A graphic novel translated to audio has to work overtime to convey not only the words, but also the illustrations. Undaunted, audiobook producers are using all the tools in their toolbox — versatile narrators, realistic sound effects, dramatic music — to bring entire illustrated worlds to life in audio. Here are a few examples of truly immersive listening experiences that won’t make you miss the illustrations at all.
AWESOME MAN: THE MYSTERY INTRUDER
by Michael Chabon, read by Michael Chabon
Harper Audio, Ages 4-6
Author/narrator Michael Chabon strikes just the right tone for a young superhero who is ricocheting between awesomeness and insecurity. Awesome Man fears he'll be forgotten when his new baby brother arrives. Chabon switches from petulant to excited and then tender when he finally meets his new brother, Captain Stinky.
NARWHAL AND JELLY: Books 1-5
by Ben Clanton, read by Socks Whitmore, Kirby Heyborne, Ben Clanton, Ron Butler, Dion Graham, JD Jackson, Rachel L. Jacobs, and a Full Cast
Listening Library, Ages 6+
Sound effects and bouncy music create a cartoony mood. Squeaky-voiced Socks Whitmore presents Narwal, and Kirby Heyborne portrays Jelly, a jellyfish full of wonder and questioning. A full cast presents secondary characters who range from a sighing starfish who wants to be in the sky to a grumbling crab.
THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH
by Max Brallier, read by Robbie Daymond
Listening Library, Ages 8+
In this highly entertaining audiobook, narrator Robbie Daymond captivates listeners with his energetic portrayal of the adventure-seeking Jack Sullivan, a 13-year-old survivor of the zombie apocalypse. Dirk, Rover, and other oddly named monsters are added to mix, establishing a wide cast of human, and not-so-human voices, which Daymond impeccably delivers.
by Jerry Craft, read by Nile Bullock, Jesus Del Orden, Guy Lockard, Marc Thompson, Peyton Lusk, Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, January LaVoy, Phoebe Strole, Jordan Cobb, A.J Beckles, Robin Miles, Ron Butler, Miles Harvey, Kim Mai Guest, Kyla Garcia, Soneela Nankani
Harper Audio, Ages 10+
Listeners will delight in being back with their friends from NEW KID and hearing about the ups and downs of eighth grade from multiple points of view. Jordan is excited but nervous to be back in school, and Jesus Del Orden's bright voice matches Jordan's sweet and observant personality. Subtle sound effects and lively voices from a full cast help listeners imagine the bustling hallways as Jordan navigates the minefield of racist microaggressions, colorism, crushes, and rocky friendships.
by Brenna Bard, read by Cassandra Morris, Dan Bittner, Matt Braver, Orlagh Cassidy, Cynthia Farrell, Maxwell Glick, Katie Koster, Tara Sands, Marc Thompson
Scholastic Audio, Ages 8+
Sound effects and a full cast create an immersive audio experience. While vacationing at her family’s lake house, 13-year-old bookworm Gabby decides to write a mystery story about the old, empty house nearby that's at the center of a celebrity disappearance. When her rebellious neighbor Paige pushes Gabby to trespass on the property to hunt for clues, Gabby has to decide how far she is willing to go to uncover a story.
by Victoria Jamieson, read by Almarie Guerra and a Full Cast
Listening Library, Ages 10+
Full of the best kind of punk-rock energy, narrator Almarie Guerra and a full cast take listeners on a rollicking ride around the roller derby track. This much loved graphic novel comes to life with bright voices and sound effects, including tumbles, bottles of hair dye, and lots of roller skates. See also the Odyssey Honor Award-winning WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED.