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Archive for the category “Audiobooks”

I’m back….finally!

Last-Stop-Medals    51VWEvDVrkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg images-1.jpeg  51p6slAmTyL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Here it is July 21st and I am finally getting around to blogging once again. I have been posting about some outstanding books on Facebook but, in the end, I think it is worthwhile opening this blog back up.

If not for anything else than to talk about my extraordinary experience on Newbery. I have posted the winner above followed by the three honors in no particular order. You should read or listen to each and every one of them right away! Interesting that I point out listening because two of the Newbery Honor winners walked away with Odyssey Awards as well! The War That Saved My Life, read by Jayne Entwistle (narrator extraordinaire), won the main award and the multi-voiced Echo won the Honor. Echo stands out for the harmonica music (see below) that flows in and out throughout the book as well as marvelous narrators. Both were absolutely extraordinary!

As you can see, our committee chose a picture book, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De la Pena, as the Newbery winner. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the book has spectacular art by Christian Robinson either. I have heard some chatter about the appropriateness of a picture book for the Newbery but I should point out that the age range for Newbery consideration is 0-14. That is quite an age span, isn’t it? In addition, picture books have won before. Does that surprise you? Two that come to mind are Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson in 2006 and Nancy Willard for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers in 1982.

And what about that crazy year when The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick won the 2008 Caldecott Award? I think looking outside the box is a good thing. Of course, I served on that committee as well. 🙂

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is an astonishing read (there is no one I have given it to that hasn’t loved it, truth to tell) set during WWII in London during the Blitzkrieg. Ada has a club foot and is unable to leave her flat to go to school or see her little corner of the world up close. Her mother is a nightmare but it is actually the evacuation of children to the countryside that changes the course of Ada’s young life. The road is diffcult, to be sure, but the journey is so worth reading.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan was amazing as well. It’s also set during the WWII era and focuses on three different children whose lives are altered by the war. Believe it or not, the story connects these characters by a harmonica. Who would have thought it! The harmonica starts off in Germany at the factory where it is made and played by a young boy, Friedrich, living in fear of persecution. It next appears with two boys in an orphanage in Pennsylvania. Mike becomes entranced with the harmonica and hopes it will help him earn money to keep his brother safe. Ivy Lopez moves around a lot in California following the crops that need to be tended to. Ultimately they find themselves caring for a small farm whose owners are incarcerated at a Japanese Internment camp. The interconnectivity of the plot provides cliffhangers that will keep any young reader engaged.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is in a category all its own. It’s a coming of age story that follows Astrid as she realizes that she and her best friend are growing apart. Nicole loves ballet and Astrid follows her lead. But when Astrid’s mother takes them to a roller derby match, Astrid is hooked? What happens to the friendship? Can we change and still be friends? Astrid works her rear end off all summer learning roller derby and while she finds that it has its challenges, she loves it. Kudos to the author for not making her the best at it and tying it all up in a bow at the end. All this, by the way, in a graphic novel format. The cover alone sells this novel and the what’s in between the cover dazzles.

Now we are all on to reading the next great books and I already have some great ones to share with you. More soon!


The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

The main character in this audio (and book!), Violet, is so well drawn, so smart, and so likable that you are pulled into her story immediately.
Violet never met her father because he died in a car accident months before she was born. She knows little about him and has never met any of his relations. What she does know is he was African-American and she knows that her own skin reflects that heritage. Violet lives in a small town where she sticks out as the only biracial child. She wishes she looked more like her Mom or her older sister just so she’d fit in. Now 11 years-old, Violet begins to ask about her Dad and why it is her grandmother on that side has never reached out to her. Her questions lead to her meeting her grandmother and ultimately realizing she doesn’t stick out – she’s Violet Diamond. This audio was wonderful. The narrator did a great job with the varied voices and every bit of it sounded real. This book and/or audio is terrific for biracial children who feel like they don’t belong anywhere when, in fact, they belong everywhere. This is a great story for children ages 8-12 and such a good example of a child looking for who she is when it was in front of her all the time. I loved it!


The Scar Boys (audio) by Len Vlahos

This audio is definitely a “driveway” audio if there ever was one. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it is used for an audio that you cannot turn off when you reach home. You have to sit in the car and get to the end of the chapter at the very least. This is the story of Harry who as a young boy was bullied in such a way that his tormentors tied him to a tree and left him there despite a thunder storm rumbling in the distance. When the ferocious storm passed through, Harry’s tree was hit by lightning and burned. Harry’s mother found him passed out, ablaze, and still tied to the tree. When we meet him, Harry is writing his college essay which is the conceit throughout the book. He brings us up to speed on what has happened to him between the ages of 9 and 19. The essay becomes an entire bio and completely pulls you in. As a teen Harry joins a rock band called The Scar Boys (named after himself) and his love for classic rock is seen throughout the book. Each chapter begins with the name of a song, who wrote it, and who performed it. The reader/listener can’t help but identify with this damaged boy who is trying to find his way in life. The narration was completely authentic. Get this one – you won’t be disappointed.


Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Audio)

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Audio)

Life has changed for Piddy Sanchez. Her decrepit apartment building gets so bad that Mama decides to move them across town. Yaqui ends up at a new school with some rough characters including a bullying Latina girl with a violent streak named Yaqui Delgado. Piddy doesn’t know why Yaqui has decided to torment her but the torment ends with a physical attack on Piddy that is filmed and put up on the internet. Piddy feels all alone in this new neighborhood and school and her best friend from the old neighborhood has moved away. This once straight A student with enormous potential is slowly falling between the cracks. Will she rat Yaqui out or try to fly under the radar. This is a strong audiobook with a strong story of mother-daugter relationships, inner city gangs, tough girls and bullying.

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