2002 Audiobooks for Young Adults

The Media Selection and Usage Committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, announced its fourth 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.

Bad Boy : a Memoir, by Walter Dean Myers, read by Joe Morton, Harper Audio, 2001, 4 cassettes, 5 hours, 0-694-52535-9.
An author known for peopling his novels with complex characters tells his own story, including family dramas, his personal failings and victories in youth, and how he became acquainted with the works of many famous modern writers.

Borrowed Light, by Anna Fienberg, read by Rebecca Macauley, Bolinda Audio, 2000, 6 cassettes, 8 hours and 15 mins., 1-7403-141-2.
Callisto's parents are so caught up in their own concerns that the 16-year-old must provide emotionally for her little brother as well as for herself. But now she's pregnant and sure of only two things: no one seems to be available to help her cope and she isn't self-assured enough to trust her own resourcefulness.

Cut , by Patricia McCormick, read by Clea Lewis, Listening Library, 2001, 3 cassettes, 3 hours and 59 mins., 0-8072-0523-0.
Callie refuses to speak to anyone at the residential treatment center. Gradually, however, her confinement and interaction with both her therapist and the other girls help her to realize why she cuts herself.

Esperanza Rising , by Pam Munoz Ryan, read by Trini Alvarado, Listening Library, 2001, 3 cassettes, 4 hours and 42 mins., 0-8072-6207-2.
During her early teen years, Esperanza loses her father, the comforts of her ranch home, and then her country. She travels north from Mexico to California's Central Valley to work alongside her family's former servants in field camps rife with ethnic and labor unrest, and with fever.

Give a Boy a Gun , by Todd Strasser, read by various narrators, Recorded Books, 2001, 3 cassettes, 3.5 hours., 0-7887-9376-4.
Interwoven voices reveal the impact of a violent clash between two once-bullied and now heavily armed students and their high school. While this fictional account stands alone, the factual page footers of the book are sadly missed.

The Grey King , by Susan Cooper, read by Richard Mitchley, Listening Library, 2001, 4 cassettes, 5 hours and 41 mins., 0-8072-8877-2.
Sent to Wales to recuperate from a serious illness, Will makes new allies to help in his fight against the timeless and dangerous power of the Dark and of the Grey King.

Homeless Bird , by Gloria Whelan, read by Sarita Choudhury, Listening Library, 2001, 2 cassettes, 3 hours and 15 mins., 0-8072-8858-6.
Koly's unwanted arranged marriage when she was 13 ended in nearly immediate widowhood. Now she must use all her faith and courage to deal with life in a city of white clad women who all face life without the support of family.

Killing Aurora , by Helen Barnes, read by Suzi Dougherty, Bolinda Audio, 2000, 5 cassettes, 6 hours, 1-74030-228-1.
Aurora's anorexia seems to invite no more attention than the envy of most of her schoolmates at her tiny figure. Only Web, herself in a turmoil of acting out through pyrotechnics and graffiti, understands Aurora needs a real friend to encourage her to be strong.

The Land , by Mildred D. Taylor, read by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Listening Library, 2001, 7 cassettes, 10 hours and 56 mins., 0-8072-0619-9.
Paul-Edward's status as a slave woman's son, in spite of the considerations received from his white daddy, means he can never enjoy the acceptance his half brothers take for granted. Determined to make his own way in life, Paul-Edward leaves the plantation to make his mark on the land

The Last Book in the Universe , by Rodman Philbrick, read by Jeremy Davies, Listening Library, 2001, 3 cassettes, 4 hours and 25 mins., 0-8072-8843-8.
In the midst of a disintegrating world, young Spaz learns from the seasoned Ryter the valuable link between history and the future. Spaz respectfully preserves his mentor's thoughts as a new century arrives.

The Member of the Wedding , by Carson McCullers, performed by a full cast, LA Theatre Works, 2001, 2 cassettes, 1 hour and 32 mins., 1-58081-206-6.
Jena Malone and Ruby Dee, along with other talented actors, bring to life this modern classic theater piece about a lonely 12-year-old and her best friend, the family cook.

Miracle's Boys , by Jacqueline Woodson, read by Dule Hill, Listening Library, 2001, 2 cassettes, 2 hours and 27 mins, 0-8072-0525-7.
Through the voice and viewpoint of 13-year-old Lafayette, the story of three orphaned brothers living in Brooklyn describes the struggles, sacrifices, and love that shape and reshape family relationships.

Out of the Shadows , by Sue Hines, read by Caroline Lee, Bolinda Audio, 2001, 4 cassettes, 5 hours and 30 mins., 1-74030-362-8.
Ro and Jodie are hiding secrets from each other even as they work to become friends. Jodie worries that her new classmate will discover that she's a lesbian, while Ro has worked for years to keep everyone she doesn't trust from finding out that the woman who provides her with home and family is her dead mother's former lover.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room , by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry, Listening Library, 2001, 2 cassettes each, 3 hours and 17 mins. for "Book the First" and 3 hours and 11 mins. for "Book the Second," 0-8072-8847-0 and -8868-3.
The miserable lives of the poor Baudelaire children are chronicled with woeful tenor (a word which here means "tone," not sub-alto vocal range) by an accomplished character actor. Bonus audio material includes an interview with the author following "Book the First," and a sure-hit accordion tune on "The Reptile Room."

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World , by Jennifer Armstrong, read by Taylor Mali, Audio Bookshelf, 2000, 4 cassettes, 4 hours, 1-883332-39-7.
Snow blindness, boils, dehydration, and lethal ice were among the extreme discomforts and uncertainties faced and survived by the men of Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic expedition.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants , by Ann Brashares, read by Angela Goethals, Listening Library, 2001, 4 cassettes, 6 hours and 35 mins., 0-8072-0590-7.
Four girls, four body types, four stories of one summer, and one pair of pants. Both author and reader create a tale of such diverse and authentic characters that the magic of pants that would fit all with equal flattery becomes credible.

Stargirl , by Jerry Spinelli, read by John Ritter, Listening Library, 2001, 3 cassettes, 4 hours and 25 mins., 0-8072-0572-9.
With her pet rat, ukulele, and unusual name, Stargirl is unlike anyone else in her new high school. Leo is smitten-but does he have the courage to stand by her when all of their peers ostracize this unique classmate?

Strange Objects , by Gary Crew, read by Stig Wemyss, Bolinda Audio, 2000, 4 cassettes, 5 hours and 45 mins., 1-876584-82-3.
Steven Messenger's discovery of 17th century Dutch artifacts in 20th century Australia sets in motion tales of avarice, ethnic chauvinism, and love in two time periods. Both tales become the stuff of Steven's nightmares.

Stuck in Neutral , by Terry Trueman, read by Johnny Heller, Recorded Books, 2001, 2 cassettes, 2.5 hours, 1-4025-0710-0.
Afflicted with severe cerebral palsy and unrelenting seizures, 14-year-old Shawn cannot speak or display his insightful intelligence. Yet his voice, inside his head, provides a narrative of clarity, wit, and poignancy, as he struggles with the suspicion that his father plans to kill him.

Tangerine , by Edward Bloor, read by Ramon de Ocampo, Recorded Books, 2001, 8 cassettes, 10 hours, 1-4025-0778-X.
In spite of being nearly blinded when he was very young, Paul is the only one in the town of Tangerine, Florida, who is able to see what's really happening. A middle school soccer player himself, Paul becomes increasingly aware of his older brother's exploits on and off the football field.

Touching Spirit Bear , by Ben Mikaelsen, read by Lee Tergesen, Listening Library, 2001, 4 cassettes, 5 hours and 52 mins., 0-8072-0515-X.
Cole is banished to a remote Alaskan island as punishment for seriously injuring a classmate. Cole goes along with this Tlingit form of justice, figuring he'll escape, until a huge white bear attacks him, leaving him with a story no one is willing to believe.

Walden , by Henry David Thoreau, read by William Hope, NAXOS Audiobooks, 2001, 4 cassettes, 5 hours and 14 mins., 9-62634-732-5.
This spirited reading of the American classic brings to new life the sharp observations and perceptions of the Transcendentalist writer who saw society as becoming unnecessarily and dangerously commercial and technologically speeded up. Hearing Thoreau's words across 150 years offers contemporary listeners much to consider about expectations to which we hold ourselves and each other today.

When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune , by Lori Aurelia Williams, read by Heather Alicia Simms, Listening Library, 2001, 6 cassettes, 8 hours and 31 mins., 0-8072-8850-0.
Shayla's new friend Kambia seems to be hiding terrible secrets from both of them. Shayla works to uncover what's behind Kambia's fantastic stories even as she struggles to understand why her own mother and sister can't get along anymore.

Witch Child , by Celia Rees, read by Jennifer Ehle with Carole Shelley, Listening Library, 2001, 4 cassettes, 5 hours and 38 mins., 0-8072-0628-8.
In 1659, Mary Newbury's grandmother is hanged as a witch-and then the villagers' interest turns its focus on Mary herself. A mysterious woman arranges her passage to the New World, but it is only a matter of time when, once again and now in the New England wilderness, she stands accused.

The Committee members are: Jerene Battisti (Renton, WA); Leslie Dann (New York, NY); Kathleen Degyansky (Woodside, NY); Francisca Goldsmith (Berkeley, CA), Chair; Susan Hawk (Decatur, GA); Mary Hennessey (East Lansing, MI); Dale McNeill (Dallas, TX); E.M. Roublow (Los Angeles, CA); and Amy Spaulding (New York, NY).