The following audiobooks were nominated in the Children’s for Ages 8-12 Category. This category is being reviewed by Tanya from dog eared copy and Heidi from Bunbury in the Stacks. Would you like to join the crowd? Sign up here.
The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright and narrated by Katherine Kellgren and Robin Sachs
Skilley is a cheese loving tom cat prowling the alleys of Charles Dickens’ London in search of a safe haven. As it happens, The Cheshire Cheese, a local pub renowned for the excellence of its eponymous dairy product, is in search of a mouser!…The Cheshire Cheese Cat explores the difficulties of being different, of having friendship tested, of the adversities that individuals face but that ultimately shape character…The Cheshire Cheese Cat has an interesting hook to the story in that Charles Dickens and a couple of other literary luminaries of the time make an appearance in the story…
Carmen Agra Deedy’s The Cheshire Cheese Cat is the perfect example of good things coming in small packages, and paired with the marvelous Katherine Kellgreen to bring it to life, it is no surprise to me that it has received an Audie nomination for 2012. Alas, experiencing the joy of Katherine Kellgreen’s narration does mean sacrificing the charm of Barry Moser’s illustrations, but as someone who is coming to associate Kellgreen’s narration with such a time and place, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman and narrated by Robin Miles
The Freedom Maze is one of those books that is definitely enhanced by its audio production. The audio includes a wonderful interview with Delia Sherman in which she talks about the historical aspects of her book and the writing process, The Freedom Maze taking her a staggering 18 years and 27 rewrites to complete. She also talked of her role in finding the perfect narrator to portray Sophie’s tale, a process we as readers hear about very rarely (in fact, I’m not sure how much control authors usually have here). Sherman was immediately sold on Robin Miles for her ability to instinctively pronounce words like “New Orleans” as one from Louisiana would, and also Miles’ ability to capture two disparate historical time periods in her voice: 1960 and 1860. And she does; Robin Miles was without a doubt the perfect narrator for The Freedom Maze, easily transporting the reader to these time periods with her voice, accents, and inflection.
Same Sun Here written and narrated by Silas House , Neela Vaswani
Same Sun Here is an epistolary novel featuring the correspondence between two 12-year old pen pals: Meena, an illegal immigrant girl from India living in a rent control apartment (without the landlord’s knowledge or consent) in New York City and; River, a Kentucky boy from a rural coal mining area… Meena and River are both face challenges in their lives unique to their area: Meena lives a furtive life fearing eviction from her family’s apartment while River’s environment is being ruined by mountain top removal operations that threaten the health and safety of the area’s inhabitants… Same Sun Here is an excellent exposition of commonplace social inequity that infiltrates The Land of Opportunity and how, despite suffocating odds, small actions can provide the force for change…
For some inexplicable reason, I have shied away from doing epistolary novels via audio. After listening to the absolute joy that was Same Sun Here, I’m putting all epistolary reads in my TBR into my TBLT (to-be-listened-to) pile, because clearly two formats could not be more perfectly married. Of course a book featuring letters sent back and forth between two young people would be best told audibly by two narrators.
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz and narrated by Davina Porter
“…Splendors and Glooms is a fantastic tale with magic and thrills and, rich in detail of setting and thought; but it is also a rather dark and sophisticated story… Davina Porter is the British narrator whose work on this book is irreproachable…”
Wonder by R. J. Palacio and narrated by Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, and Kate Rudd
The audio production for Wonder is, indeed, wonderful. My least favorite part of the narration was of the character Auggie, and I will admit that this may have had some reflection on my feelings toward the book in general. Diana Steele does a fine job of narrating this young man, but the scratchy sensation of having a grown woman narrate a boy’s voice gave me the feeling that I was watching an episode of The Simpsons. Nick Podehl’s sections were, no surprise, the highlight of Wonder via audio for me, as he does an impeccable job of voicing several male characters both with and without strong New York accents. Kate Rudd’s sections were also excellent, though with less audible differentiation between characters; as the book is split into sections by character, this really isn’t an issue. One aspect of the written book that you miss when listening is the unique way it is printed. I believe there are different fonts used for the various characters, as well as misspellings, etc. for when characters are writing to one another. Personally I believe this is an aspect that may have further annoyed me and I am happy to do without, but other readers do enjoy these types of distinction.
August “Auggie” Pullman was born with a severely mal-formed face … Wonder tracks Auggie’s first year in school from several perspectives… [and] is a poignant story that well illustrates personal triumphs as well as a sort of karmic justice in play.