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Find more Notable Children's Recordings
African Playground. Putumayo. 41min. CD, $15.98. 888-788-8629.
As bright and varied as the countries from which they come, 13 songs exalt the power of imagination with dancing rhythms and welcoming voices. Abundant liner notes, photographs, and a glossary of terms make this package as informative as it is joyous.
Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart. Live Oak. 28min. CS and hardcover, $16.95. CD and hardcover, $18.95. 800-788-1121.
With separate narrators for sisters Amber and Essie, and their mother, this poignant recording perfectly complements Vera B. Williams’ touching story, simply told in pictures and poems.
The Carnivorous Carnival. Harper. 5hr. CD, $25.95. 800-242-7737.
Tim Curry was born to read Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books. His over-the-top narration wrings every ounce of entertainment from the ninth, satirically gothic installment.
Charlie Bone and the Time Twister. Listening Library. 6.5hr. CS, $32. 800-541-5525.
When Henry Yewbeam, Charlie’s long-lost relative, “twists in” from the past (1916), he quickly finds himself enveloped in the magical intrigue of Bloor’s Academy. Simon Russell Beale adds to the magic as he spins the second saga of the mystery and fantasy that surround Charlie Bone.
A Corner of the Universe. Listening Library, 4.5hr. CS, $30. CD, $30.
Hattie Owen’s world is turned upside-down by the unexpected arrival of Uncle Adam, who up to now has lived in a facility for people with what Hattie’s mother whisperingly refers to as “mental problems.” Judith Ivey demonstrates an amazing vocal range, distinguishing each character with poignancy and dignity.
Dreamland: World Lullabies & Soothing Songs. Putumayo. 37min. CD, $15.98.
This collection of traditional lullabies from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America will soothe souls young and old. Bell-toned vocals and mellifluous instrumentals join in a concert of soporific serenity.
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa. Weston Woods. 20min. CS and hardcover, $24.95. CD and hardcover, $29.95. 800-243-5020.
Carefully selected vintage recordings, sound tracks, and Billy Dee Williams’ sensuous voice are artfully layered to produce a time slip to the 1930s. Prepare to be transported by the pulse and rhythms of Harlem and of Ella Fitzgerald, the queen of scat.
Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown. Live Oak. 14min. CS and paperback, $16.95. CD and paperback, $18.95.
Dana Lubotsky’s lively, youthful voice is complemented by colorful, twinkling sound effects that never overwhelm in this perfectly paced production for new readers.
Giggle, Giggle, Quack. Weston Woods. 5min. CS and hardcover, $24.95. CD and hardcover, $29.95.
Twangy accompaniments, bucolic sound effects, and Randy Travis’ delightful reading enhance this story about what happens when Farmer Brown goes on vacation and his epistolary barnyard animals are left to their own devices.
Indian Elephant Tea. Rounder Records. 38min. CD, $14.98. 800-768-6337.
Children’s favorites from “B-I-N-G-O” to “This Old Man” undergo a rockabilly reinvention in the capable picking fingers of Skip Ewing and his Big Kidz Band, making for a patently irresistible, rollicking good time.
Inkheart. Listening Library. 13.5hr. CS, $55. CD, $85. 800-541-5525.
Lynn Redgrave’s magical voice conjures up, one by one, each of the large cast of characters in Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart. The subtly nuanced reading evokes the mystery underlying this engrossing tribute to books, which celebrates the power of words and imagination.
Midnight for Charlie Bone. Listening Library. 7.5hr. CS, $36. CD, $50.
Charlie Bone may be a descendant of the magical and mesmerizing Red King, but only by discovering his paranormal powers and surviving his stint at bleak Bloor’s Academy can his lineage be proven. Simon Russell Beale’s rich, resonant reading and amazing characterizations are pitch-perfect for this fantastic mystery.
Most Perfect Harmony. Big Canoe. 2hr. CD, $15. 660-882-3353.
Inspired by the expedition of Lewis and Clark, this fine collection of songs, old and new, celebrates the role music played, lifting spirits and knitting hearts, as the Corps of Discovery worked its way across the American wilderness some 200 years ago.
Nicky’s Jazz for Kids. Dominick Media. 34min. CD, $16. 212-925-0611.
Nicky the Jazz Cat has assembled a positively catchy collection of jazz standards from “friends” like Cab Calloway and Peggy Lee, sure to set little butts bouncing and little shoulders shaking. Resist if you dare.
Noah’s Ark. Weston Woods. 9min. CS and hardcover, $24.95.
Original, dramatic music, animal sound effects, and the thundering voice of God enhance Jerry Pinkney’s striking interpretation of this Old Testament favorite. Narrator Dennis Haysbert masterfully and subtly shifts his intonation to convey God’s displeasure with wickedness on earth, His love of Noah and his family, and the story’s hopeful conclusion.
Rodzina. Listening Library. 4.5hr. CS, $30. CD, $32.
In Karen Cushman’s well-wrought historical novel, Becky Ann Baker’s expressive narration, at once young and gruff, perfectly captures the spirit of Rodzina, a tough Polish orphan girl searching for a place to belong.
Sahara Special. Listening Library. 3.5hr. CS, $23.
With great skill and empathy, Phylicia Rashad illuminates the pathos and humor of Sahara Jones’ fifth-grade year, bringing to life a classroom full of memorable characters, most especially Miss Pointy, Sahara’s astute, eccentric teacher.
Songs from the Street: 35 Years of Music. Sony Wonder. 3.5hr. CD, $49.98. 800-221-8180.
Since 1969, Sesame Street has been a gathering place for the world’s brightest stars. This collection spreads 63 tracks of glorious, witty, and simple songs across three delirious CDs.
Sweet Dreams. Goatscape Music. 52min. CD, $15. 510-528-9502.
Versatile acoustic guitar master Nina Gerber performs an eclectic selection of lullabies, ranging from the conventional “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Brahms’ Lullaby” to the surprising “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” and “Tumbalalaika.”
The Tale of Despereaux. Listening Library. 3.5hr. CS, $30. CD, $35.
Sit, dear listener, and be regaled with this captivating tale of a dear, earnest mouse, his courtly love for the sweet Princess Pea, and his quest for light. Graeme Malcolm’s reading of one unlikely hero’s saga is kissed with the magic of a fairy tale.
The Trail of the Jedi. Listening Library. 2.5hr. CS, $23.
Amazing surround-sound effects enhance Jonathan Davis’ deft, engaging reading of this fantastic story of a Jedi Padawan (apprentice) and his master, forced to elude determined bounty hunters during a seemingly routine training exercise on the planet Ragoon 6.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Harper. 6hr. CS, $24.
Sir Derek Jacobi’s conversational cadence draws listeners into this classic Narnia adventure as a coal fire invites children ‘round the storyteller’s feet. Pour yourself a cup of cocoa, curl up, and enjoy!
The Wee Free Men. Harper. 9hr. CS, $29.95.
Determined to rescue her kidnapped baby brother from the Elf Queen, aspiring witch Tiffany Aching enlists the help of the fierce blue six-inch Wee Free Men. The comedy and suspense of Tiffany’s quest, peppered with the thick Scottish speech of the little men, come to life through Stephen Briggs’ gifted, hilarious narration.
Where I’d Like to Be. Listening Library. 4hr. CS, $30.
When Maddie is sent to the East Tennessee Children’s Home and her search for a family is thwarted, she must redefine just what, and who, a home can be. Narrator Denise Wilbanks inhabits each of this fine novel’s unique, full-blooded characters with subtle distinction.
Winnie-the-Pooh. Harper. 3hr. CS, $18.
With round wit and a wry (albeit unseen) wink, Jim Broadbent restores gentleness and gentility to these love-worn stories, delivering an affectionate recording that can only be called a classic.
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