Jorjeana Marie's youthful voice is the first plus in this audiobook for beginning novel readers. The second is her portrayal of quirky 9-year-old Ella, the liveliest resident of a small San Francisco apartment house. Marie captures Ella's blend of annoying know-it-all qualities and friendly willingness to help her neighbors. While Ella takes center stage in the story, Marie... Read More
Grace Capeless narrates Miller's picture book about the many ways a person can be strong. The young protagonist, a child of color with black, textured curls in Jen Hill's illustrations, doesn't have the physical strength to get to the top of the gym climbing wall. But family members point out that being strong can also mean "showing up" (for friends in need), "speaking up" (for... Read More
Ellie sees a shadowy boy in the window as she, her mother, and her brother move into Inchwood Manor. When she searches for the room where she saw the ghostly boy, she finds a magical antique nursery. Sally Millest masterfully presents contemporary and Victorian voices and vocabulary as this story moves between Victorian and contemporary England. Ellie is spooked by... Read More
Young listeners enchanted by the holiday magic of DASHER will be delighted with this audiobook sequel, narrated once again by Laural Merlington. Impatient for the arrival of the night before Christmas, reindeer Dasher secretly flies off to experience the sounds and lights of holiday celebrations. But when a snowstorm delays her return, she must rely on a child's unique gift to... Read More
Narrator Irene Bedard--who is of Iñupiaq, Yu'pik, Cree, and French Canadian heritage--brings vocal authenticity to Iñupiaq author/illustrator Nasugraq Rainey Hopson's debut novel. When a boy is kidnapped by a golden eagle who turns into a man, he is challenged to live, rather than die like his two older brothers. Adopting the sonorous delivery of an oral storyteller, Bedard... Read More
Gale Shalan breezily introduces the Lukshen Deli and its owners, the Glantz family. Listeners meet adorable 11-year-old Ellie, along with her family and friends, including her best friend, Ava. When the future of the deli is in question, heartbroken Ellie suggests making deliveries and creating a loyalty program. Shalan sympathetically conveys Ellie's fears as her beloved... Read More
Mac Barnett and illustrator Shawn Harris narrate their audiobook with abandon, further embellishing their quirky writing. Listeners meet the Moon Queen, who is poisoned by soup, giving her protector, the First Cat, the challenge of finding an antidote in 24 hours. Barnett and Harris excel at creating their own sound effects, adding fitting music that will evoke nostalgic... Read More
Alex Gino offers a warm, effervescent narration of their latest middle-grade audiobook. Nonbinary Green Gibson is a member of Jung Middle School's LGBTQIAP+ Rainbow Spectrum club. As the group excitedly prepares for the school's revamped production of THE WIZARD OF OZ, for which every actor can choose the gender of their character, Green contends with complicated feelings about... Read More
Janet Metzger's thoughtful presentation enhances this charming story set in a California houseboat community. Listeners meet 12-year-old Frankie, who's on probation for misbehaving in New Jersey. Standouts performances include the character Michael, who repeats everything after a skateboard accident, and former TV star Margie, who refers to herself in the third person and helps... Read More
Erin Tripp chronicles the scientific advancements of the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, or North America, in a matter-of-fact voice that complements the narrative. An introduction includes a note on pronunciations and word usage. Throughout each section, extra facts and information are shared, offering more context for the listener. As Tripp covers topics that range from... Read More
Sura Siu returns to narrate the second story in a delightful middle- grade fantasy series. Plum passed the test to stay on and train as a Guardian--a shape-shifting caretaker of the people and the land of the Santipap Islands. While Plum can transform into a deer-like roan and speaks to plants and animals, listeners hear her uncertainty when she discovers her true Guardian... Read More
Olivia Forrest, with a few words from author Eoin Colfer, charmingly narrates this magical story of Santa Claus. Grieving the loss of his wife, Santa is fed up with the greed and commercialization of Christmas. Instead of delivering presents, he decides to befriend the homeless. Juniper Lane, who is grieving for her dad, seeks to persuade Santa to resume delivering Christmas... Read More
Backed by snazzy, scratchy electronica, author-illustrator C.G. Esperanza raps an energetic ode to sneakers suspended from telephone wires. "Red kicks, green kicks, yellow kicks, blue./How'd they get up there? Only birds knew." Esperanza's execution of this refrain is so catchy that listeners will be chanting it with him by the end of this four-minute track. The sonic... Read More
Janina Edwards and Leon Nixon deliver the poems Weatherford composed as she journeyed, literally and figuratively, to understand her family history. In particular, she renders how its power and continuity were interrupted by the horrors of enslavement by the Lloyd family on their Maryland plantation. Both narrators are dedicated to emphasizing line breaks and carefully chosen... Read More
Adan Rocha narrates a story of self-discovery set in Florida during the COVID-19 lockdown. Eleven-year-old Lalo is confined to his apartment; he attends video school with a neighboring classmate while his widowed mother works long hours as a nursing assistant. On top of the pervasive fear and boredom of lockdown, Lalo struggles to remember both recent events and his father, who... Read More
Christopher Lee narrates this short picture book filled with Lunar New Year traditions. Gege has secretly made a present for his little sister, but there are so many activities to celebrate that he can't find the right time to surprise her. Lee performs the story with the exaggerated emotions appropriate to children's storytelling. He leaves pauses at the end of sentences,... Read More
Carrie Coello's narration warmly welcomes listeners into the world of 12-year-old Dory Byrnes, adding additional appeal to her personality. Dory's mother is dead; her Pop is fighting in WWII. Fisher, her 17-year-old brother, is a loving guardian of Dory and their brilliant younger brother, Pike. Coello makes clear Fisher's frustrations at Dory's headstrong individualism and... Read More
Adjoa Andoh narrates this audiobook, which reveals how Christopher Robin and Pooh met their friends. Most listeners will know the characters and will likely have preconceived notions of how they should sound. Andoh's English-accented delivery keeps the spirit of the original Milne stories; however, her renditions of dialogue may not meet expectations. Eeyore speaks glumly in a... Read More
Actor Allan Corduner dazzles listeners with his spellbinding narration of this lovely fable. The first tale in a series called the Norendy Tales features a set of anthropomorphized puppets: a king, a wolf, a girl, and a boy. They belonged to a sea captain, and after his death they end up in the hands of two sisters. As the story unfolds, the puppets bicker with each other... Read More
Guy Lockard immediately convinces listeners of the passion of Black middle-schooler Lamar Phillips, whose biggest goal in life is to become a filmmaker. But how can that ever happen in his small Louisiana town, he asks in a dynamic dialogue with his best friend. Soon after, Lockard introduces Lamar's Gramps, whose convictions and activism shine as he takes Lamar to a city... Read More
Jacqueline Woodson renders her story's rhythms skillfully, emphasizing refrains that allow listeners to luxuriate in her words and linger in powerful details. Sage's father, a firefighter, died in a fire back in the "once was," but she thinks of him often. At the same time, her neighborhood has been experiencing so many mysterious fires that it's been renamed "The Matchbox."... Read More
Nora Hunter gives voice to the thoughts and signs of Mary, a young, deaf teacher. Hunter's prim and proper tone matches the period language and enhances the early postcolonial setting of this audiobook. Mary's island community is unique because deafness is commonplace, and all residents use sign language. Mary yearns to travel to study at the famous deaf school in Paris, but... Read More
Author and chef Eric Adjepong brings his personal experience to his narration of his picture book. As a first-generation Ghanaian American, Kofi is embarrassed to bring a familial dish to his class's annual cultural potluck. What he eats at home is so different from his classmates' dishes. With guidance from his nanabarima (grandfather) Kofi learns the stories behind his own... Read More
Mark Sanderlin captures the locales and accents of Texas, Kansas, and California. Listeners meet Deaf 13-year-old Scott Schroeder as he is shifted, yet again, to another "home" when his dad jets away to work in Japan. Motherless Scott feels imprisoned by his grandmother, who criticizes him often. Sanderlin is most touching when Scott befriends an abandoned dog he names Runt.... Read More
Almarie Guerra gently reinforces the line breaks of this novel in verse, but her emphasis is placed more strongly on its characters' emotions. Eleven-year-old Laura is sorting out a range of feelings as she copes with having been removed from her family. Guerra reflects Laura's discomfort and anger at being placed in the home of an aunt who never seemed to care about her... Read More
Narrator Sura Siu creates a youthful, determined voice for almost-seventh-grader Tessa--who is heading to Japan for the summer to visit her paternal grandparents after getting in trouble at her summer camp in San Francisco. Before leaving, Tessa was visited by a mysterious figure who gave her multiple warnings of imminent danger. With great zeal, Siu establishes unique voices... Read More
Almarie Guerra does a particularly good job of capturing the characters' feelings in this emotional story. She depicts Wendy's passion for science, as well as her reactions to her family's fear of friends disappearing because of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Guerra projects the nasty tones of cruel teasing and racially based bullying at Wendy's school for gifted... Read More
Acclaimed author Jason Reynolds nimbly narrates his celebration of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. Based on a picture of a real party in Hughes's honor at the Schomburg Center, this loving tribute is alive with rhythm. As Reynolds describes how Hughes excelled at making words dance to his tune, he makes his own words dance. He creates an irresistible feedback loop... Read More
Narrator Sunny Lu returns for the indomitable Mia Tang's fifth adventure. This time the 13-year-old goes to San Francisco for a winter-break journalism camp at a big-city newspaper. She, her mom, and her friends stay in Chinatown, embedding Mia and listeners in its rich history. Her racist editors have no interest in it, but, of course, Mia finds a way to make her voice heard.... Read More
Marisa Blake tells the story of Vlad, a vampire who covers up his rosy cheeks for fear of not being accepted by the other vampires, who revel in their pallor. With even pacing and great enthusiasm, Blake captures Vlad's tumultuous feelings as he uses his fashion skills to mask his secret. Ultimately, with the support of a friend, he finds self-acceptance. Dramatic music tying... Read More
Gurgles, drips, and the hiss of steam combine with a musical score to accompany Janina Edwards's accomplished narration of this poem about the water cycle. "Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. / Water is water unless . . . /it heats up." Her voice lingers with relish on the internal rhymes and onomatopoeia that carry listeners from page-turn to page- turn. End rhymes announce each... Read More
Former First Lady Michelle Obama narrates this fresh production of Maurice Sendak's classic story. Young Max, having been exiled to his room for behaving like a wild thing, sails away to become the king of all wild things. After leading his subjects in a Wild Rumpus, he decides to return home to his supper and someone who loves him best of all. Mrs. Obama's performance is... Read More
Ron Butler strikes the perfect balance as he narrates this middle-grade thriller set in the early days of the Covid pandemic. Valdez Jones VIII, known as Wrecker, is a biracial Key West teen with generations of seafaring ancestors skilled in diving and salvage. When he encounters suspected smugglers in a grounded speedboat, their fortunes intertwine dangerously. Smuggling,... Read More
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