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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Booklist Editors' Choice
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. By Benjamin Alire Saenz. Read by Lin-Manuel Miranda. 2013. 7.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $123.75 (9781470365127). Gr. 9–12.
Miranda’s honest and direct delivery highlights this novel’s sparse prose and measured pace as well as the provocative themes involving sexuality, coming-of-age, and finding one’s place. His authentic and sympathetic portrayals of the teen protagonists create memorable characters in an unlikely, life-changing relationship.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. By Holly Black. Read by Christine Lakin. 2013. 12hr. Hachette, CD, $25 (9781478924692). Gr. 9–12.
In this modern-day vampire tale, Lakin portrays a diverse cast and excels in voicing the growing fear of teen Tana, who leads the fight against the vampires, and the alternately evil and seductive tones of the vampires themselves. Her sterling narration enhances this enthralling novel that is at once elegant and eerie, creepy and exhilarating. (Top of the List Winner—Youth Audio.)
The Freedom Maze. By Delia Sherman. Read by Robin Miles. 2012. 8.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $55 (9780449014639). Gr. 7–10.
In authentic and historic Louisiana dialects and speech patterns, Miles offers a mellifluous reading of this engrossing time-travel story about a bored young girl transported back 100 years earlier.
I’m with Stupid. By Geoff Herbach. Read by Nick Podehl. 2013. 7.5hr. Brilliance, CD, $49.97 (9781480533226). Gr. 7–10.
This engaging story of the life and times of high-school-football phenom Felton Reinstein is the perfect vehicle for Podehl’s vocal talents. Whether voicing the strung-tight mom, the dead-behind-the-eyes players and coaches recruiting Felton, or Felton’s own less-than-articulate conversations, Podehl creates a great listen for fans of intelligent, realistic sports novels with heart.
It’s Not Fair to Me. 2013. 35min. Round River, CD, $12 (9781878126580). K–Gr. 3.
From the honky-tonk opening title tune to the hand-clapping “My Eraser,” artist, creator, and performer Bill Harley and friend Keith Munslow ratchet up the goof factor in this upbeat, hilarious collection of 10 original kidcentric songs. An infectious, fun-packed performance of imaginative, inventive music.
Matilda. By Roald Dahl. Read by Kate Winslet. 2013. 5hr. Penguin Audio, CD, $29.95 (9781611761849). Gr. 3–5.
In her virtuoso narration of Dahl’s classic story, Winslet enthusiastically throws herself into every character, capturing Matilda’s confidence, Miss Honey’s sweetness, and Miss Trunchbull’s brutality. Her obvious delight in the story and characters makes this a memorable listening experience to savor.
Permanent Record. By Leslie Stella. Read by Nick Podehl. 2013. 8hr. Brilliance, CD, $69.97 (9781469282466). Gr. 8–11.
Podehl’s reading of this dark and emotionally complex novel is convincing and flawless. Realistically voicing the monologues of the troubled Iranian American teen who is scrutinized and ridiculed because of his ethnicity, Podehl artfully reveals the depths of the teen’s despair. Listeners will relish the escalating moments of tension, right up to the dramatic conclusion.
Scowler. By Daniel Kraus. Read by Kirby Heyborne. 2013. 11.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $45 (9780385368377). Gr. 9–12.
Heyborne masterfully reads Kraus’ latest, set in Iowa in 1981 and featuring a depraved father and his family. An expert at expressing emotions and reflecting textual clues, Heyborne creates a powerful performance of this disturbing and unsettling story.
The Silence of Murder. By Dandi Daley Mackall. Read by Emily Rankin. 2012. 9hr. Listening Library, CD, $50 (9780385361491). Gr. 8–12.
This captivating, tension-filled mystery centers on autistic teen Jeremy Long, on trial for killing a beloved baseball coach. Rankin’s reading believably captures the range of characters, focusing on Hope’s emotional struggle, fear, and love for her brother as she struggles to solve the case.
Splendors and Glooms. By Laura Amy Schlitz. Read by Davina Porter. 2012. 12hr. Recorded Books, CD, $108.75 (9781449835729). Gr. 4–8.
In this atmospheric Victorian blend of suspense, gritty realism, magic, and historical fiction, Porter skillfully depicts the large Dickensian cast and projects a blend of childlike whimsy, difficult grief, menace, fear, and wonder. An impeccable reading of an intriguing and imaginative tale.
We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart. By Walter Dean Myers. Read by Macleod Andrews and others. 2012. 34min. Live Oak, CD, $29.95 (9781430111122). Gr. 4–8.
A terrific ensemble cast of a dozen narrators read Myers’ poems, a tribute to America and its people. All deliveries of these inspirational poems are crisp, clear, and filled with heartfelt emotion. Stirring music and sound effects heighten the realism of this poignant and powerful production.
Will Sparrow’s Road. By Karen Cushman. Read by Katherine Kellgren. 2012. 5hr. Listening Library, CD, $30 (9780449014707). Gr. 5–7.
Kellgren performs vocal magic on a wide cast of Elizabethan characters in this tale of a traveling troupe of misfit members. She reveals the personality of each player with changes in inflections, accents, and pacing. Proof of her skill is her lyrical singing of the Elizabethan folk songs in a variety of character voices.
Zombie Baseball Beatdown. By Paolo Bacigalupi. Read by Sunil Malhotra. 2013. 6hr. Listening Library, CD, $35 (9780804166782). Gr. 4–7.
Malhotra comfortably manages this bizarre but engaging novel, which morphs from a realistic story of bullying and the treatment of immigrants to a detective tale with zombies. Malhotra brings zest to the action scenes that mix queasy humor with satiric horror, intensifying the impact of the tale.
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