Five Delightful Audio Books!

It’s a run of fun books on CD to listen to alone or to share with your family!

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half a chanceHalf a Chance
By Cynthia Lord, Narrated by Maria Cabezas
4.75 Hours; 4 CDs

Lucy has just moved–again–with her parents to New Hampshire.  This is the first time their new home has been on a lake, but other than that, it’s kind of the same.  At least it’s summer, and Lucy won’t be the “new kid” in the middle of a school year.  But since most of the time, summer vacations are spent with friends you meet at school, she’s not sure what she’s going to do all alone.

half a chance audioThen she meets Nate, the kid who’s spending the summer at the lake with his family.  He’s staying with his grandmother,  who practically adopts Lucy into the family.  When Lucy’s father, a professional photographer, leaves shortly after they’ve arrived, Lucy comes up with a different way to stay close to him.  He’s supposed to judge a photography contest when he returns, and Lucy is determined to get his attention by winning.  She doesn’t want him to know he’s looking at her photos though, so Nate agrees to help her.  She’ll do the photography, and he’ll help her find ways to interpret the themes.  They work well together.  But then Lucy realizes that something is up with Grandma Lilah, and her photographs reveal things that Nate would rather not see.  Can they still work together and be friends?

Half a Chance is a poignant story about life and friendship, beginnings and endings.  I really enjoyed the narrator, who made the story come to life.  Highly recommended for kids in grades four through seven.  If you vacation in New Hampshire, like loons, or are a photographer, you have to read or listen to this story!

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flushFlush
By Carl Hiaasen, Read by Michael Welch
5 Hours, 23 Minutes, 5 CDs

Noah always knew his father could be a little irrational about saving the environment, but there’s irrational and there’s just plain crazy!  When his father is arrested for sinking a casino boat, Noah is prepared to deal with the fallout of fines and a grumpy mother, which is usually what happens.  But this time, his father refuses to pay the fine, declaring he will stay in jail until the casino owner answers for his crimes–namely, dumping the raw sewage from the boat’s waste tanks every night into the Florida Keys.  And there are reporters from newpapers and TV talking to him about it in jail!

But there’s no proof, and soon the casino is up and running again.  Noah’s father is still in jail, and his mother is talking the D word…divorce.  Noah decides that he has to prove his father is right, and his little sister Abbey plans to help.  Together, they come up with a plan.  But when the guy who was going to tell the truth on the casino order vanishes, leaving behind a blood-stained car, Noah and Abbey realize that maybe they’ve bit off more than they can chew.  With the bad guys after the whole family, can they prove their father is right in time?

flush audioIt’s not perfect, but the audio recording of Flush is enjoyable. The narrator of this sound recording has a pleasant voice, but he does tend to swallow some of his words when he’s reading, and it’s sometimes a bit difficult to tell who is talking.  However, the story is compelling, the characters are quirky and fun, and the mystery will keep you guessing, so it’s easy to ignore a few flaws.

Flush is best for kids in fifth through eighth grades, and it’s good for a car trip too, especially if your final destination is Florida!

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fantastic family whippleThe Fantastic Family Whipple
By Matthew Ward, Narrated by Steven Crossley
10.25 Hours, 9 CDs

To the Whipple Family, the most important thing in the world is achieving World Records.  From the moment they’re born (on March 1st for Mr. and Mrs. Whipple, Henry, Simon, Cordelia, Penelope, Edward, Charlotte, Lenora, Franklin, Abigail, Beatrice, George and Ivy) –they’re breaking records for everything from holding heir breath to competitive eating.  The only exception is Arthur, who was born on February 29th and who, try as he might, can’t manage to break a record for anything.

But when his latest attempt at record breaking by hopping on one foot while cracking a bullwhip fails in front of the birthday party audience fails, Mr. Whipple makes a slip and reveals to Arthur that there might be a curse on the family.  Arthur manages to put a few random clues together and is soon tracking down an unusual pair of menacing clowns.  With the help of the family’s cook and butler, and Ruby, the daughter of Mr. Whipple’s nemesis, Arthur is soon tracking down the source of the curse.  But will he be in time to save the Whipple Family?

fantastic family whipple audioI loved the narrator of The Fantastic Family Whipple; Stephen Crossley did an excellent job creating many different voices, filling out a huge cast of characters with creativity.  I enjoyed the narration more than the story, in fact.  (But that may be that pesky problem I have with trying to read real-life logic into fantasy worlds.)   If you don’t mind not thinking about things like how a family of fifteen can spend all their time trying to break world records or how a four year old can be a competitive eater, then you’ll probably love The Fantastic Family Whipple.  If you Do have a problem with that, just sit back and listen to the voices and imagine the characters.  You’ll still enjoy it.   The book is for kids ages 8 to 12, and the recording is good for all ages.

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escape from mr lemoncello's libraryEscape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
By Chris Gravenstein, Read by Jesse Bernstein
6 Hours, 20 Minutes; 5 CDs

Kyle Keelly has spent all of his life competing with his two older brothers–one a jock, the other a brain–and the only time he wins, sometimes, is when it comes to the games they play created by Mr. Lemoncello.  Most of them are board games, but with dice and wacky rules and physical components that give anyone the opportunity to win!  So when Kyle learns that Mr. Lemoncello, the world-famous game maker and library enthusiast, is building a state-of-the-art library in his very own town, he’s intrigued.  And when he learns that there’s going to be a contest for all ten-year-olds to write an essay where the winners get the chance to be the first to stay overnight in the new library, he plans to win.  Too bad that he didn’t realize what the prize was until five minutes before the essay was due.

However, Kyle manages to be one of the kids spending the night.  And after an exciting night finding solving one mystery, when they wake up the next morning, they learn that there’s an even greater contest they can choose to participate in–the first kid to follow the clues hidden throughout the library and escape the building wins an unbelievable prize!  Kyle is determined to be that kid.  As the games get harder, Kyle figures out that working together may be the best chance to win.  But with the other kids go along with that?  See if you can figure out the clues as the story unfolds!

escape from mr lemoncello's library audioMaybe it’s the librarian in me, but I thoroughly enjoyed Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, both the book and the sound recording.  It’s sort of a cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Kingdom Keepers series, and the Summer Reading Program!  If you read the book, the clues are pictured and slightly easier to put together.  The book on CD is good too, even if it’s a little harder to follow audio clues.  The narrator is wonderful, with distinctive voices for the kids and great voices for the adults.  Pure enjoyment all around!

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a thrilling puzzler–or a puzzling thriller—right to the very end.  For kids in fourth to seventh grade, this adventure would be a mystery for the whole family to enjoy!  (And I’m really looking forward to reading  The Island of Dr. Libris, Chris Grabenstein’s new book that just came out this week!)

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smek for president 2Smek for President!
By Adam Rex, Read by Bahni Turpin
6 Hours, 5 CDs

My absolute favorite of the bunch!  :)

This sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday (my favorite audio book EVER–see the original review here) is just as impressive as the first book.  My only complaint is that it ended–it’s just not long enough!

A year after all their adventures saving the world from the alien Gorg (and a bit from J.Lo’s people, the Boov) Tip and J.Lo are a little bored just staying close to home.  They need a vacation.  And also, they kind of have to escape town so that J.Lo won’t get into trouble for attacking and partially eating some college girl’s furry purple boots.  So they decide to take their hovercar Slushious out of mothballs and fly to New Boovworld, one of the moons of Saturn which has become the new home of the Boov.  Except that Tip’s mother isn’t in agreement with their plan.  Tip tricks J.Lo into going anyway, and soon the pair is on their way.

smek for president audioBut once they get there, things become complicated.  J.Lo had planned to wear his disguise helmet (which are sort of like sunglasses for humans) because he knows the Boov are still angry with him for being the reason the Gorg came to Earth.  But when Tip and J.Lo find out that they’ve reached New Boovworld just in time for the presidential elections, with J.Lo’s hero Smek running, J.Lo wants to explain what happened back on Earth.  Little does he know that the Boov call him The Squealer, and he’s considered Public Enemy Number One.  Even though Tip protests, that doesn’t stop J.Lo, he still convices her to come with him to meet Smek.  But right after that meeting, J.Lo and Tip are on the run from Smek, the entire planetful of Boov, a masked Boov assassin, and Dan Landry, the only adult human on New Boovworld, the man who took credit for their hard work saving Earth.  It’s a mess!  But this is Gratuity (Tip) Tucci, and J.Lo.  If anyone can handle it, they can.  Can’t they?

I love both Smek books, I love this author, I love this narrator, I love the whole package!  (Other people must have understood how good it is too, as The True Meaning of Smekday is hitting theaters this month, retitled as Home, a new animated movie from Dreamworks Pictures, starring Jim Parsons and Rihanna.  My only complaint is that they should have used Bahni Turpin as the voice of J.Lo, who was renamed Oh in the movie.)

Anyway, Bahni Turpin is the best, and the sound recording is excellent.  You’ll laugh out loud at the voices she creates, and probably forget that only one person is reading!  Make sure to check out the artwork, either in the book or on the PDF files on the CDs).

Smek for President is best for kids in grades four through seven, and it will be much better if you read The True Meaning of Smekday.  The sound recording for Smek for President is great for all ages, and it would definitely enhance a family car trip.  I highly recommend both books!  I hope that there’s a book three, continuing the adventures of Tip and J.Lo, coming out sometime soon!

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Try one of these books, or one of our many other enjoyable audio selections on your next trip.  Or just to listen to on your drive around town, because it will definitely make it pass faster.  If you need other suggestions, please ask a librarian any time for help!

::Kelly::

OPEN BOOK: February 27, 2015

OPEN BOOK: AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER FOR TEENS from the Weston Public Library

Open Book is an email newsletter of book recommendations for teens. It is sent once a month and includes book excerpts in six teen fiction categories (realistic fiction, historical fiction, action/ adventure/fantasy/science fiction, romance, the buzz: middle school, and the buzz: high school). If you wish to subscribe to Open Book, please email smitchill@minlib.net or sign up in person at the Youth Services desk at the Library. Open Book email newsletters are also archived here on our blog.

Here are the picks for this week…

Don’t forget to click on the title to be connected to our catalog where you can

-Request the book

-Read reviews of the book from multiple sources

 

1   2    3   4    6  5

 

Realistic Fiction

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki (graphic novel)

Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

Read an excerpt from this Printz Honor and Caldecott Honor book

Historical Fiction / Nonfiction

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.

Read an excerpt

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Insignia by S. J. Kincaid

Tom, a fourteen-year-old genius at virtual reality games, is recruited by the United States Military to begin training at the Pentagon Spire as a Combatant in World War III, controlling the mechanized drones that do the actual fighting off-planet.

Read an excerpt

Romance

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Star athlete and prom king Ezra Faulkner’s life is irreparably transformed by a tragic accident and the arrival of eccentric new girl Cassidy Thorpe.

Read an excerpt

Buzz: Middle School

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

Read an excerpt

Buzz:  High School

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.Christine Heppermann’s collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it “a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that’s caustic, funny, and heartbreaking.”Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how…

Read an excerpt

February New Books!

We added lots of new books in February.  Here are a few of my favorites that I grabbed off the cart!

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PICTURE BOOKS:

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naptime with Theo and BeauNaptime with Theo & Beau
by Jessica Shyba

Theo is the puppy, Beau is the little boy.  When Beau was about a year old, he and his brother and sister asked for a puppy for Christmas.  A few months later, Theo came into their lives, adopted from a shelter.

From the moment they met, Theo and Beau were best friends.  And like all friends, they like to do things together.  Like nap!  Every day, Theo waits for Beau to fall asleep.  When he does, Theo is sleepy too!  So Beau’s mom Hoists him up on the bed, Theo plops himself on top of Beau, and they nap together for a couple hours.  With simple, descriptive text, this book shows some of the best pictures of their naps together.

I have to admit, I fell in love with the pictures of Theo and Beau online, and I follow the author’s blog: Momma’s Gone City.  There’s something special between this boy and his dog, and I hope to see pictures of Theo and Beau continue.

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Dear mr washingtonDear Mr. Washington
by Lynn Cullen, Pictures by Nancy Carpenter

Charlotte and James  and their little brother, Baby John, have promised to be on their best behavior while President George Washington comes to sit for a portrait to be painted by their father, Gilbert Stuart.   But when he comes, Baby John chews his hair ribbon, James chases their cat  up Mr. Washington’s shoulder, and Charlotte is caught spying, because she just wanted to see if the president could smile.

After the disastrous first visit, Mr. Washington sends the Stuart children a copy of his book of manners, and Charlotte, being a very polite little girl,  writes her thanks and apologies in a series of letters.  The text of this book is those letters, with illustrations showing how things *really* went.

I love this book!  The expressions on both the children and the adults’ faces; the exuberance of Charlotte, James and Baby John as they try to impress and befriend the imposing Mr. Washington, the despair of the parents as everything goes completely wrong, the illustrations of children’s interpretation of Mr. Washington’s Rules for Good Behavior, (with guest appearances from Benjamin Franklin, Martha Washington and Thomas Jefferson).  Based on a true event, described in a brief afterword, this is a perfect way to meet George Washington for young readers.

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FAIRY TALES:

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Little Red Riding HoodLittle Red Riding Hood
By the Brothers Grimm, Illustrated by Sybille Schenker, Translated by Anthea Bell

This beautiful new take on an old tale is a stunning read.

Based the tale from the Brothers Grimm, and translated from the German, the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (called Little Red Cap in this version) is the older, traditional version of the tale.  Grandma does get eaten, as does Little Red, and the Huntsman shows up to kill the wolf in a rather gruesome way and save the day.

But the illustrations!  They are so beautifully done.  Cut-paper illustrations allow the reader to look through the woods to try to see what is happening on the next page.  And then, when you turn the page, looking back where you’ve been is almost better.  Black and red feature heavily in the color scheme, which is appropriate for Little Red and the Wolf.

I wouldn’t give this to a very young child, as the pages with the cuts are quite delicate.  But if you’re looking for a way to share Little Red Riding Hood with your child, this is a wonderful way to do it.

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classic bedtime storiesClassic Bedtime Stories
Illustrated by Scott Gustafson

Includes favorites like The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, The Tortoise and the Hair, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Story of Little Sambha and the Tigers, and Sleeping Beauty.

Wonderful re-tellings, with even more wonderful illustrations.  If you’re looking for a collection of tales to share with your child at bedtime, where they can pour over the pictures while you read the stories.

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NON-FICTION:

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Two New Series: National Geographic Kids Chapters and DK’s Eyewonder

Tiger in TroubleTiger in Trouble: And More True Stories of Amazing Animal Rescues
By Kelly Milner Halls

This series features special animals–but all of them have captured the attention of the public in one way or another!  Some are great escape artists, some have poignant stories of survival, some are strong rescuers.  All are unforgettable.  Each book features three animals and the people who care for them.

In Tiger in Trouble, you’ll meet Nitro, a tiger kept as a pet in a small cage who no one knew was blind, Etheral, a baby albino bat whose white fur made it impossible for her to catch food, and Suzie, Bob and Caleb, three Vervet monkeys each raised as a pet who had to come together to be a family.

This series is perfect for second and third grader readers who love animals.

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piratesPirates
by Deborah Lock

Every fact you wanted to know about pirates for kids!

This series is similar to the Eyewitness books, but for a slightly younger audience.  Well researched, with great photographs and illustrations.  The Eyewonder series also features some fun activities and games, as well as a facts check-up, glossary and index at the end of the book.

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FICTION:

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Smek for presidentSmek for President
By Adam Rex

I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t wait!  A sequel to one of my favorite books (and my favorite audio book of all time) The True Meaning of Smekday

Tip and J.Lo are apparently back for another hilarious intergalactic adventure, getting their former car/now spaceship Slushious out of mothballs and heading to New Boovworld to clear J.Lo’s name.  But with J.Lo dubbed Public Enemy Number One and Captain Smek out to capture him to prove his worth as the future president, it won’t be as easy as they thought.

The True Meaning of Smekday has been adapted into a film coming out this year called Home.  Read the book or listen to the audio book before you see the film though.  There’s no way it can be anywhere near as good!

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If you want more information on these books, or if you want a different new book to read, visit the library and ask a librarian for help.

As always, Happy Reading!

::Kelly::

 

February Vacation at the Library!

We have two special programs this week:

baby signing 4

 

and

 

jeannie mack winter 15

 

Both programs are drop-ins, free and open to the public.  They’re best suited for preschoolers, but if you have early elementary age kids and are looking for something to do, you’re more than welcome to join us!

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And don’t forget, this is a VACATION CRAFT WEEK!

Come into the Library from opening until 30 minutes before closing, and make a Paper Rocket!  All ages, all skill levels.

Happy Vacation!

::Kelly::