2006 Selected Audiobooks Annotated List

“Acceleration,” by Graham McNamee, read by Scott Brick, Listening Library, 2005, 5.5 hours, 5 discs, 0-3072-0733-1, 4 cassettes, 0-3072-0732-3.

Working for the summer in the Toronto Transit Authority Lost and Found plunges one teenage boy into a terrifying search for a possible serial killer.  Scott Brick uses a mix of angst and intelligence to bring the character to life.

 

“Around the World in 80 Days,” by Jules Verne, read by Jim Dale, Listening Library, 2004, 7 hours, 53 minutes, 7 discs, 0-3072-0682-3, 5 cassettes, 0-3072-0628-9.

Shocking his stodgy colleagues at the exclusive Reform Club, enigmatic Englishman Phileas Fogg wagers his fortune on a bet to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days.  Jim Dale’s fully voiced reading perfectly captures the entire cast, and atmospheric special effects add to the story.

 

“Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception,” by Eoin Colfer, read by Nathaniel Parker, Listening Library, 2005, 7.5 hours, 6 discs, 0-3072-4333-8, 5 cassettes, 0-3072-4331-1.

As arch-villain Opal Kobai plots the annihilation of the world, the fairies are desperately in need of the help of young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl.  Parker recreates the fantastic voices and characters of the first three books, guiding listeners from one crisis to another to the thrilling conclusion.

 

“Bindi Babes,” by Narinder Dhami, read by Nina Wadia, Listening Library, 2004, 4 hours, 21 minutes, 4 cassettes, 1-4000-8538-1.

Annotation:  The three Dhillon sisters, Geena, Amber and Jazz, seem to have it all, until their Auntie from India comes to live with them in England and interferes with their seemingly perfect lives. Wadia’s authentic voice leads listeners through this hilarious and heart-wrenching voyage of self-discovery.

 

“Bird,” by Angela Johnson, read by Chantale Hosein, Kamahl Palmer, and Matthew Pavich, Listening Library, 2004, 2 hours, 10 minutes, 2 discs, 1-4000-9926-9, 2 cassettes, 1-4000-9925-0.

Bird is in hiding in Acorn, Alabama, hoping to find her lost stepfather and bring him back to Cleveland to reunite her family.  A lyrical story told in three voices examines the lives of young people whose lives are intertwined in ways none of them expected.

 

“Bras & Broomsticks,” by Sarah Mlynowski, read by Arlene Meyers, Listening Library, 2005, 8 hours, 11 minutes, 7 discs, 0-3072-0684-X, 6 cassettes, 1400098793.

Pimple-free skin, the ability to shake her booty, and a gorgeous date all seem to be just within Rachel's grasp when she discovers that her younger sister is a witch.  The narrator casts a lighthearted, magical spell on this hilarious tale.

 

“Buddha Boy,” by Kathe Koja, read by Spencer Murphy and the Full Cast Family, Full Cast Audio, 2004, 2 hours, 45 minutes, 3 discs, 1-9320-7653-0.

Justin finds himself drawn to the strange, peaceful newcomer Jinsen, mockingly called Buddha Boy by other high school students. An excellent full cast narration creates the full range of characters, while Murphy ably conveys Justin's transformation from Jinsen's reluctant project partner to a true advocate and stalwart friend.

 

“Colibrí,” by Ann Cameron, read by Jacqueline Kim, Listening Library, 2004, 4 hours, 45 minutes, 3 cassettes, 1-4000-8536-5, 5 discs, 1-4000-8993-X.

Rosa has almost forgotten her family eight years after being kidnapped when she discovers that her adoptive "Uncle" does not have her best interests at heart.  Jacqueline Kim's narration reflects the quiet and fierce resilience of Colibrí against seemingly insurmountable odds in a story that ultimately resonates with hope.

 

“Cruise Control,” by Terry Trueman, read by Andy Paris, Recorded Books, 2005, 3.5 hours, 3 cassettes, 1-4193-3109-4.

Top of his senior class and a three-letter sports star, Paul’s anger at his absent father and developmentally disabled younger brother threatens to derail his future. Conflicting emotions of guilt and loving protection are realistically expressed in Paris' restrained, tension-filled reading.

 

“Dear Zoe, A Novel,” by Philip Beard, read by Cassandra Morris, HighBridge, 2005, 4hours, 45 minutes, 5 discs, 1-56511-942-8.

Tess copes with family loss by writing letters to her three-year-old sister.  Morris’s emotional reading draws the listener into Tess’s painful passage from guilt to acceptance.

“Fish,” L. S. Matthews, read by J. Lamia, Listening Library, 2004, 3 hours, 13 minutes, 3 discs, 1-4000-8988-3, 2 cassettes, 1-4000-8521-7.

A haunting survival story set in a land of poverty, war, and drought, finds a missionary family fleeing for their lives.  The unpretentious, perfectly paced narration will appeal to teens who know the desperation of a flight from home.

 

“Flush,” by Carl Hiaasen, read by Michael Welch, Listening Library, 2005, 5 hours, 23 minutes, 5 discs, 0-307-28290-2, 4 cassettes, 0-307-28289-9.

With his environmental-activist father in jail, it’s up to Noah and his sister, Abbey, to prove that human waste is being flushed directly into the waters of the Florida Keys.  Welch’s brisk reading keeps listeners on the edge of their seats.
 

“Inventing Elliot,” by Graham Gardner, read by Dominic Taylor, Listening Library, 2004, 4   hours, 45 minutes, 4 cassettes, 1-8072-2320-4.

Elliot Sutton has reinvented himself for his new school, determined not to stand out except in all the right ways when the ruling Guardians invite him to join their group.  Taylor's reading slowly builds the tension, keeping the listener enthralled until the very end.

 

“Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy,” by Gary D. Schmidt, read by Sam Freed, Listening Library, 2005, 6 hours, 49 minutes, 6 discs, 0-307-28183-3.

A minister’s son forges a forbidden friendship with a girl from a nearby community of free blacks in this surprising historical tale of prejudice, and its effect upon a small town. Narration is pitch perfect, as Freed sensitively brings the characters Lizzie and Turner to life.

 

“Norman Tuttle on the Last Frontier: A Novel in Stories,” by Tom Bodett, read by the author, Listening Library 2004, 4 hours, 40 minutes, 4 discs, 1-4000-9495-X, 3 cassettes 1-4000-9057-1.

Funny and poignant episodes from Norman Tuttle's life as a teenager show him struggling to become an adult, occasionally making good choices, but mostly getting into trouble.  Storyteller Bodett’s rendering of Tuttle’s sarcastic humor is flawless.

 

“Pendragon, Book 1, The Merchant of Death,” by D.J. MacHale, read by William Dufris, Brilliance, 2005, 12 hours, 10 discs, 1-59737-238-2.

In the first of the popular adventure series, Bobby Pendragon discovers that he is a Traveler and must leave behind family and friends to save the universe.   MacHale’s strong narrative voice animates the story with exuberance.

 

“Princess in Training,” by Meg Cabot, read by Clea Lewis, Listening Library, 2005 6 hours, 17 minutes, 6 discs, 0-307-20670-X, 4 cassettes, 1-4000-9876-9.

Now a sophomore, Mia juggles Geometry class, student body presidency, and Michael, who has started college. The youthful voice of Lewis precisely portrays Mia in this continuation of the popular series.

 

“Prom,” by Laurie Halse Anderson, read by Katherine Kellgren, Recorded Books, 2005, 5.75 hours, 5 discs, 1-4193-5610-0, 4 cassettes, 1-419-35097-8.

Though she says she has no interest in going herself, high school senior Ashley pitches in to help her prom-crazy friends save the event after a teacher steals school funds.  Kellgren’s renders both Ashley’s scornful attitude as well as the naive voices of her friends.

“The Sea of Trolls,” by Nancy Farmer, read by Gerard Doyle, Recorded Books, 2004, 14 hours, 12 discs, 1-419-3082-03, 10 cassettes, 1-419-3209-04.

Doyle's narration perfectly captures the medieval world of Jack and Lucy, kidnapped from their quiet village by a fierce band of berzerkers.  This deliciously original tale is a retelling of the classic Jack and Jill story.

“The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts,” by Richard Peck, read by Dylan Baker, Listening Library 2004, 4 hours, 42 minutes, 5 discs, 1400094968, 4 cassettes, 1-4000-9103-9.

"If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it," says Russell Culver, until he finds out his own sister will be the new teacher! Baker captures the whining, complaining tones of a boy who thought the death of his teacher would mean no more school.

 

“Tiger, Tiger,” by Lynne Reid Banks, read by Jan Francis, Listening Library, 2005, 5 hours 3 minutes, 4 discs, 0-3072-4638-0, 3 cassettes, 0-3072-4546-2.
Two tiger cubs are captured in the wild, one to become a pet of the emperor’s daughter and one to attack gladiators in the Roman coliseum. Jan Francis’ masterful reading transports us to ancient Rome and the life of the servant and royal classes.

“Truth About Forever,” by Sara Dessen, read by Stina Nielsen, Recorded Books, 2005. 12 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, 1-419-3387-9X, 9 cassettes, 1-4193-2648-1.

Macy, the perfect daughter, student, and athlete, struggles to grieve for the death of her father and to accept her own flaws.  Nielsen’s reading expresses both Macy’s peculiarities and the poignancy of her struggle.

 

“The Truth About Sparrows,” by Marian Hale, read by Emily Janice Card, Listening Library, 2005, 5 hours, 36 minutes, 4 cassettes, 0-3072-0720-X.
Sadie and her close-knit family leave the drought of Missouri to head for a better life in Texas working at a shrimp cannery.  Sadie comes to life through Card’s vibrant voice, filled with emotional resonance.

 

“Whale Rider,” by Witi Ihimaera, read by Jay Laga'aia, Bolinda Audio, 2005, 3 hours, 40 minutes, 4 discs, 1-7409-3558-6.

The book behind the award-winning film recounts the story of a young Maori girl who breaks with tradition by becoming the first female leader of her people.  Reading with authority and restrained emotion, Laga’aia is the perfect guide through Ihimaera's stunning portrayal of Maori culture and belief.

 

“The Young Man and the Sea,” by Rodman Philbrick, read by Kirby Heyborne, Listening Library, 2004, 3 hours, 48 minutes, 3 cassettes, 1-400-9460-7.

Skiff Beaman takes his father's boat 30 miles into the ocean, searching for a prize fish and discovering that he is completely unprepared for what the sea has in store for him.  Heyborne’s convincing range exposes both the mood of the young protagonist as well as that of Skiff’s depressed, alcoholic father.

 

Members of the 2006 Audiobooks and Media Exploration Committee are:  Carly M. Wiggins, Chair, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana.; Josephine Caisse, Deschutes Public Library System, Bend, Oregon.; Lynn Piper Carpenter, State Library & Archives of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida; Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, Southfield, Michigan; LeNee K. Gatton, King County Library System, North Bend and Sammamish, Washington.; Sharon Grover, Arlington Public Library, Arlington, Virginia; Gay Ann Loesch, Sun Valley Middle School, Indian Trail, North Carolina; Sarah McCarville, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Drue Wagner-Mees, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, California.