2007 booklist editors choice media


Video & DVD

Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film. 2006. 4hr. PBS, DVD, $54.95 (0-7936-9288-1).

Acclaimed filmmaker Ric Burns traces Warhol’s path from sickly child to art-world superstar. Filled with vintage footage, photos, and commentary, this comprehensive program looks at the many sides of the complicated pop-art icon.

Been Rich All My Life. 2006. 81min. First Run Features, DVD, $24.95.

In this touching and entertaining tribute, five feisty dancers (now in their eighties and nineties) who performed in Harlem in the 1930s and still wow audiences with their fancy footwork, peruse old photos, reminisce about their early days, and dance before delighted audiences.

Following Sean. 2007. 87min. Docurama, DVD, $26.95 (0-7670-9014-4).

In this bittersweet, introspective documentary, a filmmaker returns to San Francisco to reconnect with Sean, the precociously endearing subject of a 1969 documentary. Now 31 and a college-educated electrician, the former mop-headed, barefoot kid, who smoked pot at age 4, remains deeply expressive and articulate.

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. 2007. 78min. HBO, DVD, $24.98 (0-7831-5163-2).

This explosive documentary, chronicling ugly events in U.S. military history, tells the story behind the shocking photographs depicting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners held at Abu Ghraib at the Baghdad Correctional Facility.

In the Tall Grass. 2006. 57min. Choices, DVD, $99.95 (1-933724-08-0).

This informative film sheds light on the 1994 massacre of more than 800,000 Rwandans as viewers follow grass-roots village court proceedings of a genocide survivor who openly accuses a neighbor of killing her husband and children.

John James Audubon. 2007. 54min. Bullfrog, VHS, $250 (1-59458-660-8); DVD, $250 (1-59458-661-6).

A visually stunning and totally engrossing film captures the life of artist and naturalist John James Audubon, emphasizing his creative genius and lasting legacy as the creator of The Birds of America, a collection of life-size bird prints.

John, Paul, George & Ben. 2007. 9min. Weston Woods, DVD, $59.95 (0-439-02752-7). K–Gr. 3.

This animated adaptation of Lane Smith’s wacky book (2006) about Founding Fathers John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson is pure fun. James Earl Jones’ dignified narration is a counterpoint to the tomfoolery.

Knuffle Bunny. 2006. 10min. Weston Woods, DVD, $59.95. PreS–Gr. 1.

In this 2007 Carnegie Award–winning adaptation of Mo Willems’ Caldecott Honor Book, jazzy background music, sepia-tone photographs, animation, and lively narration by the author and his daughter put a sophisticated stamp on the warm family story.

Never Been Done: The Jon Comer Story. 2007. 55min. Powers Philms, DVD, $14.95. Gr. 9–12.
The life of professional skateboarder Jon Comer is presented in this entertaining and inspiring documentary that tracks the life of the amazing skateboarder whose foot was amputated following a childhood accident.

Off to War: From Rural Arkansas to Iraq. 2006. 7.5hr. DCTV, DVD, $49.95.

Alternating between the families at home and the soldiers in Iraq, this insightful program follows nine Arkansas National Guardsmen as they adjust to an 18-month tour of duty and speak frankly about the physical danger, emotional toll, and damage to relationships.

On the Muscle: Portrait of a Thoroughbred Racing Stable. 2007. 3hr. Victory, DVD, $30.

A fascinating three-part documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at a California Thoroughbred racing stable and premier trainer Richard Mandella and his staff as they prepare and train the horses for the racing circuit.

The Supreme Court. 2007. 4hr. Ambrose, DVD, $79.99 (1-58281-314-0).

Narrated by David Strathairn, this four-part set chronicles the history, impact, and drama of the U.S. Supreme Court. A rich kaleidoscope of visuals, reenactments, and majestic background music enhances the coverage.

Treasure in My Garden. 2007. 50min. Ryko, DVD, $16.95 (9782923163147). PreS–K.

Imaginative lyrics, delightful melodies, and wonderful production values imbue these 13 short, animated music videos with fantastic child appeal.

Vietnam Nurses with Dana Delany. 2006. 45min. Creative Street, DVD, $21.95 (1-882079-25-6).

This powerful documentary, disturbing in its vividness, is a deeply moving testament to the life-altering physical and emotional stresses experienced by eight American women who served as U.S. Army nurses in Vietnam more than 30 years ago.

The War. 2007. 15hr. PBS, DVD, $129.99 (1-4157-2749-X).

Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, this riveting series examines World War II from the perspective of military personnel and those on the home front. Interviews and excerpted readings seamlessly intertwine with vintage footage, news clips, maps, and atmospheric period songs and original compositions to illuminate the sacrifices and heroics of those who served. (Top of the List winner—Video & DVD.)

Audio for Adults

The Dead Fathers Club. By Matt Haig. Read by Andrew Dennis. 2007. 7hr. HighBridge, CD, $32.95 (9781598870879).

The ghost of 11-year-old Philip Bobel’s father appears, telling his son to exact revenge on Uncle Allen, who supposedly is responsible for the death of Philip’s father. Twelve-year-old British narrator Dennis’ superlative performance stands out in this suspenseful and unexpectedly amusing novel.

The Good Earth. By Pearl S. Buck. Read by Anthony Heald. 2007. 10.5hr. Blackstone, CS, $65.95 (9781433204050); CD, $81 (9781433204067).

Set in China during the early 1900s, this Pulitzer Prize–winning novel traces the rising and falling fates of industrious farmer Wang Lung and his family. Heald’s subtle changes in tone and inflection to indicate wizened old men and others add authenticity to this timeless story.

The Iliad. By Homer. Read by Stanley Lombardo. 2007. 12hr. Parmenides, CD, $42 (1-930972-08-3).

In a breathtaking reading, translator Lombardo retains the majesty and well-loved images of this classic poem that tells of the Greeks battling the Trojans. An abridged version is also available.

Ines of My Soul. By Isabel Allende. Read by Blair Brown. 2006. 13hr. Books on Tape, CS, $80 (9781415936207); CD, $100 (9781415936023).

Flavored by husky tones and a softly lilting Spanish accent, Brown’s reading captures Allende’s poetic language and cadence. An evocative, haunting, and thoughtful look into another era through the eyes of an unforgettable woman.

Mistress of the Art of Death. By Ariana Franklin. Read by Rosalyn Landor. 2007. 13hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9781415936986).

The deaths of four children and an accusation of murder against Jewish residents bring Adelia, her Muslim bodyguard, and a Jewish investigator to Cambridge to analyze the corpses. Landor does an exceptional job representing varied personalities, classes, and ages.

Natural Born Charmer. By Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Read by Anna Fields. 2007. 12hr. Books on Tape, CD, $120 (9781415937471).

Phillips’ smart and sexy romantic comedy contains a wide range of quirky characters, including a disillusioned football player and a jill-of-many-trades who has just been dumped by her boyfriend. In her rich, husky voice, Fields plays the keen wit and rich banter to the hilt.

One Good Turn. By Kate Atkinson. Read by Steven Crossley. 2006. 14hr. BBC/Sound Library, CS, $89.95 (0-7927-4536-1); CD, $110.95 (0-7927-4512-4).

British actor Crossley brings superior skill and diversity to his reading of this thriller, in which an automobile accident in Scotland sets off a road-rage incident, drawing four characters into the fray.

Talking Jazz: An Oral History. By Ben Sidran. 2007. 24hr. CD Baby, CD, $249.

A must for jazz lovers, this series features intimate conversations with 60 legendary jazz musicians, including Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, and Betty Carter, among others.

The Tin Roof Blowdown. By James Lee Burke. Read by Will Patton. 2007. 13hr. Recorded Books, CS, $98.75 (9781428155831); CD, $123.75 (9781428155855).

In the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux investigates two murders and a rape case. In his seductive reading, Patton evokes the tale’s passion and sorrow, never missing a beat in his smooth-as-silk depiction of the characters’ speech patterns and dialects, all the while authentically reflecting the author’s obvious anger and sadness following the aftermath of Katrina along with his hopefulness that unique and beautiful New Orleans can be salvaged. (Top of the List winner—Audio.)

Up in Honey’s Room. By Elmore Leonard. Read by Arliss Howard. 2007. 7.5hr. Recorded Books, CS, $72.75 (9781428152946); CD, $102.75 (9781428152960).

When U.S. Marshal Carl Webster meets Honey, sparks, blood, and fun fly in all directions. Howard’s on-target reading of southerners, Nazi conspirators, and others perfectly complements the wit and underlying moral ambiguity in Leonard’s hot novel.

Audio for Youth

Airborn. By Kenneth Oppel. Read by David Kelly. 2006. 10hr. Full Cast, CD, $57 (9781933322544). Gr. 6–8.

Numerous talented performers assist David Kelly in re-creating this remarkable fantasy adventure featuring 15-year-old Matt, a cabin boy on a gigantic luxury airship that is attacked and sabotaged by pirates.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. By M. T. Anderson. Read by Peter Francis James. 2007. 8hr. Listening Library, CD, $55 (9780739348468). Gr. 9–12.

In this 2007 Printz Honor Book set in the eighteenth century, Octavian flees from a household of scientists and philosophers to join the Sons of Liberty, where he dares to dream about his release from slavery. James’ deeply resonant tones and thoughtful speech patterns complement this challenging novel.

Before I Die. By Jenny Downham. Read by Charlotte Parry. 2007. 7hr. Listening Library, CD, $50 (9780739362907). Gr. 9–12.

British teenager Tessa Scott fulfills her list of 10 things she wants to do before she dies in this stunning debut novel, impeccably read by British narrator Parry with just the right dose of humor and candor.

The Book Thief. By Markus Zusak. Read by Allan Corduner. 2006. 14hr. Listening Library, CD, $75 (0-7393-3800-5). Gr. 10–12.

Death, the storyteller of this powerful novel, relates events in the life of Liesel, a young foster child who lives in a town in Nazi Germany. Through British actor Corduner’s moving interpretation, the horrors and impact of Hitler are readily discerned through the eyes of resolute Liesel.

Dream: Lullabies and Lovesongs. 2007. 47min. Lyric Partners, CD, $15. PreS–Gr. 3.

Singer Mae Robertson mixes traditional lullabies and other tunes with reimagined renditions of contemporary songs. Spare harmony vocals add texture but never obscure the clarity of Robertson’s lovely singing voice and exquisite phrasing.

Gift of the Gab. By Morris Gleitzman. Read by Mary-Anne Fahey. 2007. 3hr. Bolinda, CD, $28 (9781740938419). Gr. 5–8.

Cheeky Australian Rowena Betts is having a tough time dealing with new information about her mother’s death. Fahey brings emotion to her reading, offering listeners a real feel for Australian speech patterns, slang, and setting in this quirky novel.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. By J. K. Rowling. Read by Jim Dale. 2007. 21hr. Listening Library, CS, $90 (9780739360408); CD, $90 (9780739360415). Gr. 6–12.

In this rousing conclusion to the Harry Potter series, Dale’s virtuoso performance gives each character an unforgettable identity and personality. With great skill and feeling, Dale both honors and enhances Rowling’s beloved characters.

Keturah and Lord Death. By Martine Leavitt. Read by Alyssa Bresnahan. 2007. 6.5hr. Recorded Books, CS, $56.75 (9781428146440); CD, $66.75 (9781428146490). Gr. 8–12.

Beautiful Keturah staves off Lord Death by bargaining for her life in this deeply romantic tale. Bresnahan’s reading enriches the complex narrative and the intimate nature of the story.

My Green Kite. 2007. 40min. Rounder Records, CD, $14.98. PreS–Gr. 2.

Performer and songwriter Peter Himmelman’s album is marked by polished singing, flashy back-up vocals, and a nice variety of instruments (from oboes to French horns), resulting in a family-friendly collection of songs.

Peter and the Wolf. 2007. 68min. Magic Maestro Music, CD, $16.98 (9781932684124). Gr. 3–6.

This enlightening CD introduces and deconstructs composer Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, as narrator Yadu describes the characters, conductor Stephen Simon explains the music, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra plays “the greatest orchestral work ever written for children.”

The Rules of Survival. By Nancy Werlin. Read by Daniel Passer. 2007. 8.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $38 (9780739351154). Gr. 7–10.

The “rules of survival” are employed by three siblings to help them cope with the erratic, abusive behavior of their mercurial, cocaine-sniffing mother. Passer’s impassioned reading enhances this unforgettable tale of child abuse.

Treasure Island. By Robert Louis Stevenson. Read by Alfred Molina. 2007. 7hr. Listening Library, CD, $55 (9780739350836). Gr. 5–9.

Reading in an authentic British accent and commanding tones, Molina flawlessly portrays quintessential pirate Long John Silver, youthful Jim Hawkins, and a range of supporting characters in this rip-roaring adventure.

Awards Won

Title Year
Booklist Editors' Choice: Media 2007 - Selection(s)