I’ve been listening to a lot of recent books on CD in my car, and really enjoying them. It’s a great way to be introduced to a new author, or to enjoy an old favorite! Here are three audio CDs enjoyed over the last month.
* * *
The Night Fairy, written by Laura Amy Schlitz, narrated by Michael Friedman.
2 CDs, 2 hours.
Flory is a Night Fairy, flitting from flower to flower by the light of the moon. Until one night, when she tangles with a bat who crunches her wings. Now Flory is stranded in a human garden, stuck on the ground until her wings heal…IF they heal. With a lot of hard work and a little magic, she manages to turn a birdhouse her new home, and has to become, out of necessity, a Day Fairy.
But there are many new dangers in the day. If Flory is to survive, she must be brave. Without wings, that’s not easy. But there’s a hummingbird in her new garden, and Flory is sure that the beautiful bird can help her. But will she? And what about all the other inhabitants of the garden who are watching the new Day Fairy? There are dangers everywhere, but unexpected friends too. Will Flory regain her wings? Will she survive to live in the night again?
I loved the narration for this story. Michael Friedman (who is a female narrator, despite her name) has a wonderful range of voices. Every character sounds completely different; from brash Flory to a boisterous squirrel to a creepy spider. The language is rich, and it’s an altogether wonderful listening experience! Recommended for ages 6 and up (although there is a slightly scary scene with the spider and Flory.)
* * *
Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm. Read by Becca Battoe.
3 CDs, 3 Hours and 48 minutes.
Turtle is a girl with a problem, and it’s nothing like the things Shirley Temple or Little Orphan Annie have faced. Her mother, a housekeeper to a series of wealthy families in New Jersey, has been told that her daughter cannot live with her in her latest position. So Turtle and her cat are shipped off to live with her Aunt Minnie in Florida. Too bad Aunt Minnie had no idea they were coming.
Turtle’s arrival is a surprise for the whole family. Her cousins Bean, Kermit and Buddy (all boys!) aren’t very welcoming. It’s 1935, and adding an extra mouth to feed isn’t all that easy. But Aunt Minnie manages to squeeze Turtle and Smokey into the tiny house. As Turtle tries to figure out how to get along with her cousins, she learns that her mother hasn’t exactly been truthful about her past. The grandmother Turtle thought was dead lives right down the street. Once the meet, Turtle thinks she’s the meanest woman in the world, but they slowly start to develop a relationship. The Diaper Gang (cousins Bean and Kermit, along with their friend Slow Poke) don’t want to let her help with their babysitting business, but they’re willing to go treasure hunting with her.
Turtle manages to navigate her way through the Conch neighborhood and relationships of Key West in the Depression with her own unique voice.
The narration of this story is wonderful. It’s told in the first-person, by Turtle, and Becca Battoe manages to sound like a worldly, tired eleven year old. In fact, she reminded me quite a bit of Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon (if anyone out there has ever seen that film.) I love her voice, and I really enjoyed feeling like I was in the middle of the hot, dusty world of Florida in 1935.
There is an author’s note at the end of the book, complete with pictures of the real people who inspired parts of the story. If you listen to the audio, be sure to at least look at the book, to see what things and people really looked like. Recommended for all ages, although it will probably be enjoyed most by kids in grades four through seven.
* * *
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin. Read by Janet Song.
4 CDs, 4 Hours, 57 minutes
Minli lives in a grey valley, in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain. She works hard beside her parents and all the other people in the Valley, because barely anything grows there. What makes this life bearable, in Minli’s eyes, are the stories her father Ba tells about the magical beings and life outside the Valley. Ma though, is less than impressed with the stories. She’d rather have some real fortune, rather than the nonsense of stories.
When Minli spends one of the only two coins she possesses on a goldfish, her mother despairs. What are they to do with a goldfish, when they can barely feed three people? Minli realizes she is right, and sets out to release the fish into a nearby river. But when the goldfish talks to her, and tells Minli of a way to get the blessings of fortune for her family, Minli sets out on the adventure of a lifetime. Meeting dragons and kings, poor peasants and brave children, will Minli find fortune? Will her parents ever see their daughter again? Will Minli ever return home?
I love this story, and so much of that love is in the visual aspects of the book. It has wonderful illustrations (also by Grace Lin), and Minli’s journey is intertwined with the stories of the characters she meets, some that they’ve experienced and tome that they tell. When they tell these characters tell their stories, the font in the book changes, and the stories are noticeably different from Minli’s journey.
So although I very much enjoyed the narration, this book seems like one that needs to be experienced visually…at least when first encountered. So maybe read the book first, or listen to the audio with the book in hand. You really don’t want to miss the whole, perfect package! Recommended for families with children ages five and up.
* * *
So there you go. Three audio books for all ages to enjoy. Borrow one from the library today. And if you want more suggestions, you can always ask library staff!