Booklist Editors' Choice: Media
Video & DVD
The Boy in the Bubble. 60min. PBS, VHS, $54.95 (0-7936-4992-7); DVD, $59.95 (0-7936-9220-2).
This heart-wrenching title raises questions of medical ethics and quality of life as it follows the plight of David Vetter, who suffered from an immune deficiency disease and was placed in a sterile plastic bubble until his death in 1983 at age 12.
Carrie’s War. 90min. WGBH, VHS, $19.95 (1-59375-585-6); DVD, $19.95 (1-59375-586-4).
This visually beautiful and emotionally satisfying adaptation of Nina Bowden’s novel tells the story of 14-year-old Carrie and her younger brother who were sent at the beginning of World War II to Wales, where they lived with a stern shopkeeper and his more compassionate sister.
Country Boys. 6hr. PBS, VHS, $34.99; DVD, $34.99.
From acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland comes this compelling film that follows two likable teenagers who attend an alternative high school in rural eastern Kentucky. The wandering, inconspicuous camera reveals the teens’ conversations, activities, emotions, struggles, and interpersonal relationships, inviting viewers to infer meaning, reflect, and draw conclusions. (Top of the List winner—Video & DVD.)
Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen. 4hr. WGBH, VHS, $29.95 (1-59375-531-7); 2 DVDs, $29.95 (1-59375-532-5).
This riveting Masterpiece Theatre production follows the life and 44-year reign of Good Queen Bess. Powerful acting, exquisite period costumes, authentic settings, and wonderful music contribute to the drama’s historical authenticity.
God or the Girl. 4hr. A & E, DVD, $24.95.
Viewers are quickly drawn into the struggles of four young men as they contemplate becoming Roman Catholic priests and wrestle with questions of celibacy and service to God.
Great Berkshire Gardens: The Nine Seasons. 79min. National Film Network, DVD, $29.95 (0-8026-0565-6).
Enhanced with lovely music, poetry selections, historic photographs, brief reenactments, and beautiful footage, the program tours exquisite gardens in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts and interviews ecologists, landscape historians, and numerous gardening experts.
Niagara Falls. 60min. PBS, DVD, $59.95 (0-7936-9167-2).
Mariette Hartley narrates this entertaining program, a mix of contemporary and archival footage and quirky commentary celebrating Niagara Falls’ evolution from Native American spiritual site to glitzy tourist trap.
No Direction Home. 3.5hr. PBS, 2DVDs, $29.99.
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s outstanding profile of Bob Dylan includes photographs, rare interviews, home movies, and performance footage of Dylan and other noteworthy artists, including the Clancy Brothers, Johnny Cash, and Woody Guthrie.
That New Animal. 6min. Weston Woods, VHS, $60 (0-439-84926-5); DVD, $59.95 (0-439-84923-4). PreS–Gr. 2.
Author Emily Jenkins narrates this gentle iconographic adaptation of her picture book, which follows the unenthusiastic response of two family dogs to a new baby in the house.
Transgeneration. 6hr. Docurama, 2 DVDs, $29.95.
This deftly edited, groundbreaking documentary presents a frank year-in-the-life look at four transgender college students. The film skillfully weaves the students’ stories, capturing similarities and differences in their lives.
Twinkle, Twinkle. 90min. Questar, DVD, $14.99 (1-59464-226-5). K–Gr. 3.
Narration and dance blend together smoothly in 12 theme-based tales in which characters come to life through performances by Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancers, representing such characters as a clown, soldier, and china doll.
Wild about Books. 8min. Weston Woods, VHS, $60 (0-439-80487-6); DVD, $59.95 (0-439-80483-3). PreS–Gr. 2.
Bright colors leaping off the page, animals racing across the screen in search of new books, and a lively, rhyming text add up to a spectacular adaptation of Judy Sierra’s picture book, excellently narrated by Catherine O’Hara.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. 83min. Docurama, DVD, $26.95.
Beautifully photographed and gracefully edited, this program follows offbeat bird lover Mark Bittner as he voluntarily cares for a flock of wild parrots in his San Francisco neighborhood.
Windsor Castle: A Royal Year. 5hr. Acorn, DVD, $29.99 (1-56938-851-2).
Anglophiles and royal watchers will relish this inside view of Windsor Castle and the army of staff who maintain the “Queen’s favorite house.”
Wordplay. 85min. IFC Films, DVD, $24.95
Solving crossword puzzles is addictive for many, as evidenced in this fascinating film that interviews those who edit, create, and solve puzzles, including President Bill Clinton, comic Jon Stewart, filmmaker Ken Burns, and New York Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina.
Audio for Adults
Anansi Boys. By Neil Gaiman. Read by Lenny Henry. 10hr. Harper, CD, $39.95 (0-06-082384-4).
In a smooth British accent that easily slides into a slight Caribbean lilt, Henry nails the reading of this trickster tale about Fat Charlie Nancy who discovers a long-lost brother named Spider—a sly hipster who brings both magic and havoc into Fat Charlie’s life. (Top of the List winner—Audio.)
The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth. By Leigh Montville. Read by Scott Brick. 16hr. Books on Tape, CS, $90 (1-4159-3027-9); CD, $96 (1-4159-3028-7).
Brick’s canny reading of this excellent biography of the Babe touches all bases as he captures this golden age of sports and imparts the pathos of the Hall of Fame slugger’s later years.
Dean and Me: A Love Story. By Jerry Lewis. Read by Stephen Hoye. 9hr. Books on Tape, CS, $81 (1-4159-2477-5); CD, $99 (1-4159-2478-3).
By turns loony and schmaltzy, Hoye’s reading mimics Lewis’ familiar delivery as well as Martin’s trademark silky purr in this engaging memoir by the self-described putz.
Gone. By Lisa Gardner. Read by Anna Fields. 11hr. Books on Tape, CS, $81 (1-4159-2737-5); CD, $99 (1-4159-2738-3).
Fields evokes the emotions of the characters with subtlety and nuance in her superb reading of this gripping mystery about the perplexing disappearance of investigator and child-advocate Lorraine “Rainie” Conner.
The Historian. By Elizabeth Kostova. Read by Justine Eyre and Paul Michael. 26hr. Books on Tape, CS, $129 (1-4159-2900-9); CD, $149 (1-4159-2901-7).
With a wide range of distinctive voice impersonations, Eyre and Michael sound like a full cast in their reading of this atmospheric horror tale of a young woman whose search for her father leads her into a world of academia and vampires.
It’s in His Kiss. By Julia Quinn. Read by Simon Prebble. 10hr. Recorded Books, CS, $69.75 (1-4193-2876-4); CD, $119.75 (1-4193-8278-0).
Prebble’s virtuoso performance, containing a perfect combination of urbane and seductive tones, captures the emotional intensity and humor of this high-spirited, sensual romance.
The Judgment of Paris. By Ross King. Read by Tristan Layton. 15hr. BBC/Sound Library, CS, $84.95 (0-7927-3906-X); CD, $112.95 (0-7927-3907-8).
Layton’s brilliant, authoritative narration of this historical novel is intensified by the sense of familiarity and immediacy he projects about the artistic conflicts and political alliances roiling the volatile art scene in mid-nineteenth-century Paris.
An Ordinary Man. By Paul Rusesabagina. Read by Dominic Hoffman. 8hr. Books on Tape, CS, $54 (1-4159-2889-4); CD, $72 (1-4159-2890-8).
Rusesabagina’s memoir of his heroic efforts to spare the lives of more than 1,200 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide is read with soft-spoken dignity in a slight African accent with European undertones.
Possible Side Effects. By Augusten Burroughs. Read by Augusten Burroughs. 10hr. BBC/Sound Library, CD, $79.95 (0-7927-4015-7).
Burroughs assumes the role of narrator with splendid results in his latest, a series of mostly irreverent recollections and sketches drawn from his own life.
Suite Francaise. By Irene Nemirovsky. Read by Daniel Oreskes and Barbara Rosenblat. 13hr. HighBridge, CD, $39.95 (1-59887-020-3).
This gem of a novel about the German occupation of France benefits from the narration of Oreskes and Rosenblat, who readily capture the urgency and fear of those under siege.
To Kill a Mockingbird. By Harper Lee. Read by Sissy Spacek. 12.5hr. Recorded Books, CS, $99.75 (1-428-1135-09); CD, $99.75 (1-428-1135-17).
Spacek’s memorable reading lives up to the brilliance of this American classic as she pulls listeners deep into the events of a sleepy Alabama town through her perfectly paced narration, which is both lilting and drawling.
Beethoven’s Wig 3. 40min. Rounder, CD, $12.98 (1-57940-114-7). Gr. 2–4.
Sixteen classical selections set to engaging lyrics highlight a host of child-friendly musical works in this engaging collection that will surely make converts out of kids who are unfamiliar with or abhor classical music.
Blues Journey. By Walter Dean Myers. Read by Richard Allen. 30min. Live Oak, CS and hardcover, $25.95 (1-59519-429-0); CD and hardcover, $28.95 (1-59519-433-9). Gr. 5–8.
Allen’s soulful reading and singing of the blues-inspired verse enhance Myers’ poetic picture book as does accompanying music, reflective of different periods of blues music.
Lionboy: The Truth. By Zizou Corder. Read by Simon Jones. 6hr. HighBridge, CS, $29.95 (1-56511-990-8); CD, $29.95 (1-56511-991-6). Gr. 5–8.
Jones’ deep, resonant tones build suspense in his outstanding narration of this gripping science fiction adventure about the kidnapping of Catspeaker Charlie by the evil Corporacy.
Looking for Alaska. By John Green. Read by Jeff Woodman. 7hr. Brilliance, CD, $82.25 (1-4233-2445-5). Gr. 9–12.
Woodman offers a perfect mix of humor and self-deprecating sarcasm in his reading of this stunning debut novel in which 16-year-old Alabama boarding-school student Miles becomes enamored with an emotionally turbulent girl named Alaska.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. By Kate DiCamillo. Read by Judith Ivey. 2hr. Listening Library, CS, $23 (0-308-24594-2); CD, $24 (0-307-24595-0). Gr. 2–4.
Ivey navigates the story of a beautiful but self-centered china rabbit as he unwittingly sets off on a journey that enables him to see beyond himself to the love that exists in the world.
The Ruins of Gorlan. By John Flanagan. Read by John Keating. 8hr.Recorded Books, CD, $74.75 (1-4193-3939-5). Gr. 5–8.
Keating’s forced fricatives and cringing consonants articulate this first title in a new fantasy series in which diminutive Will is chosen by the mysterious and taciturn Halt to train as a ranger’s apprentice.
Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood. By Benjamin Alire Saenz. Read by Robert Ramirez. 9hr. Listening Library, CS, $45 (0-307-28591-X); CD, $60 (0-307-28592-8). Gr. 9–12.
Ramirez gives smart teen Sammy Santos a mix of sweetness and vulnerability that edges ever closer to hard bitterness in this story in which Sammy faces eye-opening growth and anger during his senior year in high school.
Small Steps. By Louis Sachar. Read by Michael McClarin. 5hr. Listening Library, CS, $25 (0-307-28222-8); CD, $30 (0-307-28223-6). Gr. 6–9.
McClarin’s strong delivery and simple but effective use of dialect showcase the diverse and believable cast of characters in this follow-up to Holes (1998).
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. 55min. Simon & Simon, CD, $16.98 (1-932684-07-0). Gr. 3–5.
Watch kids’ musical horizons expand as they experience this classic tale of mayhem and misadventure through a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a lively explanation of the work’s history and major musical components, and more.
Tall and Small. 42min. Big Truck Music, CD, $15. K–Gr. 3.
Including pop-country styles, Caribbean-inspired rhythms, sweetly lyrical melodies, and rock ’n’ roll–inspired music, this collection of 14 original tunes has something for every mood and every moment.
What I Call Life. By Jill Wolfson. 6.5hr. Full Cast, CD, $37 (1-933322-70-5). Gr. 5–8.
In this excellent full-ensemble production, young Grace Kelly effectively reads the principal narrator role and that of 11-year-old protagonist Cal Lavender, who is moved to a group home after her unstable mother causes an incident in the library.