Down the Mysterly River

Down the Mysterly River (unabr.). 7 CDs. 8:34 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2011. ISBN 978-1-4558-3747-2. $54.97.
Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Max awakens to find himself in unfamiliar woods with no memory of how he got there. Fortunately, he's a boy scout, and a detective to boot, so he's quite prepared to solve the mystery. As his quest ensues, Max befriends an array of talking animals: Banderbrock, the warrior badger; MacTavish, the cantankerous tom cat; and Walden, the good-natured bear. Dick Hill provides a distinctive voice and accent for each character and captures the appropriate persona. Bill Willingham's story (Starscape, 2011) reads like an old-fashioned childhood classic, with a setting somewhere between The Hundred Acre Wood and The Yellow Brick Road with a smidge of Kipling's Just So Stories. Middle school listeners, especially boys, will be drawn into the adventure and should be able to handle the bit of violence involved as Max and his party try to outwit the menacing Blue Cutters (with their sharp blades) and make it to the wizard who they believe can give them some answers. It's an interesting tale with a unique and clever twist. Dick Hill's voice is rich and deep, but his rendition seems a bit too deliberate. At times his diction appears forced and he over emphasizes certain syllables, making the listening experience somewhat uncomfortable.—Patricia McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA

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