2004 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adult Annotated List

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.

 

Abhorsen, by Garth Nix, narrated by Tim Curry, Listening Library, 2003, 9 cassettes, 11 hours, 0-8072-0560-5.

Tim Curry's narration of Abhorsen, the concluding volume of The Sabriel Trilogy, rings with the challenge of good vs. evil as Lirael confronts the Necromancer in a battle that will either save or destroy the Old Kingdom.

 

Alice, I Think, by Susan Juby,   narrated by Angela Goethals, Recorded Books, 2003, 5 cassettes,   6.5   hours 1-4025- 6446-5.

Fifteen year old Alice is about to leave her comfortable existence as a home-based learner to enter public high school.   Told through hilarious journal entries, this is the story of a bright, sarcastic misfit   preparing to enter life with her peers.  

 

Alt Ed, by Catherine Atkins,    read by Johanna Parker,   Recorded Books   2003,   4 cassettes, 5 hours, 1-4025-5904-6.  

After participating in an act of vandalism, Susan must join an experimental counseling group to avoid expulsion from high school.   Neglected at home and teased at school, Susan slowly begins to trust her Alt Ed classmates and find self-acceptance.

 

The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud, read by Simon Jones, Listening Library, 2003, 8 cassettes, 13.5 hours, 0-8072-1954-1.

Volume I in the The Bartimaeus Trilogy. In a world where magicians aren't the good guys, a young apprentice conjures the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand.   Read with skill   and panache, the narrator takes the listener on a thrilling adventure of magic and intrigue.   

 

At the Crossing Places, by Kevin Crossley-Holland, read by   Michael Maloney, Listening Library, 2002, 6 cassettes,   9 hours 6 minutes, 0-8072-0540-0.  

Arthur prepares to become a squire and take part in the Crusades, in this well-read sequel to  The Seeing Stone.    

 

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie, read by B.D. Wong, Books on Tape, 2002, 3 cassettes, 4 hours 30 minutes, 0-7366-8847-1.   

Two Chinese young men, former university students, experience re-education, love and life in a remote village during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.   

 

Boys of Blood and Bone, by David Metzenthen, read by Francis Greenslade, Louis Braille Audio, 2003, 8 cassettes    9 and ¾ hours, 0-7320-2750-0.

Two stories, one set in modern Australia, and one in France with the ANZAC troops of World War I, are intertwined.    The connection comes between one soldier who left a girl pregnant in Australia, and his granddaughter, who loses her boyfriend in a car accident.    Both stories, aimed at older listeners, address moral issues of loyalty and loss.  

 

Breadwinner    by Deborah Ellis, read by Rita Wolf, Listening Library, 2002, 2 cassettes 3 hours, 0-8072-0974-0.

In a Taliban-ruled area, where females are considered second-class,   Parvana assumes the role and dress of a male—enabling her to read letters in the marketplace and provide for her family. Rita Wolf captures the voice of an Afghan girl.   

 

Canning Season, by Polly Horvath, narrated by Julie Dretzin, Recorded Books, 2003, 4 cassettes, 6 hours, 1-4025-5894-5.

Tiring of responsibility for her daughter, Ratchet's mother ships her off to spend the summer in Maine with two eccentric second cousins, Tilly and Penpen. The oddities of Ratchet's new life are made even funnier by Julie Dretzin's lively reading of improbabilities.   

 

The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, read by Jonathan Davis, Recorded Books, 2003, 8 cassettes, 10.75 hours, 1-4025-2199-5.  

The classic story of an unlikely friendship between two Jewish boys in Brooklyn in the 1940s.   Despite their differences in religious upbringing (Reuven is Modern Orthodox while Danny’s family is Hasidic), the two form a deep and lasting bond.

 

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, read by Jim Dale, Listening Library, 2003, 2 cassettes, 3 hours, 1-40008605-1.  

The multi-talented Jim Dale reads this timeless tale of the true meaning of Christmas.   

 

Dragon’s Kin, by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey, read by Dick Hill, Brilliance, 2003, 7 discs, 8 hours, 1-59355-481-8.   

On the Planet of Pern, only dragons can protect the land from the burning thread falling from the skies.   Then a discovery changes life in Pern’s dragonless holder communities.

 

Dunk, by David Lubar, read by Matt Golden and the Full Cast Family, Full Cast Audio, 2002, 4 cassettes, 6 hours, 1-932076-08-5.     

Chad, a Jersey shore local, takes a summer job as a dunk tank "bozo", but his summer isn't as light and fun as he had planned. The talents of the Full Cast ensemble bring alive this story dealing with the ups and downs of life.   

 

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, read by Gerard Doyle, Listening Library, 2003, 10 cassettes, 16 hours 23 minutes, 0-8072-1963-0.  

Eragon finds a mysterious stone that turns out to be a dragon's egg, and he and his dragon encounter much good and evil in this exciting fantasy.    

 

Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going, read by Matthew Lillard, Listening Library, 2003, 4 cassettes, 5 hours 43 minutes, 0-8072-1694-1.    

Seventeen-year-old Troy, overweight and depressed, is surprised when he is befriended by an unusual classmate who wants Troy to be the drummer in his rock band.   

 

Feed, by M.T. Anderson, read by David Baron Baker, Listening Library, 2003, 3 cassettes   5 hrs 1 minute, 0-8072-1653-4.     

Violet helps Titus become aware of the dangers of their society, where people have implants in their heads that "feed" them a constant barrage of advertising, music, and instant messaging. The story is enhanced by this audio production’s simulation of the “feeds."

 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K.   Rowling, read by Jim Dale, Listening Library, 2003, 23 discs, 26.5 hours,   0807220299.   

Harry enters adolescence in his fifth year at Hogwarts.    Jim Dale’s familiar and excellent narration of this series is like eating comfort food—it all goes down so well.

 

Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos, read by the author, Listening Library, 2002, 3 cassettes, 4 hours, 20 minutes, 0-8072-1645-3.

You probably wouldn't believe that this noted children's/young adult author spent time in jail for his part in a drug smuggling operation. Luckily, Jack Gantos narrates his autobiography so that you know it's true; besides, only Jack could make prison life seem funny.   

 

Horse Thief, by Robert Newton Peck, read by Tom Stechschulte, Recorded Books, 2002, 4 cassettes. 5:45 hours,   ISBN 1-4025-2270-3.   

Tullis Yoder becomes a man in Depression-era Florida. Stechshulte reads a full cast of colorful characters in a host of humorous and pathos-laden voices.   

 

Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke, read by Lynn Redgrave, Listening Library, 2003, 10 cassettes, 13.5 hours, 0-8072-1951-7.   

Meggie discovers the power of stories and of the human voice, when characters from read-aloud stories come to life—storybook characters that are both good and nightmarishly evil.   Lynn Redgrave’s reading is so powerful that she almost brings to life the characters in this thrilling fantasy.

 

Lyra’s Oxford, by Philip Pullman, read by the author and a full cast, Listening Library, 2003, 1 cassette, 48 minutes, 0-8072-1997-5.  

Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, set out on a perilous journey to uncover the truth behind a witch’s illness.   The author and the full cast ensemble’s reading of this fantasy underscore this lyrical tale of revenge and loyalty.

 

Maggie’s Door, by Patricia Reilly Giff, read by Fionnula Flanagan, Listening Library, 2003, 2 cassettes    3.5 hours.   0-8072-1798-0.   

Set during the Great Potato Famine, friends Nory and Sean in separate but parallel journeys to the land of promise, America, experience the heart-ache and hardships of being separated from their families, friends and Ireland.   The narrator delivers a powerful reading of a time of tragedy and triumph.

 

Milkweed, by Jerry Spinelli, narrated by Ron Rifkin, Listening Library, 2003, 3 cassettes, 5 hours 5 minutes, 0-8072-1859-6.

A nameless, uneducated, uncultured Gypsy orphan survives life in the Warsaw ghetto due partly to this naiveté and partly to his quickness. The varying emotions, from the boy's desire to be a Nazi, his belief in angels, and concern for his friend Janina, are smoothly rendered by Ron Rifkin who masterfully emulates a wide range of young street urchins.  

 

My   Heartbeat, by Garrett Freymann-Weyr, narrated by Christy Carlson Romano, Listening Library, 2002, 3 cassettes, 3 hours 15 minutes, 0-8072-1243-1.

For the first time in Ellen's life, she looks differently at her brother Link and his best friend James. “Are they a couple?” an upperclassman recently asked. Christy Carlson Romano captures Ellen's heartbeat, that mystical passion, as she clearly and distinctly narrates this story of a young girl struggling to understand changing relationships.      

 

A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly, read by Hope Davis, Listening Library, 2003, 6 cassettes, 9 hours 2 minutes, 0-8072-0896-5.

In 1906, the drowned body of a young woman is found near the upstate New York hotel where Mattie works, in this compelling tale that is an examination of poverty, racism and women's rights.    

 

A Room of My Own, by Donald Davis, told by Donald Davis, August House, 2002, 1 cd 1 hour.   0-8748-3689-1.   

Famed storyteller Davis tells two stories from his own life, highlighting his relationship with his younger brother.   

 

Shattering Glass, by Gail Giles, read by Scott Brick, Listening Library, 2003, 4 cassettes 5 hours 34 minutes.   0-8072-1640-2.  

A powerful tale of high school rivalries and violence.    

 

Song of the Wanderer, by Bruce Coville, read by Bruce Coville and a full cast, Full Cast Audio, 2002, 4 cassettes, n.t., 0-9717540-1-2.  

In an enchanted land inhabited by unicorns, Cara sets out on a perilous journey to rescue her grandmother.   Hauntingly narrated by a full cast ensemble.

 

Stoner and Spaz, by Ron Koertge, read by Josh Hamilton, Listening Library, 2003, 2 hours 56 minutes, 2 cassettes, 0-8072-1246-6.   

When Colleen and Ben meet at the Rialto Theater, sparks fly.    Never mind that he is a preppie loner who considers himself a spaz, due to his cerebral palsy, and she is a punk rock girl with a drug problem.    The two become friends with Colleen encouraging Ben to act on his dreams of directing a movie. When Ben dares Colleen to give up drugs, their friendship takes a new turn.

 

Tadpole, by Ruth White, read by Kate Forbes, Recorded Books, 2003, 3 cassettes, 4 hours, 1-4025-6256-x.     

Tadpole’s usual upbeat zaniness is tempered by some solemness, during his visit with cousins, as he plans an escape from an abusive uncle.    Kate Forbes’s warm tones capture the spirit of 1955 Kentucky.

 

Taggerung, by Brian Jacques, read by the author, Recorded Books, 2003, 9 cassettes, 12.75 hours, 1-4025-3595-3.     

Another exciting tale from Redwall, complete with a complete cast of speaking, singing rodents.

 

 

The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke, narrated by Simon Jones, Listening Library, 2002, 5 cassettes, 8 hours, 30 minutes, 0-8072-0977-5.

Fleeing their uncaring guardians, brothers Bo and Prosper reach Venice where they become part of a group of young thieves headed by the mysterious, masked Thief Lord. Narrator Simon Jones is as wily as the young thieves as he slips effortlessly from voice to voice and gender to gender in a stirring account of a magical adventure.      

 

Wish List, by Eoin Colfer, read by James Wilby, Listening Library, 2003, 4 cassettes, 5 hours 46 minutes, 0-8072-1881-2.     

Meg’s spirit returns to earth to atone for her sins and help an old man live out his final wishes.

Wilby delivers a wide range of voices at breakneck speed in this wild tale of the afterlife.

 

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, by Michael Dorris, read by Barbara Rosenblat, Audio Bookshelf, 2003, 8 cassettes, 14.75 hours, 1-8833-3290-7.  

Fifteen-year-old Rayona, daughter of a Native-American mother and an absent African-American father, determines her own realm of survival, despite her mother’s myriad problems and her mysterious grandmother.    Barbara Rosenblatt captures the humanity and dignity of all three women.