It’s Here! Our 2010 list of the best audiobooks for Families and Kids.

Audiobooks on the Go
Summer Listening for Kids & Families
Updated 2010 Edition

by Sharon Grover & AudioFile Editors

Summer is almost here, and for many families that means time spent in the car. It’s also the time when parents struggle to keep their kids reading at grade level. Why not try listening together? Whether you choose a picture book readalong, a middle grade mystery, or a young adult fantasy, here are stories the whole family will enjoy.

 

 

OTHER TIMES & PLACES
ALMOST ASTRONAUTS Tanya Lee Stone
Read by Susan Ericksen (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 5+

BLOODY JACK
CURSE OF THE BLUE TATTOO
UNDER THE JOLLY ROGER
IN THE BELLY OF THE BLOODHOUND
MISSISSIPPI JACK
MY BONNY LIGHT HORSEMAN
L.A. Meyer
Read by Katherine Kellgren (Listen & Live)
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Gr. 8+

BROOKLYN BRIDGE Karen Hesse
Read by Fred Berman (Macmillan Audio)
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Gr. 4+
CHARLES AND EMMA Deborah Heiligman
Read by Rosalyn Landor (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
CHASING LINCOLN’S KILLER James L. Swanson
Read by Will Patton (Scholastic Audiobooks)
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Gr. 5+
CLAUDETTE COLVIN: TWICE TOWARD JUSTICE Phillip Hoose
Read by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 6+
CROWS AND CARDS Joseph Helgerson
Read by MacLeod Andrews (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 5+

DAY OF TEARS Julius Lester
Read by an ensemble cast (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 6+
THE DRAGONFLY POOL Eva Ibbotson
Read by Patricia Connolly (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 4+
ELIJAH OF BUXTON Christopher Paul Curtis
Read by Mirron Willis (Listening Library)
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Gr. 6+
ERNEST HEMINGWAY: A WRITER’S LIFE Catherine Reef
Read by Jill Shellabarger (Oasis Audio)
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Gr. 9+

GODDESS OF YESTERDAY Caroline Cooney
Read by Christina Moore (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 5+
GOOD MASTERS, SWEET LADIES Laura Amy Schlitz
Read by Christina Moore and a Full Cast (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 4+
HANA’S SUITCASE Karen Levine
Read by Stephanie Wolfe (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 5+

HITLER YOUTH Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Read by Kathrin Kana (Listening Library)
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Gr. 6+

THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET Brian Selznick
Read by Jeff Woodman (Scholastic Audio)
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Gr. 4+

JAZZ Walter Dean Myers
Read by James “D-Train” Williams, Vaneese Thomas (Live Oak Media)
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Gr. 5+

THE JOURNEY OF THE ONE AND ONLY DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE Judith St. George
Read by Jeff Brooks (Weston Woods)
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Gr. 1+
KETURAH AND LORD DEATH Martine Leavitt
Read by Alyssa Bresnahan (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 6+
LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY Russell Freedman
Read by Robert Petkoff (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
NEWES FROM THE DEAD Mary Hooper
Read by Rosalyn Landor, Michael Page (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 7+
PRIVATE PEACEFUL Michael Morpurgo
Read by Jeff Woodman (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 7+
REVENGE OF THE WHALE Nathaniel Philbrick
Read by Taylor Mali (Audio Bookshelf)
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Gr. 6+
STOP THE TRAIN! Geraldine McCaughrean
Read by Ellen Myrick and the Full Cast Family (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 4+
WATER STREET Patricia Reilly Giff
Read by Coleen Marlo (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
WHEN MY NAME WAS KEOKO Linda Sue Park
Read by Norm Lee, Jenny Ikeda (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 5+

This 2009 National Book Award winner introduces listeners to forgotten Civil Rights heroine Claudette Colvin, who (nine months before Rosa Parks) refused to give up her own Birmingham bus seat. Channie Waites superbly narrates a text that offers both cogent explanations of history, including especially informative sidebars, and first-person accounts of those who witnessed the battle for civil rights firsthand, dramatized by Waites in a vivid array of voices. Listening to Jim Crow policies along with quotes from people who were subjected to such indignities brings history alive. Waites’s crowning accomplishment is her narration of long passages from Hoose’s interviews with Colvin herself. Those listening as she gives voice to Colvin’s memories, whether as inquisitive child or teen awakened by education and seething with injustice, will be incredibly moved. J.C.G.

CLASSICS

ACROSS FIVE APRILS Irene Hunt
Read by Terry Brégy (Audio Bookshelf)
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Gr. 6+

ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Lewis Carroll
Read by Jim Dale (Listening Library)
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Gr. 2+

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS Jules Verne
Read by Jim Dale (Listening Library)
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Gr. 6+

CHARLOTTE’S WEB E.B. White
Read by E.B. White (Listening Library)
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Gr. 3+

A COLLECTION OF RUDYARD KIPLING’S JUST SO STORIES Elyne Mitchell
Read by Jim Weiss (Greathall Productions)
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Gr. 4+
THE COLT FROM SNOWY RIVER Rudyard Kipling
Read by Caroline Lee (Bolinda Audio)
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Gr. 4+
DAVID COPPERFIELD Charles Dickens
Read by Simon Vance (Tantor Media)
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Gr. 6+

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING,
THE TWO TOWERS,
THE RETURN OF THE KING
J.R.R. Tolkien
Read by Rob Inglis (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 6+

MERIAN C. COOPER’S KING KONG Joe DeVito, Brad Strickland
Read by David Baker and the Full Cast Family (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 4+
MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS Florence Atwater, Richard Atwater
Read by Nick Sullivan (Hachette Audio)
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Gr. 2+

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA Ernest Hemingway
Read by Donald Sutherland (Simon & Schuster Audio/Recorded Books)
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Gr. 9+

PETER PAN J.M. Barrie
Read by Jim Dale (Listening Library)
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Gr. 4+

THE PIGMAN Paul Zindel
Read by Eden Riegel, Charlie McWade (Graymalkin Audio)
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Gr. 8+
THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH Norton Juster
Read by David Hyde Pierce (Harper Audio)
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Gr. 4+
SHAKESPEARE’S GREATEST HITS William Shakespeare, Bruce Coville
Read by Bruce Coville, Cynthia Bishop, and a Full Cast (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 3+
THE SWORD IN THE STONE T.H. White
Read by Neville Jason (Naxos AudioBooks)
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Gr. 4+
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Harper Lee
Read by Sissy Spacek (Harper Audio/Recorded Books)
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Gr. 8+
TREASURE ISLAND Robert Louis Stevenson
Read by Alfred Molina (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
WINNIE-THE-POOH,
THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER
A.A. Milne
Read by Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Jane Horrocks, et al. (Listening Library)
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Gr. 1+

At 34 hours in length, this is quite a tome, but there’s no one better qualified than Simon Vance to lead us through this audio journey. He parses the author’s long sentences well, pausing sufficiently to make the details easy to follow while still maintaining a quick enough pace to keep the story going. Most enjoyable is his voicing of the myriad characters who appear in the narrative—and characters they certainly are. Vance times their occasionally hilarious exchanges especially well. All of this is delivered in a manner that suggests that Vance revels in Dickens’s prose and sly humor, and the listener cannot help but revel along with him. Three cheers for Vance—and not the least for his stamina! A.E.B.

FANTASTIC WORLDS

AIRBORN
SKYBREAKER
Kenneth Oppel
Read by David Kelly and the Full Cast Family (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 6+

THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND,
THE GOLEM’S EYE,
PTOLEMY’S GATE
Jonathan Stroud
Read by Simon Jones (Listening Library)
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Gr. 6+

THE BEASTS OF CLAWSTONE CASTLE Eva Ibbotson
Read by Jenny Sterlin (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 4+

THE CABINET OF WONDERS Marie Rutkoski
Read by Lorelei King (Macmillan Audio)
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Gr. 5+

CORALINE Neil Gaiman
Read by Neil Gaiman (Harper Audio)
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Gr. 5+

THE DEATH COLLECTOR Justin Richards
Read by Steven Pacey (Listening Library)
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Gr. 6+
FAIREST Gail Carson Levine
Read by Sarah Naughton and a Full Cast (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 6+
THE GOLDEN COMPASS,
THE SUBTLE KNIFE,
THE AMBER SPYGLASS,

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH Philip Pullman
Read by the author and a Full Cast (Listening Library)
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Gr. 7+
GRACELING Kristin Cashore
Read by David Baker, Chelsea Mixon, Zachary Exton and a Full Cast (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 9+
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK Neil Gaiman
Read by Neil Gaiman (Harper Audio)
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Gr. 4+
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE,
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS,
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN,
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE,
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX,
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE,
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS
J.K. Rowling
Read by Jim Dale (Listening Library)
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Gr. 4-Adult
I, CORIANDER Sally Gardner
Read by Juliet Stevenson (Listening Library)
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Gr. 7+
IGRAINE THE BRAVE Cornelia Funke
Read by Xanthe Elbrick (Listening Library)
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Gr. 3+
LEVIATHAN Scott Westerfeld
Read by Alan Cumming (Simon & Schuster Audio)
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Gr. 6+
THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER David Whitley
Read by Simon Vance (Macmillan Audio/BBC Audiobooks America)
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Gr. 6+
NATION Terry Pratchett
Read by Stephen Briggs (Harper Audio)
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Gr. 7+
PETER PAN IN SCARLET Geraldine McCaughrean
Read by Tim Curry (Simon & Schuster Audio)
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Gr. 4+
SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT,
PLAYING WITH FIRE
THE FACELESS ONES
Derek Landy
Read by Rupert Degas (Harper Audio)
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Gr. 5+
THE SNOW SPIDER Jenny Nimmo
Read by John Keating (Scholastic Audio)
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Gr. 4+
SWORDBIRD Nancy Yi Fan
Read by Colleen Delany (Harper Audio)
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Gr. 4+
THE WEE FREE MEN,
A HAT FULL OF SKY,
WINTERSMITH
Terry Pratchett
Read by Stephen Briggs (Harper Audio)
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Gr. 5+
WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON Grace Lin
Read by Janet Song (Listening Library)
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Gr. 3+
WOLF BROTHER,
SPIRIT WALKER,
SOUL EATER
OUTCAST
OATH BREAKER
Michelle Paver
Read by Ian McKellen (Harper Audio/Recorded Books)
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Gr. 5+

 

Kristin Cashore’s well-developed characters are completely realized in this full-cast production. Chelsea Mixon portrays Lady Katsa, who was born with a horrifying “grace” for killing. Mixon’s nuanced portrayal gives an inside view of the confusions that torment this “graceling.” These conflicts increase after she meets Po, an empathetic graceling. Zachary Exton’s depiction of Po’s soft steadiness contrasts with Mixon’s picture of Katsa’s flaring tempers. Listeners will feel the power of the connection between the two and its building intensity. Even minor characters are richly rendered. Their interactions, thoughts, and actions are well integrated in David Baker’s strong narration, which animates events and astutely measures emotions. Musical interludes, both regal and somber, are as plentiful as the plot twists, and the result is a production listeners won’t soon forget. S.W.

FAMILY & COMMUNITY
THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN Sherman Alexie
Read by Sherman Alexie (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 8+
ANNIE ON MY MIND Nancy Garden
Read by Rebecca Lowman (Listening Library)
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Gr. 10+
ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL Nora Raleigh Baskin
Read by Tom Parks (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 8+
BRENDAN BUCKLEY’S UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING IN IT Sundee T. Frazier
Read by Mirron Willis (Listening Library)
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Gr. 4+

BUDDHA BOY Kathe Koja
Read by a Full Cast (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 7+

CARTER FINALLY GETS IT Brent Crawford
Read by Nick Podehl (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 9+

CLEMENTINE
CLEMENTINE’S LETTER
THE TALENTED CLEMENTINE
Sarah Pennypacker
Read by Jessica Almasy (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 1+

COLIBRÍ Ann Cameron
Read by Jacqueline Kim (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+

THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE George Selden
Read by Tony Shalhoub (Macmillan Audio)
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Gr. 4+
DAIRY QUEEN, THE OFF SEASON Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Read by Natalie Moore (Listening Library)
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Gr. 6+
DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? Randa Abdel-Fattah
Read by Rebecca Macauley (Bolinda Audio)
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Gr. 6+
EMMA-JEAN LAZARUS FELL OUT OF A TREE
EMMA-JEAN LAZARUS FELL IN LOVE
Lauren Tarshis
Read by Mamie Gummer (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
EVERYTHING IS FINE Ann Dee Ellis
Read by Carrington MacDuffie (Listening Library)
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Gr. 6+
THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE Jacqueline Kelly
Read by Natalie Ross (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 5+
FISH L.S. Matthews
Read by Jenna Lamia (Listening Library)
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Gr. 4+
FLUSH
HOOT
Carl Hiaasen
Read by Michael Welch
SCAT Carl Hiaasen
Read by Ed Asner (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
GOONEY BIRD COLLECTION Lois Lowry
Read by Lee Adams (Listening Library)
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Gr. +
GRANNY TORRELLI MAKES SOUP Sharon Creech
Read by Donna Murphy (Harper Audio/Recorded Books)
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Gr. 4+
HEART OF A SHEPHERD Rosanne Parry
Read by Kirby Heyborne (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
HEAT Mike Lupica
Read by Paolo Andino (Listening Library)
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Gr. 6+
THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY,
LUCKY BREAKS
Susan Patron
Read by Cassandra Campbell (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
IF I STAY Gayle Forman
Read by Kirsten Potter (Penguin Audio/Listening Library)
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Gr. 9+
JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY,
JOEY PIGZA LOSES CONTROL,
I AM NOT JOEY PIGZA
Jack Gantos
Read by Jack Gantos (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
THE KILLER’S COUSIN Nancy Werlin
Read by Nick Podehl (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 8+
KNUCKLEHEAD Jon Scieszka
Read by Jon Scieszka (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 4+
MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD Francisco X. Stork
Read by Lincoln Hoppe (Listening Library)
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Gr. 8+
MISFITS James Howe
Read by Spencer Murphy and a Full Cast (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 7+
MY ONE HUNDRED ADVENTURES Polly Horvath
Read by Tai Alexandra Ricci (Listening Library)
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Gr. 4+
NO TALKING Andrew Clements
Read by Keith Nobbs (Simon & Schuster Audio/Recorded Books)
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Gr. 4+
NORMAN TUTTLE ON THE LAST FRONTIER Tom Bodett
Read by Tom Bodett (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
ONCE WAS LOST Sara Zarr
Read by Sara Zarr (Listening Library)
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Gr. 7+
PEACE, LOCOMOTION Jacqueline Woodson
Read by Dion Graham (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 5+
SAVING FRANCESCA Melina Marchetta
Read by Rebecca Macauley (Bolinda Audio)
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Gr. 9+
SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE David Lubar Stevenson
Read by Ryan MacConnell and the Full Cast Family (Full Cast Audio)
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Gr. 8+
THREE CUPS OF TEA: YOUNG READER’S EDITION Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
Read by Atossa Leoni (Penguin Audio)
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Gr. 4+
TRULY WINNIE
WINNIE DANCING ON HER OWN
Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Read by Laura Hamilton (Live Oak Media/BBC Audiobooks America)
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Gr. 1+
THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER Sarah Dessen
Read by Stina Nielsen (Recorded Books)
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Gr. 7+
WE ARE THE SHIP Kadir Nelson
Read by Dion Graham (Brilliance Audio)
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Gr. 3+
THE WEDNESDAY WARS Gary D. Schmidt
Read by Joel Johnstone (Scholastic Audiobooks)
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Gr. 5+
THE WHALE RIDER Witi Ihimaera
Read by Jay Laga’aia (Bolinda Audio)
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Gr. 5+
WHEN YOU REACH ME Rebecca Stead
Read by Cynthia Holloway (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+
THE WHITE GIRAFFE
DOLPHIN SONG
Lauren St. John
Read by Adjoa Andoh (Listening Library)
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Gr. 5+

A strong reading by Cynthia Holloway makes listeners curious about this story’s nonlinear structure, rather than being put off. Holloway portrays the confusion of sixth-grader Miranda, who is befuddled by several letters that appear in her apartment, foretelling a future that, at first, makes no sense to her—or to listeners. Holloway manages both the real and fantasy elements of the story so that we believe in the young heroine’s worries about friendship and her hopes for her mother’s success on a game show. Equally convincing is Holloway’s presentation of Miranda’s feelings and actions as she untangles the book’s puzzle. By the end, we, like Miranda, believe in the time-travel that serves as the story’s turning point. S.W.

April/May 2010
(c) 2010 AudioFile Publications, Inc.

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