YALSA - For Members Only 2003 Selected Audiobooks Annotated List
The Audio Book and Media Exploration Committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, announces its fifth Selected List of Audiobooks for Young Adults.
The titles appearing here have been selected from the past two years of spoken word releases. They have been selected for their appeal to a teen audience, the quality of their recording, and because they enhance the audience’s appreciation of any written work on which they may be based. While the list as a whole addresses the interests and needs of young adults ranging in age from 12 to 18, individual titles may appeal to parts of that range rather than to its whole.
All-American Girl, by Meg Cabot, read by Ariadne Meyers, Listening Library, 2002, 5 cassettes, 7 hours, 0-8072-0902-3. Terrified her parents will discover she’s cut her art class, Samantha downplays her role in saving the President from assassination. The reader slides effortlessly from the no-nonsense tones of our heroine to her sisters’ distinctive verbal styles to her new boyfriend’s suavity.
The Beetle and Me: A Love Story, by Karen Romano Young, read by Julie Dretzin, Recorded Books, 2001, 4 cassettes, 5.75 hours, 0-7887-5017-8. 15-year-old Daisy copes with school, romance, her extended family, and repairing her father’s 1957 Volkswagen Beetle. The reading is as clear and direct as Daisy would like life to seem.
Breathing Underwater, by Alex Flinn, read by Jon Cryer, Listening Library, 2002, 3 cassettes, 5 hours and 8 minutes, 0-8072-0686-5. When Nick slaps his girlfriend, he begins to realize that he may wear the same mask that hides his own abusive father behind a charming exterior. The narrator’s subtle nuances convey Nick’s emotions of immediate denial and eventual acceptance of responsibility for his actions.
Catalyst, by Laurie Halse Anderson, read by Samantha Mathis, Listening Library, 2002, 4 cassettes, 6 hours, 0-8072-0940-6. Kate, math whiz and straight-A high school senior, reexamines her priorities in the wake of a fire that devastates another girl’s home. The narrator provides a credible voice for this usually competent, but sometimes frustrated, young heroine.
Devil’s Island, by David Harris, read by Peter Hardy, Bolinda Audio, 2001, 2 cassettes, 2 hours and 30 minutes, 1-74030-355-5. Luke’s kayaking trip quickly becomes a dangerous adventure when he lands on an island inhabited by a desperate recluse. Regaled with the intensity of a radio drama, the action unfolds at breakneck speed.
Firehouse, by David Halberstam, read by Mel Foster, BrillianceAudio, 2002, 4 cassettes, 5 hours, ISBN 1-59086-344-5. The events and aftermath of September 11, 2001, as experienced by the staff of one New York City Fire Department engine company, are reported in close and poignant detail.
Forged by Fire, by Sharon M. Draper, read by Thomas Penny, Recorded books, 2002, 3 cassettes, 3.75 hours, 1-4025-0892-1. Gerald gains a new and more stable home as a toddler, loses it in grade school when his neglectful mother reclaims him, and gains full maturity as a teenager when he exposes his stepfather’s sleazy behavior. The reading offers listeners an experience of oral storytelling at its most expert.
A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton-Porter, read by Christina Moore, Recorded Books, 2001, 9 cassettes, 12 hours, 0-7887-5106-9. Elnora seeks advanced education and acquires a paying job as a naturalist’s assistant after growing to high school age outside town society and under the reigns of a stern mother. The reader voices a full range of characters and emotions affectingly.
Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen, read by Chad Lowe, Listening Library, 2002, 4 cassettes, 6 hours and 30 minutes, 0-8072-0923-6. Life in his new home in Florida starts to look up for Roy when he discovers a mystery in the form of a barefoot boy with a sack of sparkling snakes. The skillful narration captures the humor and irony of the author’s first novel for young adults.
Make Lemonade, by Virginia Euwer Wolff, read by Heather Alicia Simms, Listening Library, 2002, 3 cassettes, 3 hours and 33 minutes, 0-8072-0689-X; and True Believer, by Virginia Euwer Wolff, read by Heather Alicia Simms, Listening Library, 2002, 3 cassettes, 3.75 hours, 0-8072-0692-X. 14-yearold LaVaughn takes on the challenge of earning college money by helping an only slightly older single mother; a year later, LeVaughn strives to continue to do the right thing in spite of her own friends’ lack of support. The reader’s tones complement LeVaughn’s upbeat personality.
Martin Luther King, Jr., by Marshall Frady, read by the author, Books on Tape, 2002, 5 cassettes, 7.5 hours, 0-7366-8491-3. A journalist who reported on King’s career, the author reads this new biography that offers insights on our present state of race relations without obscuring the quirks that made King an imperfect human.
The Rag and Bone Shop, by Robert Cormier, read by Scott Shina, Recorded Books, 2002, 2 cassettes, 3 hours, 01-4025-1028-4. Brought in by local police for the sole purpose of obtaining a murder confession from a 12-year-old boy, a cynical interrogator intends to do just that—whether or not the boy is guilty. The boy’s uncertainty and the interrogator’s confidence are terrifyingly realized in this performance.
Sabriel, by Garth Nix, read by Tim Curry, Listening Library, 2002, 7 cassettes, 10 hours and 40 minutes, 0-8072-0563-X; and Lirael, by Garth Nix, read by Tim Curry, Listening Library, 2002, 9 cassettes, 14 hours and 44 minutes, 0-8072-0564-8. The Mage’s daughter follows her father into the nine gates of death, battling the living dead to protect her kingdom; in the second episode, another young woman fulfills her destiny, aided by the first Mage’s grandson. The narrator performs each segment of this epic with charismatic charm.
The Secret Armies: Spies, Counterspies, and Saboteurs in World War II, by Albert Marrin, read by Johnny Heller, Recorded Books, 2001, 4 cassettes, 5.5 hours, 0-7887-5511-0. The real story of counter-intelligence during World War II includes all the stuff of spy novels: espionage, double agents, and even duplicitous women. The energetic reading fits the agility these spies needed to get their jobs done and stay alive while doing so.
The Seeing Stone, by Kevin Crossley-Holland, read by Michael Maloney, Listening Library, 2001, 6 cassettes, 7 hours and 51 minutes, 0-8072-0546-X. When Arthur receives a bit of obsidian from his father’s friend Merlin, he discovers that he can see in it the story of King Arthur, whose life and adventures seem to parallel and foretell his own. The reader’s pace and the narrative’s framing device suit the Medieval setting.
Seek, by Paul Fleischman, dramatized by Ben Fred, David Minnick, Kari Wishingrad, Vonya Morris, Richard Goodman, Randi Merzon, Anne Galjour, and Clark Taylor, Listening Library, 2002, 2 cassettes, 2 hours and 42 minutes, 0-8072-0821-3. Rob grows up surrounded by the voices and auditory interests of his extended family, giving rise to memories that play in his mind like a radio show, a show his absent DJ father might host. The full cast performance includes the everyday sounds that are part of Rob’s richly heard world.
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, read by Scott Snively, Audio Bookshelf, 2002, 4 cassettes, 6 hours, 1-883332-49-4. From the vantage of adulthood, Gene recounts a boarding school friendship that ended in tragedy. This new narration gives an edginess to the modern classic.
A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park, read by Graeme Malcolm, Listening Library, 2002, 3 cassettes, 3 hours and 12 minutes, 0-8072-0702-0. Tree Ear, an orphan in 12th century Korea, must make a long and dangerous journey in order to secure an official position as apprentice to a master potter. The stately reading helps the listener move back in time to the era when celadon was a new invention.
Son of the Mob, by Gordon Korman, read by Max Casella, Listening Library, 2002, 3 cassettes, 4 hours and 36 minutes, 0-8072-0971-6. Vince wants no part of the “family business” but his attempts to distance himself from its shady dealings only bring him closer to direct involvement in organized crime and in the FBI’s efforts to expose his relatives as criminals. The reading gives texture and charm to this hilarious tale of trying to keep both criminals and the law at bay.
Spite Fences, by Trudy Krisher, read by Kate Forbes, Recorded Books, 2001, 6 cassettes, 8.5 hours, 0-7887-8971-6. 14-year-old Maggie, living in Georgia during the Civil Rights Era, receives a camera as a gift from a friend, through which she comes to see and collect evidence about the racism of her small town. The voices of old, young, black, white, kind, and cruel characters all ring true.
A Step from Heaven, by An Na, read by Jina Oh, Listening Library, 2002, 3 cassettes, 4 hours and 14 minutes, 0-8072-0722-5. Young Ju and her family learn that America is difficult to inhabit after they move from Korea to California. The voice of the narrator matures in both understanding and tone as she develops from childhood through high school to a confident young adulthood.
Time Stops for No Mouse: A Hermux Tantamoq Adventure, by Michael Hoeye, read by Campbell Scott, Listening Library, 2002, 4 cassettes, 5 hours and 30 minutes, 0-8072-0847-7. A watchmaker-mouse is drawn into a nefarious plot to steal a magic formula when a lovely aviatrix-mouse visits his shop and apparently is kidnapped subsequently. The straight reading perfectly complements the fantastic tale set in a universe and society so very like out own.
Troy, by Adèle Geras, read by Miriam Margolyes, Listening Library, 2002, 6 cassettes, 10 hours and 6 minutes, 0-8072-0599-0. Marpessa and Xanthe, young Trojan sisters, witness the classic event of the Greeks’ war to win back Helen. The fully voiced reading brings gods, soldiers, and ordinary Trojan residents to vivid life.
Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher, read by Brian Corrigan, Listening Library, 2002, 4 cassettes, 6 hours and 31 minutes, 0-8072-0709-8. TJ leads a band of high school misfits on a quest, against daunting odds, for lettermen jackets. The reader breathes life into this searing portrait of unusual friendships and lost opportunities.
The Witch in the Lake, by Anna Fienberg, read by Melissa Eccleston, Louis Braille Audio, 2001, 5 compact discs, 0-7320-2535-4. Leo discovers his wizard powers after he is drawn to the forbidden lake where he feels compelled to uncover the secrets hidden in its depths. Listeners are treated to a performance that ranges through a variety of fully voiced emotions.
Wolf on the Fold, by Judith Clarke, read by Dino Marnika, Bolinda Audio, 2001, 3 cassettes, 3 hours and 35 minutes, 1-74030-622-8. From a 14-year-old boy’s first day of looking for work during the Great Depression, through his grandchild’s carefree acceptance of everyone in a 21st century Mideast, these interconnected short stories explore family loyalties, neighborliness, and the ability youth have to cope with grave dangers. Each character is uniquely realized by the vocally agile reader.
Zazoo, by Richard Mosher, read by Joanna Wyatt, Listening Library, 2002, 5 cassettes, 8.5 hours, 0-8072-0840-X. Vietnam-born Zazoo and her adoptive grandfather live an uneventful life in their small French village—until a passerby begins to encourage the disclosure of secrets long kept hidden by all the villagers. This lush reading matches the story’s emotionally acute nuances.
Committee members include: Chair, Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley, CA; Jerene Battisti, Renton, WA; Kathleen Degyansky, Woodside, NY; Susan Hawk, Decatur, GA; Mary Hennessey, East Lansing, MI; Pam Spencer Holley, Virginia Beach, VA; E.M. Roublow, Los Angeles, CA; Jamie Lynn Watson, Baltimore, MD; and Carly Wiggins, Fort Wayne, IN.