Friday, September 25, 2009

Audiobook Roundup

What's been spinning in my CD player lately? Hmm. If you're asking that, I suppose it's time for another Audiobook Roundup.

The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going. (Grades 4-6.) Listening Library, 2005.

Fourth grader Gabriel King has decided that he's not going to the fifth grade. It's too scar
y. So his best friend Frita comes up with the idea of writing down everything they're afraid of and using the summer of 1976 to face every single fear on their list so that they'll be braver. Gabe's list is quite long. But when he finds something that Frita truly fears in their town, he knows he'll have to be brave so he can stand beside her and help her fight it.

I'm not sure what inspired me to pick this up at my local library, but it was an unexpected joy. I love any children's book that can deal with a serious subject (like race relations in the 197
6 American South) in a child-friendly way. I loved the narration and this audiobook is only about 3 hours long, making it perfect for those with a shorter commute (or taking a short road trip).

26 Fairmount Avenue, Books 1-4 by Tomie DePaola. (Preschool - Grade 3.) Listening Library, 2002.

In these short autobiographical chapter books, Tomie DePaola tells of his childhood growing up at 26 Fairmount Avenue. His adventures include moving into a new house, welcoming a new baby sister, taking tap dancing lessons, and starting kindergarten. Read by the author himself, the audiobook made me feel like Tomie was sitting down and telling me the story of his life. Very cool. The entire collection of books 1-4 only run for about 4 hours, making this another great choice for short commutes (or short attention spans). Great for families with younger kids.

The School Story by Andrew Clements. (Grades 4-7.) Listening Library, 2002. The School Story is one of my favorite Andrew Clements books. Natalie's mom is a children's book editor and when she vents to Natalie about how hard it is to find good books to be published, Natalie has a solution. Unbeknownst to her mom, Natalie's been writing a book, a school story - just the type of book the publisher is looking for. And it's good. But Natalie's only in sixth grade, so how can she get her book published?

This is another short one, just over 3 hours, and narrator Spencer Kayden really brings the story to life with her different voices for each character.

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. (Grades 4-7.) Recorded Books, 1996. Gilly Hopkins has been shuttled around to several different foster homes since her mother left, and Gilly's perfected the art of not caring about anyone. When she arrives at the house of a new foster mother Mrs. Trotter, Gilly's certain she can drive Trotter crazy and break free to join her mother in California. But things don't turn out the way she planned.

I remember enjoying this book when I was in grade school and I was curious to see if it would hold up to a reread. When I saw that the audiobook is narrated by one of my favorite narrators (Alyssa Bresnahan), I picked it up immediately. Of course, I loved the narration, but I do wonder if The Great Gilly Hopkins is relevant to today's kids. Certainly we still have foster kids, but race relations in 1978 were different than they are today (I would hope so, anyway). Gilly harbors some prejudice towards African Americans that might mystify some of today's kids, although that might also lead to some interesting discussions. Also good to note is that the language might be objectionable to some.

So, that's what's been spinning in my CD player. How about yours?