cat figurine from a reportedly cursed carousel just in time to save Kayla’s dog. Soon he realizes that the carousel is enchanted. To break the spell, Yoshi and Kayla must put the carousel back together and reenact the spell Ben cast. Like the previous book in the series, this work is well written, and Smith further develops the characters while introducing interesting new ones. The mythical and modern elements blend well, and the action and mystery scenes are masterfully done by the narrators, Todd Haberkorn and Cristina Panfilio. Recommend to listeners who enjoyed the first book (Feral Nights) and like mysteries that end in cliff-hangers.
HYMAN, Zachary. The Bambino and Me. tr book with CD. 15 min. Tundra Books. 2014. $17.99. ISBN 9781770496279.
Gr 1-4 –It’s 1927 in the Bronx, and George Henry Alexander loves baseball, the Yankees, and, most of all, The Bambino, Babe Ruth. For his birthday, he will be going to see a Yankees/Red Sox game with his father, but to his horror, his mother insists that he wear a Red Sox jersey that was a birthday gift. How will George survive wearing the jersey of the enemy? What if The Babe sees him? This story is beautifully written and full of nostalgia, and the book’s illustrations tbring the characters to life. Jason Alexander’s narration is the icing on the cake, adding fun character voices and New York accents to this tale of Americana. Students and adults of all ages will enjoy listening, especially anyone with ties to the Red Sox/Yankees century-old rivalry. This work is a true gem.
Angus, David. Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine. 2 CDs. 2:30 hrs. Naxos Audio. 2013. $17.98. ISBN 9781843796909. digital download.
Gr 4-7 –Anyone who thinks that the history of treating disease and injury is destined to be a boring listen will be remarkably impressed with this presentation. Beginning with Hippocrates in Ancient Greece followed by the work of the Roman Galen, this title chronicles the incredible developments in medicine through the centuries with astounding details and entertaining facts interspersed throughout. Highlights include Ibn Sina’s path to writing The Canon of Medicine, which was the most popular medical textbook in the world for centuries; the Renaissance-era anatomical investigations of Andreas Vesalius; William Harvey’s detailed descriptions of the circulation of blood; and Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin. This audio presentation comes up to the 20th century with the work of Francis Crick, James Watson, and Rosalind Franklin in determining the structure of DNA. Finally, the audiobook concludes with an overview of the many fast-paced medical advances that are occurring in the present. Reader Benjamin Soames brings energy, excitement, and even an element of fun to this detailed publication. His pacing is appropriately varied to increase interest, and his own enthusiasm for the topic really shines through. Highly recommended.–
Powell, Patricia Hruby. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. 1 CD. 1 hr. Recorded Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781470383862. digital download.
Gr 2-5 –Born into the slums of St. Louis in 1906, Josephine Baker had dance in her soul. From an early age, she was happiest when performing in front of an appreciative audience. Because of her race, she was often relegated to dressing the dancers, but Josephine worked hard and learned all the dance moves, just in case. When she got the chance to perform on stage, she took it, eventually catching the eye of a benefactor who invited her to perform in Paris, where she stepped into the spotlight and became a star across Europe. Through her bold performances and natural fearlessness, she ultimately pushed through the boundaries of segregation in America to become an international performing star. The unadorned narration of the blank verse text is lovely and vibrant as performed by veteran actress Lizan Mitchell. Her voice is full of the same energy and verve Josephine embodied. The text is mostly narrative and no dialogue, sprinkled with occasional quotes from Josephine herself. Mitchell fluidly reads the lovely verse, “knees squeeze, now fly/arms scissor and splay,” that captures Josephine’s uninhibited nature so well.
Waller, Sharon Biggs. A Mad Wicked Folly. 9 CDs. 11:14 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $55. ISBN 9780804167567. digital download.
Gr 8 Up –Waller’s debut is a feminist romp through Edwardian England. Victoria Darling has everything—money, position, and a place at France’s finest finishing school—except what matters most to her: autonomy. Vicky wants to be an artist, and when she decides to pose nude for an art class, she’s whisked back to England and the stifling life she is so desperate to escape. She’s caught between an arranged marriage and a handsome police constable, plus a growing sympathy for the Women’s Social and Political Union and the cause of women’s suffrage. Waller’s painstaking research is evident in every detail. Particular attention is paid to weaving historical details seamlessly into the narrative—the Pre-Raphaelites, technological advances such as flushing toilets and the telephone, and the WSPU hunger strikes. Katharine McEwan gives each character his or her own unique timbre and articulations and manages to hit the perfect emotional notes of every line of dialogue. Riding the popularity of Downton Abbey, this book will be sure to attract an instant following. However, it will be the struggles and triumphs of the characters that will leave listeners clamoring for more.
Mearra—Selkie from the Sea. Performed by Linda Marie Smith. CD. 42 min. CDBaby.com. 2014. ISBN unavail. $15.
Gr 4 Up –Smith’s alto voice, which blends with the voices of the background singers to produce beautiful harmonies, tells in 11 songs the story of Mearra, a mythical seal called a selkie that can shed its skin and transform into human form. One day, she sees a lonely fisherman named Ian, and falls in love. Ian is enchanted in return, marries her, and together they have a family. However, a selkie cannot remain on land forever. Seven years later, the sea calls for Mearra’s return in this bittersweet tale of love, loss, and transformation. The lovely songs, performed in folk rock, jazz, and soft pop styles, are accompanied by excellent performances on a range of instruments, including Celtic harp, button accordion, and hurdy gurdy. All of the music has a distinctive Celtic influence and complements the lyrics perfectly. The songs include “Ian’s Song,” “Mearra,” “All This and More,” “Water Green: Blue Sky,” “Heaven Knows,” “Seals of Silver and Gold,” “Surrender to the Sea,” “I Would Lose You,” “One More Kiss,” “Come With Me,” and “To Be With You.” This is a wonderful album for all those who love Scottish folklore.
The Trash Tunes. Performed by Steve Trash and Kelvin Holly. CD. 28 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.
K-Gr 5 –Environmental educator Steve Trash teams with musician Kelvin Holly on this collection of eight original eco-educational songs. Driven by electric guitar and backed by blues and rock ‘n’ roll beats, each of these tunes is entertaining and fun without ever feeling didactic. The green theme runs throughout the album, emphasizing the importance of reducing waste, recycling, solar energy and the wonder that is planet Earth. The rich, clever lyrics of songs, such as “The Ballad of Ed and Able,” which teaches the difference between recycled and recyclable, and “Aluminum Can Blues,” will keep children engaged, dancing, moving, and learning. A great resource to use in classroom settings as well as fun for the whole family to enjoy. A must-have for every collection.
Shine Shine Shine. Performed by Mama Mac. CD. approx. 30 min. CDBaby.com. ISBN unavail. $15.
PreS-Gr 1 –Pennsylvania-based Mama Mac (a.k.a. Amy Elkins) writes eclectic indie music for young kids and their parents. The 14 songs on the disc include the opening gospel tune “Climb on Up,” an invitation to join the group in the treehouse; the bluesy, soul-filled “Loose Tooth”; the disco-inspired “Dancing Feet”; and a capella seasonal celebration “Summertime.” Most of the tunes were composed by Elkins. Each song is carefully arranged, with instrumentation fitting the musical style; “Leaves” is a folksy tune about autumn and features a fiddle and mandolin, while “Snowflake Ballet” is a ballad with sleigh bells ringing in tempo. The title song, “Shine Shine Shine,” opens with a chorus of children looking to turn a cloudy day into sunshine. Elkins includes the classic “This Old Man,” updated with a country feel and with a pedal steel guitar. The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club sings backup on a couple of songs. With lyrics that will appeal to kiddos and musical arrangements that will please parents, Mama Mac has another winner here.–
Songs from a Journey with a Parrot: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes From Brazil and Portugal. Performed by various artists. tr book with CD. 44 min. The Secret Mountain. 2013. ISBN 9782923163994. $16.95.
PreS-Gr 3 —Male and female adults and children give voice to these 30 songs and rhymes in Portuguese. The folk tunes include samba, bossa nova, and fandango styles. Some are slow and soft, while others are very lively and upbeat. Musicians give excellent performances on bandolim, accordion, whistles, gourds, and maracas, among the instruments. Song titles include “Boi, Boi, Boi,” “Samba, Samba, Samba Lê Lê,” and “Teresinha de Jesus.” The book features lush paintings depicting scenes from the songs and nursery rhymes, Portuguese and English lyrics, and a paragraph of information about the song or rhyme. This set is an excellent addition to multicultural children’s music collections.
The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:
Preschool to Grade 4
Caillou: Caillou’s Garden Adventures. 50 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 9781608830152.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel’s Big Feelings. 100 min. Prod by the Fred Rogers Company. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $12.99. ISBN unavail.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Life’s Little Lessons. 100 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $12.99 ISBN 9781608839902.
Dragons Love Tacos. 6 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9780977709892.
Drawing with Mark: Good to Grow/Life on the Farm. ISBN 9781939517142.
Drawing with Mark: Something Fishy/A Day at the Aquarium. ISBN 9781939517135.
Ea: 60 min and $14.98. Dist. by TDC Entertainment and Shelter Island. 2014.
Mastering 5th Grade Math! Volume 1. 2 DVDs. 180 min. Dist. by Scienceandmath.com. 20 14. $16.99. ISBN unavail.
Peep and the Big Wide World: Diva Duck. 84 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 9781608830121.
What a Wonderful World. (Shut Up and Sign: Episode 4). 30 min. Dist. by Shut Up and Sign. 2013. $24.95. ISBN 978098947780701.
Under the Freedom Tree. 9 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629235790.
grades 5 up
Alien Planets Revealed. (Nova). 60 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781608838479.
Comet Encounter: ISON’s Brush with the Sun. 60 min. Dist by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781608830206.
The Country of Wolves. 12 min. Dist. by Inhabit Media. $24.95 w/book. DVD ISBN unavail. Tr book ISBN 9781927095041
The Forsaken Promise. 2 DVDs. 117 min. Dist. by Alden Films. Aldenfilms.com. 2014. $39.95. ISBN 9781877684494.
Francis: The Pope from the New World. 51 min. English and Spanish audio. Dist. by Janson Media. Janson.com. 2013. $19.95. ISBN 9781568394800.
Japanese American Incarceration: 1942–1945. (Discoveries: America National Parks). 56 min. Dist. by Bennett-Watt Entertainment. 2013. $24.95. ISBN 9781604901726.
Life Apps. (Reframing Rio.) Series ISBN 1937772713.
––––. Silicon Savannah. ISBN 193777273X.
––––. Favela Farm. ISBN 1937772748.
––––. Mobile Harvest. ISBN 1937772756.
––––. Once a Nomad. ISBN 1937772764.
––––. World of Apps. ISBN 1937772721.
Ea: 27 min and $195, $595 series. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2013.
Molly: Innocent Name, Deadly Drug. 20 min. with 21-page teacher’s resource book. Dist. by Human Resources Media. 2014. $149.95. ISBN 9781627060448.
My Dog the Champion. 87 min. Dist. by Anchor Bay. 2014. $24.98. ISBN unavail. Rated G.
1964. (American Experience). 120 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781608830411.
Scavenger Hunt. (Earth Now!). 56 min. Dist. by Cinema Libre Studio. 2013. $19.95. ISBN unavail.
Think Before You Drink: Sugar Shockers & Beverage Tips. 25 min. Dist. by Learning ZoneXpress. 2014. $79.95. ISBN unavail.
Women in Manufacturing. (Women in Nontraditional Careers). 15 min. with 114-page resource guide. Dist. by Her Own Words. NontraditionalCareers.com. 2013. DVD $95, guide $45. ISBN 9781601180995.
Greene, Stephanie. Princess Posey and the Monster Stew. (Princess Posey: Bk. 4). 1 CD. 30 min. Recorded Books. 2013. $15.75. ISBN 9781470378059. digital download.
Gutman, Dan. Mrs. Patty Is Batty! (My Weird School: Bk. 13). 1 CD. 54 min. Recorded Books. 2013. $15.75. ISBN 9781470341503. digital download
LIN, Grace. Ling & Ting Share a Birthday. 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490602561. digital download.
McReynolds, Linda. Eight Days Gone. 1 CD. 9 min. Live Oak Media. 2014. $19.95. ISBN 9781430114635.
Parish, Herman. Amelia Bedelia Joins the Club. digital download. 6 min. HarperCollins. 2014. $2.95. ISBN 9780062322081.
CHAN, Crystal. Bird. 5 CDs. 6:11 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $40. ISBN 9780804167765. digital download.
FOXLEE, Karen. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. 5 CDs. 6:20 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $35. ISBN 9780804168366. digital download.
MELOY, Colin. Wildwood Imperium. (Wildwood Chronicles, Bk. 3). 12 CDs. 14 hrs. Harper Audio. 2014. $36.99. ISBN 9780062047106. digital download.
Napoli, Donna Jo. Treasury of Egyptian Mythology. 3 CDs. 3:30 hours. Recorded Books. 2014. $30.75. ISBN 9781470397869. Playaway; digital download.
OSBORNE, Jill. Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek. 1 MP3-CD. 4:15 hrs. Oasis Audio. $12.99. ISBN 9781613755914.
Benway, Robin. Going Rogue. (Also Known As, Bk. 2). 6 CDs. 7:24 hrs. Brillance Audio. 2014. $69.97. ISBN 9781469277257. MP3-CD.
Carleson, J. C. The Tyrant’s Daughter. 7 CDs. 8:33 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $45. ISBN 9780804167048. digital download.
CHRISTOPHER, Lucy. The Killing Woods. 8 CDs. 9:30 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2014. $105. ISBN 9781482967401. Playaway; MP3-CD.
HEGAMIN, Tonya Cherie. Willow. 8 CDs. 9:02 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 978148058553. MP3-CD.
Mandela: An Audio History. 1 CD. 1.25 hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2014. $16.95. ISBN 9781622314331.
Strasser, Todd. Fallout. 4 CDs. 5 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. $54.97. ISBN 9781480518469. MP3-CD.
Yancey, Rick. The Final Descent. (The Monstrumologist: Bk. 4). 6 CDs. 7:30 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. $66.75. ISBN 9781470397982. digital download.
123s and ABCs. Performed by Ella Jenkins. CD. 31 min. Smithsonian Folkways. 2014. ISBN unavail. $11.98.
Beauty Land. Performed by Dani. CD. approx. 39 min. danimusic.net. 2013. ISBN unavail. $12.99.
Block Party! Performed by Poochamungas. CD. 33 min. Train Rolls on Productions. 2013. ISBN unavail. $10.
Debbie and Friends: Variety Show. Performed by Debbie Cavalier and various artists. CD. approx. 35 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $9.95.
Gerry Rhymes: For Kids One to Ninety-Two. Performed by Geraldine Png. CD. approx. 59 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $12.
How the Sun and the Moon Came To Be and Other Playable Folktales from Around the World. Performed by Harry Wilkinson. CD. approx. 30 min. 2013. Createspace.com. ISBN unavail. $12.95.
In Stillness: Lullabies and Meditations for All Ages. Performed by Heidi Siegell. CD. 42 min. CDBaby.com. ISBN unavail. $15.
Tales From the Monstrosity Scrolls. Performed by Rainbow Beast & The Rock Band Land Rockers. CD. 71 min. CDBaby.com. 2014. ISBN unavail. $20.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Mies van Hout. Performed by the Chambers Family. tr book w/CD. approx. 12 min. 2014. ISBN 9781935954378. $19.95.