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Heyborne’s intense and emotional performance channels 17-year-old Finn, whose humorous and heartfelt story is punctuated by his insistence on measuring his life in sideways miles not minutes, convinced he is really the alien protagonist in his father’s sf novel.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue. By Maggie Stiefvater. Read by Will Patton. 2014. 10hr. Scholastic, CD, $39.99 (9780545649070). Gr. 8–12.
As the plot thickens in this third volume of Stiefvater’s series, Patton navigates the gorgeous linguistic acrobatics with ease, immersing the listener in a lush language experience and fully realized characters.
Clariel. By Garth Nix. Read by Graeme Malcolm. 2014. 12hr. Listening Library, CD, $60 (9780739368329). Gr. 9–12.
Narrator Malcolm’s proper, clear, and distinguished British accent enhances this epic stand-alone prequel to the Sabriel Trilogy, giving Nix’s lush prose a rich Old World feel and transporting listeners into a magical fairy-tale world.
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. By Jacqueline Kelly. Read by Natalie Ross. 2015. 8hr. Macmillan, CD, $34.99 (9781427261373). Gr. 4–7.
In a slight southern accent and singsong pattern to portray the smart, perceptive, and kind Callie, Ross takes listeners back to Texas in 1900 and the world of this irrepressible teen.
Froi of the Exiles. By Melina Marchetta. Read by Grant Cartwright. 2014. 18.5hr. Brilliance, CD, $19.99 (9781491507162). Gr. 9–12.
Cartwright’s narration is perfectly attuned to the tone of this beautiful novel about the horrors of war and the surprising tenacity of human kindness and hope, as young Froi agonizes over internal demons while proving his worth as soldier and secret scholar.
Lost in the Sun. By Lisa Graff. Read by Ramón de Ocampo. 2015. 8.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $45 (9781101892213). Gr. 5–8.
De Ocampo’s convincing depictions of middle schooler Trent, a boy consumed by guilt and rage after an accident, and his family, teachers, and friends skillfully guide listeners through this complex, emotional story.
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War. By Helen Frost. Read by Tom Picasso and others. 2014. 2.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $25.75 (9781490619361). Gr. 5–8.
In this lyrical novel in verse, Anikwa, a 12-year-old Miami boy read by Michael Bakkensen, and James, an American boy portrayed by Picasso, live as neighbors and friends as tension mounts in Indiana Territory during the War of 1812. (Top of the List winner—Youth Audio.)
The Shepherd’s Crown. By Terry Pratchett. Read by Stephen Briggs. 2015. 8hr. Harper, DD, $21.99 (9780062430557). Gr. 7–12.
In a clear, cheerful British accent full of pomp and circumstance, series narrator Briggs gives a timeless grandeur to Pratchett’s last tale, as young witch Tiffany Aching comes into her own amid the usual Pratchett hilarity.
Skink—No Surrender. By Carl Hiaasen. Read by Kirby Heyborne. 2014. 8hr. Listening Library, CD, $40 (9780804166904). Gr. 7–10.
Heyborne perfectly captures the zany, grisly humor in this hilarious ecothriller featuring Skink, Florida’s one-eyed ex-governor who dines on road kill and lives off the grid, and innocent young Richard, who fears his cousin has been abducted.
Smek for President! By Adam Rex. Read by Bahni Turpin. 2015. 6hr. Listening Library, CD, $30 (9780553395686). Gr. 4–7.
The wildly inventive Turpin narrates Rex’s deliriously funny, action-packed sci-fi comedy, mixing creative lowbrow humor with sly social satire in the story of 13-year-old Gratuity “Tip” Tucci and her extraterrestrial pal.
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. By Sara Farizan. Read by Negin Farsad. 2014. 5.5hr. HighBridge, CD, $26.95 (9781622314881). Gr. 8–11.
Farizan’s rich accents, comic timing, and appealing characterizations enrich this intriguing coming-out novel of two Iranian American high-schoolers.
The War That Saved My Life. By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Read by Jayne Entwistle. 2015. 7.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $40 (9780553556537). Gr. 5–8.
Entwistle masterfully depicts two young girls from widely different social classes, evacuated from London early in WWII and, through their stories, offers a child’s-eye view of wartime life.
Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life and Times of Jacky Faber. By L. A. Meyer. Read by Katherine Kellgren. 2014. 10.5hr. Listen and Live, CD, $29.95 (9781593166656). Gr. 8–10.
Kellgren’s incomparable narration flavors this final entry in the adventurous Jacky Faber series. With myriad dialects and accents and spot-on pacing, she immerses listeners in this rollicking and entertaining tale.
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