Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Praise of the Audiobook, Part 2

So I've been struggling to get back into a schedule since my trip back from Boston.  I was hoping to be extremely productive on my return home, what with all the inspiring academic work going on and such at the conference, but I'm hoping this week I'll really get going, continuing my reading and starting my planning for this coming school year along with prepping for my own studies starting up again finally this fall.

So in case you missed part 1 of my, "In Praise of the Audiobook" posts, here's the link to that right here. And I also have a post I did as part of Audiobook Week over at Devourer of Books which you can see here.

So here we go, six more audiobook titles that I think you'll enjoy:

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, Read by Michael Maloney. (Ages 12-14 and up)
This novel pulls you in from the very first words, from the jacket description even.  It sets a certain tone and intrigues you.  Now, I have not read the physical book, but have only listened to it so I cannot comment as to whether one is more atmospheric or worth while than the other, but I can say that this is definitely a listening that is worth experiencing.  This book kept me going wanting to find out what would happen next, which is interesting because at first a lot of Bruno's experiences are seemingly quotidian and normal.  But there is something awry and that twinge of strangeness in the setting and some of the scenes keeps you wondering.  There is also a film made of this novel (trailer below).  Now I'm definitely an advocate for the notion that however good a film might be, the book is always incredible better.  Now in the case of this story, I never felt so strongly that this was the case.  While the film was powerful and brought a deeper layer to the character of Bruno's mother, the narrative of this text is just so powerful and moving, so please don't pass up the book/audiobook for the film!  It's a quick read or listen and it's definitely worth it.

I found this sample of the audiobook on youtube, hope it gives you a nice taste:

Also, here's the trailer for the film in case you're interested:


(Also, I'm just curious, has anyone read this book going into it not knowing what the setting or historic placing of the book was?  Or had a child of theirs or student read it, not knowing this?  I'm just curious since the book never explicitly mentions the time period or figures of the time, but hints at them, sometimes even through Bruno's mishearing of things)


The Ranger's Apprentice Series by John Flanagan, Read by John Keating (Ages 10 and up) So, I need to start with the confession that I've only listened to the first three books in this series by John Flanagan.  I started reading/listening to these book when they were first coming out, so back then I had no idea that the series would be so long, although I'm excited at the prospect of going back and listening to more from this series because it really is a wonderful set of stories and characters!  So, first of all the stories themselves are epic and truly reel you in with  an incredible setting and characters that I at least really connected with.  John Keating, who has read other books like The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo and The Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor, brings an authentic feel to the stories and fills them with emotion and embodies each character in a special way.  

Here's a great video interview with John Flanagan about his books and writing:


Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, Read by Brendan Fraser (Ages 6 and up). This audio hooks you from the start.  Brendan Fraser has a real presence in this audio and he creates really great voices for the various characters, Sorrel being my personal favorite.  While I must say I was a bit disappointed with Fraser's performance for Inkspell (also by Funke) and was hesitant with how he would do here, he really did do a good job with Dragon Rider.  It's really just a fun and adventuresome story and my little brother first listened to it when he was 5 or 6 and loved it! Fraser gets a bit loud at some moments, which is my only complaint, but other than that, which isn't really a big deal, it's a great listening journey to take.

Here's a rather long preview I found on youtube, but in case you're curious to hear what it sounds like...


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Read by Jim Dale (Ages 9 and up). Many of us have read or been read A Christmas Carol.  It's tightly strung into the heart strings of what the Christmas season is made of.  On entering high school I came to the realization that a good idea for finding audiobooks was to think of who I already knew I liked as narrators and then search to see if they had done anything else.  So one of my earliest experiences with audiobooks were Jim Dale's readings of the Harry Potter books.  I soon found that Jim Dale had recordings not only of Peter Pan (which I mentioned in Part 1) but also of A Christmas Carol!  I was so excited because for what ever reason this story has always been for me a tale that was essentially Christmasy but also had a tinge of, what I now call Victorian halloween flavor, which I liked from an early age, and was so excited to hear Dale's narration.  And of course, I was not disappointed.  It takes a little while to get over the fact that your not listening to Harry Potter, since his voice is so closely tied to that, but soon your swept up in Dickens' world and Jim Dale is just perfection!


Angel on the Square and The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan, Read by Julie Dretzin (Ages 10 and up).  So first of all, if you haven't heard of these wonderful books by Gloria Whelan you should really look into them, especially if you're interested in Russian history or trying to introduce your child to the history of Russian.  Whelan wrote four books which are all connected generationally, the first being Angel on the Square, then The Impossible Journey, then Burying the Sun, and The Turning, and the first starts at the turn of the century with the fall of the imperial family and the last one is set in the spring of 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union; so they cover this whole span and are truly incredible, poignant, and stirring.  I'm sad that, as far as I know, they only made audiobooks for the first two :(  I wish they would make the other ones.  Julie Dretzin does a fantastic job, she has a calmness and powerfulness to her tone.  This is one of the audiobooks that just keeps me wanting to know what would happen next; I remember I listed to the first one my freshman year of high school and I think it's the only audiobook that I actually had it on my iPod and listened to it in the hallway between classes and didn't want to stop!


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Read by Eric Idle (Ages 6 and up).  As a child I never knew that "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" the film, was actually based on a book.  So all I new was the film.  I obviously figured out some time ago that it was in fact based on a book by Roald Dahl.  However it wasn't until two summers ago that I finally read it when I read it aloud to my 6 year old brother.  And it just blew me away, it was soo good and sooo much better than the film; the Oompaloompa song about books and television should be posted in every school and library!  Now, my little brother loved it so much that he wanted to hear it on audio, and so I tracked down a copy from my library, and I can tell you that neither of us was disappointed.  From the beginning music selected (I actually haven't mentioned this anywhere in my other audiobook recommendations but I'm a big fan and judger of what kind of music is chosen for the beginning of audios and am always disappointed when I find one that doesn't even have music!) we were hooked, and Eric Idle just did a quirky, fantastical and whimsical job of narrating this famous and well loved story.  From each child to the songs and Wonka himself this version of the book is a must hear!

Thanks to all who commented on part 1 with thoughts and suggestions!!  Please keep commenting and sending in suggestions or favorites or whatever you like :)

1 comment:

  1. Oooo The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Why didn't I think of listening to this one? Great idea! :)