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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Historical Fiction Audiobooks for Young Listeners
Many children think they dislike stories set in the “olden days,” even though the genre includes some exceptional writing. Introducing historical fiction to youngsters through audiobooks is a wonderful way to sidestep reader reluctance.
Bull Run. By Paul Fleischman. Various readers. Audio Bookshelf. 1999. 2hr. unabr. 2 cassettes, $17.95 (1-883332-37-0). 2 CDs, $24.95 (1-883332-58-3). 800-234-1713.Fleischman’s unique novel about the Battle of Bull Run weaves together stories of 16 individuals into a rough cloth. Various narrators bring individuality to the ordinary citizens and soldiers caught up in the carnage.
The Gate in the Wall. By Ellen Howard. Read by Jenny Sterlin. Recorded Books. 1999. 4.5hr. unabr. 3 cassettes, $24.95 (0-7887-3891-7). 800-638-1304.When Emma opens a gate, she literally steps out of the walled world of a British textile mill into a free-floating society of canal folk. Sterlin’s portrayal of the hungry, frightened waif who is transformed into a spirited, loving child adds emotional depth.
The Land. By Mildred Taylor. Read by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Listening Library. 2001. 11hr. unabr. 7 cassettes, $50 (0-8072-0619-9). 800-324-8367.Santiago-Hudson’s expressive reading brings the painful maturation of the biracial protagonist into sharp focus. With an even hand, narration delineates the black characters and also crafts believable white characters, from a taciturn shopkeeper to a bigoted drunk.
Matilda Bone. By Karen Cushman. Read by Janet McTeer. Listening Library. 2000. 4hr. unabr. 3 cassettes, $30 (0-8072-8737-7).McTeer pays equal homage to rustic comedy and religious piety in her impressive reading of this medieval tale. In delicately relayed gradations, a teenage orphan grows wiser and stronger as her view of the world broadens.
Mr. Revere and I. By Robert Lawson. Read by Davina Porter. Recorded Books. 1995. 3.5hr. unabr. 3 cassettes, $27 (0-7887-0212-2).Porter is up to the challenge of creating a voice for a horse! From haughty to humble, the faithful mare carries Paul Revere on his cross-country gallop into the pages of history.
Nory Ryan’s Song. By Patricia Riley Giff. Read by Susan Lynch. Listening Library. 2000. 3.5hr. unabr. 3 cassettes, $30 (0-8072-8728-8). The Irish potato famine of 1845 blighted the lives of an entire generation—a tragedy of monumental proportions. Lynch’s lilting accent gives equal emphasis to the details of daily life and the acts of heroic courage that kept the inhabitants of Maidin Bay alive from one day to the next.
The Shining Company. By Rosemary Sutcliff. Read by Ron Keith. Recorded Books. 1990. 10hr. unabr. 7 cassettes, $60 (0-7887-0133-9).Set in seventh-century Great Britain, this tale follows three young comrades into battle against the Saxons. Keith’s resonant, unhurried voice rises and falls in perfect accord with the text.
A Single Shard. By Linda Sue Park. Read by Graeme Malcolm. Listening Library. 2002. 4hr. unabr. 3 cassettes, $30 (0-8072-0702-0). This 2002 Newbery winner offers a vivid portrait of twelfth-century Korea. Malcolm’s narration not only eliminates the barrier presented by unfamiliar words and names but also captures the suspenseful curve of the plot as he deftly uses pace and inflection to mirror the restrained formality of the stratified culture in which an orphan yearns to rise above his fate.
Stowaway. By Karen Hesse. Read by David Cale. Listening Library. 2000. 8hr. unabr. 6 cassettes, $40 (0-8072-8759-8).Captain James Cook’s eighteenth-century voyage to search for the “lost continent” is presented in the form of a fictional diary kept by an 11-year-old stowaway. Cale’s careful pacing, a calculated blend of onboard tedium and sudden terror, creates a perfect atmosphere.
The Wreckers. By Iain Lawrence. Read by Ron Keith. Recorded Books. 2000. 2hr. unabr. 4cassettes, $37 (0-7887-4008-3). 5 CDs, $48 (0-7887-4654-5).In the eighteenth century, the English coast was a brutal battleground inhabited by greedy individuals who lured doomed cargo ships to the rocky shoreline. Keith’s gripping narration captures teenager John’s naiveté and eventual horror, as well as the rolling pace of the plot.
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