February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Make ‘Em Laugh | Listen In

SLJ1504-ListenIn_openerHumor is the ideal way to get listeners of all ages hooked on audiobooks—everyone loves to laugh! This month’s collection of audiobooks features a riverboat gambler, a peripatetic bunny, some possibly sinister carrots, a healthy dose of sarcasm, and plenty of practical jokes, all guaranteed to produce smiles, chuckles, and guffaws.

Early Elementary

CRONIN, Doreen. The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure. 1 CD. 30 min. Recorded Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490615653. digital download.

Gr 1-3 –Adam Grupper and Michele O. Medlin are hilarious as the voices of retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully, “four fuzzy little chicks” (they know their shapes AND solve mysteries!), and a terrified squirrel with an excellent vocabulary, but poor shape knowledge. Narration that moves from deadpan to youthful excitement will have young listeners and their adult companions rolling with laughter.

KAPLAN, Michael B. Betty Bunny Didn’t Do It. 1 CD with tr book. 12 min. Live Oak Media. 2014. $29.95. ISBN 9781430117698.

PreS-Gr 2 –Betty Bunny gets herself in deep trouble when she blames the Tooth Fairy after breaking a lamp. Stéphane Jorisch’s detailed illustrations pair with lively music and sound effects as Katherine Kellgren captures the emotions of the entire Bunny family in the precocious preschooler’s latest escapade.

REYNOLDS, Aaron. Creepy Carrots. 1 CD with tr book. 13 min. Weston Woods. 2013. $29.95. ISBN 9780545623797.

PreS-Gr 2 –Jasper Rabbit loves carrots from Crackenhopper Field. He eats them all the time and everywhere, until… they start following him! James Naughton’s baritone heightens the humor of Jasper’s battle with the vengeful veggies. Spooky music and sound effects are a perfect match for Peter Brown’s ominous charcoal and orange illustrations.

SLJ1504-ListenIn_StripMiddle Grade

CLEMENTS, Andrew. No Talking. 3 CDs. 3 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2007. $19.95. ISBN 9780743566926.

Gr 3-6 –Keith Nobbs captures the tones and cadence of early adolescence in this battle between fifth grade boys and girls. Known since kindergarten as the “Un-Shushables” for their constant loud bickering, the kids’ sudden silence startles parents and teachers when ringleaders Dave and Lynsey declare a 48-hour no-talking competition. How will the standoff end?

FLAKE, Sharon. Unstoppable Octobia May. 6 CDs. 6:21 hrs. Scholastic Audio. 2014. $54.99. ISBN 9780545746458.

Gr 3-6 –Comedic escapades, a dash of mystery, and Southern family life in 1953 combine for a thoroughly engaging audio. Bahni Turpin’s narration demonstrates her distinctive talent and repertoire of vocal flourishes.

SCIESZKA, Jon. Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka. 2 CDs. 1:59 hrs. Brilliance. 2008. $42.97. ISBN 9781423399759.

Gr 3-6 –Scieszka’s conversational tone is just right for his reminiscences of his and his five brothers’ irreverent and hilarious adventures. Always noting the consequences of disobedience, he recounts tomfoolery that earned reprisals from his parents and tried the patience of the nuns at his Catholic school.

GRIFFITHS, Andy. Just Tricking. (Just: Bk. 11). 2 CDs. 2 hrs. Brilliance. 2012. $29.97. ISBN 9781743195048.

Gr 3-6 –Practical jokes are at the center of Griffiths’s stories. The outlandish antics are highlighted by music, sound effects, and Stif Wemyss’s Australian accent. Funny bones will be tickled as young Andy causes pandemonium, whether dressed in a gorilla suit or “playing dead.”

HELGERSON, Joseph. Crows & Cards. 6 CDs. 7 hrs. Brilliance. 2009. $69.97. ISBN 9781423391753.

Gr 4-8 –Traveling by riverboat, Zebulon Crabtree falls under the spell of an unscrupulous gambler and connects with some colorful characters. MacLeod Andrews’s voicing accentuates Zeb’s emotions and highlights the entertaining personalities of other passengers.

Young Adult

CURTIS, Christopher Paul. Bucking the Sarge. 5 CDs. 6:10 hrs. Listening Library. 2004. $45. ISBN 9781400094844.

Gr 8 Up –Luther T. Farrell is anxious to break free from his malicious slumlord mother. Encouraged by his friend Sparky and an elderly resident of one of his mother’s properties, Luther escapes in circumstances that will elicit giggles and reflection. Michael Boatman’s narration captures Luther’s youthful humor.

FANTASKEY, Beth. Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. 9 CDs. 11 hrs. Recorded Books. 2009. $97.75. ISBN 9781440738920. Playaway, digital download.

Gr 7 Up –An American teen discovers that the handsome, egotistical Romanian exchange student is not what he seems—and neither is she. He is Prince Lucius Vladescu, come to claim her as his vampire bride! Katherine Kellgren and Jeff Woodman inhabit these humorous characters with nuanced, comedic performances.

HIAASEN, Carl. Skink, No Surrender. (Skink: Bk. 7). 7 CDs. 7:50 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $40. ISBN 9780804166904. digital download.

Gr 7 Up –When 15-year-old Richard meets one-eyed renegade ex-governor Skink, they form a pact to rescue Richard’s misguided cousin, and an improbable, entertaining adventure begins. The humor combines sarcasm, an over-the-top plot, and some very funny scenarios. Kirby Heyborne’s vocal talent is clearly evident as his performance presents the cast of characters with aplomb.

LUBAR, David. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie. 6 CDs. 6:45 hrs. Full Cast Audio. 2006. $29.99. ISBN 9781501237485.

Gr 7 Up –Scott Hudson is having a no-good, very bad freshman year. The school bully singles him out, the crew on the school play treat him like their lackey, and his mother is pregnant! Ryan MacConnell’s performance combines with clever dialogue and absurd situations to keep listeners chuckling.

Sharon Grover is head of youth services at the Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, WI. Lizette (Liz) Hannegan was a school librarian and the district library supervisor for the Arlington (VA) Public Schools before her retirement.

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Thanks for sharing a list that will make our summer road trips a breeze