2002 Notable Children's Recordings

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2002 Notable Children's Recordings Committee:  Bruce S. Farrar, Chair, Public Library of Nashville and Davidson County (Tenn.); Thomas J. Barthelmess, Spokane County (Wash.) Library District; Virginia Griffith Gustin, Sonoma County (Calif.) Library; Patricia Jefferson, Runaway Bay, Texas; Vivian Landfair, Ortona Elementary School, Daytona Beach, Fla.; Elizabeth A. Long, New York Public Library; Alice R. Neve, Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Library; Diane G. Person, Long Island University, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Margie Stern, Delaware County Library System, Media, Pa.; Veronica L.C. Stevenson, The Danbury (Conn.) Library; and Bernice L. Yesner, Woodbridge, Conn.

All Wound Up.   Rounder Kids.   43mins.   CD, $16.98; Cassette, $10.98

With a little help from their friends Brave Combo, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer present this lively collection of original and traditional songs ranging in style from African to Jazz to Polka.

The Bad Beginning.   Listening Library.   3hrs., 17 mins.   2 cassettes, $23.00. ISBN: 0-8072-8847-0.

The three Baudelaire orphans are magnets for misfortune.   The siblings’ villainous uncle, Count Olaf, is more often than not the architect of the particular bits of misery that afflict them.   In this, the first of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, Tim Curry gives a bodacious, over-the-top reading.

Because of Winn-Dixie.   Listening Library.   2hrs. 2 cassettes, $23.00. ISBN: 0-8072-8856-X

After moving to a new town, India Opal Buloni doesn’t stay lonely for long after she adopts a smiling dog at the supermarket.   Cherry Jones flawlessly performs the role of Opal as she settles into her life filled with friends, love, and acceptance.

Black Angels.   Recorded Books.   4hrs.   3 cassettes, $28.00

In 1961, Mystic, GA is divided down the middle, and Celli Johnson lives on the white side.   When racial trouble starts in town, three little black angels begin visiting Celli.   Julia Gibson powerfully narrates this special, historical novel, tempered with the faintest touch of fairy tale.

Buttons.   Spoken Arts.   14mins.   Cassette and book, $26.90

David Hyde Pierce’s narration conveys the slapstick humor inherent in three daughters’ nonsensical efforts to replace the lost buttons on their father’s britches.   Charming music enthusiastically captures the whimsical tone of Brock Cole’s original tale.

Chet Gecko – Private Eye.   Listening Library.   2hrs., 34 mins.   2 cassettes, $23.00. ISBN: 0-8072-8860-8.

Narrator Jon Cryer’s vivid voices and film-noir attitude, combined with author Bruce Hale’s silly jokes and puns, make for hilarious crime busting at Emerson Hickey Elementary School.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.   Weston Woods.   7mins.   Cassette and hardcover book, $24.95. Cassette only, $6.95

What’s a farmer to do when his livestock demands electric blankets? You couldn’t ask for a better narrator of Doreen Cronin’s tale of rural labor unrest than country singer and actor Randy Travis.

Country Goes Raffi.   Rounder Kids.   41mins.   CD, $17.95; Cassette, $11.95

Sparkling stars of country music, young and not so young, celebrate Raffi’s simple ebullience in this collection of sweet and bubbly favorites.   Fine production enhances consistently well-wrought, spirited and touching interpretations.

Fireside Tales: More Lessons From The Animal People.   Yellow Moon Press.   70mins.   CD, $14.95; Cassette, $9.95

Storyteller Dovie Thomason Sickles performs several traditional tales primarily from the Iroquois Nation.   With the haunting beat of the drum, her husband Micky Sickles calls the audience to the story and gives them the opportunity to look at themselves and their world in a new way.

The Fledgling.   Listening Library.   4hrs., 30 mins   3 cassettes, $30.00. ISBN: 0-8072-8778-4.

Georgie delights when a mysterious Canada goose appears at her window and invites her to fly along with him.   Mary Beth Hurt’s refreshing characterization captures the thrill of flight when those who love Georgie attempt to keep her grounded.

Heaven Eyes.   Listening Library.   5hrs., 7 mins.   3 cassettes, $30.00. ISBN: 0-8072-8879-9.

Three runaway orphans carried by raft to the muddy Black Middens meet Heaven Eyes, a peculiar child with webbed hands and feet, who lives with her Grandpa in an abandoned building.   Amanda Plummer creates a unique voice for each of these “damaged children” in this surreal setting.

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg.   Weston Woods.   8mins.   Cassette and hardcover book, $24.95. Cassette only, $6.95.

Henry is sure he can walk the 30 miles to Fitchburg faster than his friend can earn train fare, so the two bears set out to see who will arrive first.   Based on a passage from Walden, this allegorical fable is told against a background of music perfectly suited to a ramble through the countryside.

Henry Huggins.   Harper Children’s Audio.   2hrs.   2 cassettes, $18.00. ISBN: 0694525294. 3 CDs, $20.00. ISBN: 0694525251.

Listeners will once again meet the irresistible characters in Beverly Cleary’s classic tale Henry Huggins.   Neil Patrick Harris captures the innocence and spirit of the precocious youngster in this heartwarming and engaging story.

Homeless Bird.   Listening Library.   3hrs., 15 mins.   2 cassettes, $23.00. ISBN: 0-8072-8858-6.

Sarita Choudhury brings an authentic voice to Koly, a thirteen year-old Indian Girl forced into a harrowing set of circumstances stemming from an ill-fated arranged marriage. The listener delights as Koly puts her life together again, one stitch at a time.

I, Crocodile.   Weston Woods.   9mins.   cassette and hardcover book, $24.95. Cassette only $6.95

Tim Curry’s voice enlivens this tale of the egotistical, self-important, and hungry crocodile who leaves Egypt, and for a while, becomes Napoleon’s darling in Paris. But, what do you eat when you’re out of favor?

inFINity.   Trout Records.   35mins.   CD, $14.98

Trout Fishing in America takes us on a tuneful musical outing, building songs of sophisticated chord progressions, unusual orchestrations, and complex structure, all the while maintaining an easy accessibility.   Clever lyrics match celebratory melodies, one after the other, in this fine collection.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.   Live Oak Media.   14mins.   Cassette and hardcover book, $25.95. ISBN: 0874997836.

Caldecott Award-winner Simms Taback perfectly narrates his own telling of Joseph who made something of nothing, over and over again.   Traditional Klezmer music creates an authentic Eastern European flavor.   And, as a happy bonus, the author sings the classic song in both English and Yiddish.  

The King’s Equal.   Recorded Books.   45mins.   Cassette, $10.00

Will Prince Raphael find his equal in beauty, intelligence, and wealth, take her as a wife, and thus be crowned King?   Narrator Davina Porter’s colorful voice moves ably between the Prince’s prickly scorn and the earnest innocence of his intended.

The Magician’s Nephew.   Harper Children’s Audio.   4hrs.   4 CDs, $27.50. ISBN: 0694526207. 3 cassettes, $24.00. ISBN: 0694526193.

For the first of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Kenneth Branagh reads the story of two English children pursued through time and space by a powerful, evil witch.   They find a dead world and witness the birth of a new one, Narnia.

Mama Don’t Allow.   Live Oak Media.   11mins.   Cassette and paperback book, $15.95. ISBN: 0-87499-743-7

Tom Chapin provides a rousing performance of Thacher Hurd’s bayou adventure as the Swamp Band narrowly avoids becoming dinner for the cunning neighborhood alligators.   Lively jazz tunes accompany the enthusiastic storytelling.

Mole Music.   Live Oak Media.   8mins.   Cassette and hardcover book, $24.95. ISBN: 0-87499-748-8.

Mole longs to play the violin and practices steadily in his underground home, not realizing that, above ground, his music is influencing listeners in exactly the way he has imagined.   Classical and folk tunes, performed by violinist Richard Auldon Clark, accompany Jim Weiss’s narration.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters.   Live Oak Media.   17min.   Cassette and paperback book, $15.95. ISBN: 0-87499-655-4.

Robin Miles’ narration invites the listener to travel through the African jungle with Mufaro as his daughters journey to meet the King.   An authentic voice and original music enliven John Steptoe’s classic African Tale.

Mystery on the Docks.   Live Oak Media.   10mins.   Cassette and paperback book, $15.95. 0-87499-751-8.

Tense narration, spooky sound effects, and a bevy of villainous voices lend old-time-radio suspense to this charming picture book and cassette combination.   John Beach’s audible winking and perfect pace only add to the fun.

Notes From a Liar and Her Dog.   Listening Library.   5hrs., 25 mins. 4 cassettes, $32.00. ISBN: 0-8072-0499-4.

Faced with a life that she doesn’t much care for, Ant MacPherson has invented a better one.   In a tender reading that is both funny and sad, Ariadne Meyers beautifully narrates this story of a middle child’s search for her true self.

Over Sea, Under Stone.   Listening Library.   7hrs.   6 cassettes, $40.00. ISBN: 0-8072-0480-3.

Narrator Alex Jennings brings to life each of the characters in Susan Cooper’s well-known novel.   In his crisp, clear British accent Jennings sweeps the reader into a thrilling, magical adventure.

The Princess Diaries.   Listening Library.   5hrs., 54 mins.   4 cassettes, $32.00. ISBN: 0-8072-0514-1.

Narrator Anne Hathaway becomes Mia Thermopolis in this hilarious story of a Manhattan girl who suddenly discovers that she is the Princess of Genovia.   The listener is swept into Mia’s totally new lifestyle, as she must adjust to princess lessons, notoriety, and the thought of moving to Genovia.

The Reptile Room.   Listening Library.   3hrs., 11 mins.   2 cassettes, $23.00. ISBN: 0-8072-8868-3.

In the second installment of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf is back, chasing the poor Beaudelaires and clutching after their fortune.   Tim Curry’s stellar performance makes for a woeful, diabolical, and thoroughly hilarious listening experience.

The Treasure.   Live Oak Media.   6mins.   Cassette and paperback book, $15.95. ISBN: 0-87499-754-2.

An eloquently read story told in gentle cadenced tones reminds listeners that happiness is often found in the peace and quiet of our own homes.   Jim Weiss’s nostalgic narration recreates the Eastern European setting in this classic Uri Shulevitz’s Caldecott Honor book.

The Ugly Duckling.   Weston Woods.   19mins.   Cassette and book, $24.95; Cassette only, $6.95

Lynn Whitfield reads this adaptation of the beloved Andersen story in a warm and thoughtful manner affording the listener a chance to absorb Jerry Pinkney’s lovely illustrations.   Original music complements the text.

Witness.   Listening Library.   2hrs.   2 cassettes, $23.00; CD, $33.00

In 1924, the citizens of a town in Vermont turn against their own when the Ku Klux Klan moves in and begins to recruit members. Leanora who is African American, and Esther who is Jewish, find themselves in the greatest danger.   A complete cast of characters tells the story of a town brought to the brink of disaster.