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Find more Top 10 Fantasy Audiobooks for Adult and Youth
Time travel, sorcery, swords, and dragons abound in these first-rate fantasy titles, reviewed during the past year. The superior readers and engrossing plots are sure to lift listeners, young and old, out of the everyday world. Youth titles are indicated by a grade-level designation. Also see “Top 10 Fantasy Books for Youth” on p.1455. Eragon and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix make an appearance there as well.
The Carnivorous Carnival. By Lemony Snicket. Read by Tim Curry. 2003. 5hr. unabr. Recorded Books. CS, $35 (1-4025-3732-8). 800-638-1304.
Gr. 5-8. Talented narrator Curry juggles accents, growls, and oily tones in his portrayal of the villains and freaks the Baudelaire orphans encounter when they join the carnival in order to hide from evil Count Olaf and his troops in this entertaining series title.
Circle of Magic: Daja’s Book. By Tamora Pierce. A full-cast recording. 2004. 5hr. unabr. Full Cast. CS, $29 (1-932076-28-X). CD, $34 (1-932076-29-8). 800-871-6152.
Gr. 6-9. Perfectly cast readers (including author Pierce as narrator), a strong story line, and superb technical qualities make this story of an outcast trader, who teams up with a fellow student to save the kingdom, a compelling listening adventure.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. By Mark Twain. Read by Flo Gibson. 2003. 13hr. unabr. Audio Book Contractors. CS, $59.95 (1-55685-749-7). 202-363-3429.
Gibson’s deft juggling of both modern and medieval characters captures all the wit and humor in Twain’s tale of the resourceful young man who suffers a knock on the head and awakens in King Arthur’s Court.
Eragon. By Christopher Paolini. Read by Gerard Doyle. 2003. 16.5hr. unabr. Books on Tape. CS, $55 (0-8072-1963-0). 800-541-5525.
Gr. 7-12. Creepy music sets the stage for Doyle’s stellar British-accented reading of this novel (written by teenager Paolini) about an impoverished country boy who stumbles upon a mysterious blue egg and finds his destiny as a Dragon Rider.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. By J. K. Rowling. Read by Jim Dale. 2003. 26.5hr. Listening Library. unabr. CS, $60 (0-8072-2030-2). CD, $90 (0-8072-2031-0). 800-541-5525.
Gr. 4-up. What fantasy list would be complete without Harry Potter’s latest adventures, superbly performed by Jim Dale. With his sharp definition of a multitude of characters and his perfect reflection of teen angst, Dale sets the standard for audiobook narration.
Inkheart. By Cornelia Funke. Read by Lynn Redgrave. 2003. 15.5hr. unabr. Listening Library. CS, $55 (0-8072-1952-7). CD, $85 (0-8072-2010-8).
Gr. 6-12. With wide-ranging tones and an energetic, sly reading, Redgrave draws listeners into this fast-paced tale of a 12-year-old bibliophile, her bookbinder father, and an assortment of storybook characters.
Mistress of Dragons. By Margaret Weis. Read by Gigi Marceau-Clarke. 2003. 11hr. unabr. Audio Renaissance. CS, $35.95 (1-55927-893-5). CD, $44.95 (1-55927-894-3). 800-266-2834.
Smoothly switching from hissing dragons to sharply defined human characters, Marceau-Clarke spins the tale of a dragon-turned-human who enlists the help of an idealistic young king and the magical mistress of dragons to stop a renegade dragon from taking over the world.
Things Not Seen. By Andrew Clements. Read by Daniel Passer. 2003. 6hr. unabr. Listening Library. CS, $32 (0-8072-1585-6).
Gr. 7-10. Passer’s refreshingly understated first-person narration adds plausibility to this suspenseful tale centering on a teenage boy who wakes up one morning to discover that he’s invisible.
The Time Traveler’s Wife. By Audrey Niffenegger. Read by Maggie Meg Reed and Christopher Burns. 2003. 12hr. unabr. HighBridge. CS, $36.95 (1-56511-826-X). CD, $36.95 (1-56511-827-8). 800-782-5756.
Although hopscotching through time can be disorientating for both characters and listeners, compassionate dual narrators make this love story that weaves in and out of decades particularly comprehensible and poignant.
The Wind in the Willows. By Kenneth Grahame. Read by Martin Jarvis. 2003. 3.5hr. unabr. Naxos. CS, $17.98 (9-62634-777-5). CD, $19.98 (9-62634-277-3). 877-629-6723.
Gr. 1-5. With his vocal tones perfectly in tune with the characters (particularly the raspy, overwrought, and blindly optimistic Toad) and plot, Jarvis expertly renders the classic tale with an enthusiasm that will delight all ages.
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