Friday, August 10, 2012

Three Great Audiobooks to Top Off Your Summer

I love good audiobooks. The best audiobooks help me to multitask--I read as I cook, fold laundry, clean up around my apartment, or drive. I love that I can get through several juvenile audiobooks in a relatively short span of time, and I simultaneously stay up-to-date on children's titles while storing away title names for audiobook readers' advisory interviews. Here are three fantastic audiobooks to top off your summer, all funny and featuring male protagonists.

Look, Lenore. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things. Read by Everette Plen. Listening Library, 123 minutes unabridged.
     Alvin Ho is about to start the second grade, which would be fine if it weren't for the fact that he's afraid of school. He's so afraid that he cannot speak at all from the moment he steps off the school bus, which results in some amount of misfortune and teasing. Alvin Ho is also afraid of girls, which is unfortunate because his deskmate is Flea, short for Sophie, who is a girl--which is still bad even if she's a girl with a really cool eye patch. Needless to say, young Alvin Ho has a lot to deal with, from school and friends and family to the psychotherapist he sees because of his fear-induced mute episodes to the old lady down the street who gives piano lessons. Alvin encounters all sorts of average and hilarious situations that gradeschoolers will recognize, if not from their own experience then from that of their friends. This laugh-out-loud title is read perfectly by young actor Everette Plen, who gives Alvin Ho just the voice Look's story showcases. Alvin Ho features in several books in the series bearing his name.

Angleberger, Tom. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Read by Mark Turetsky, Greg Steinbruner, Jonathan Todd Ross, Julia Gibson, and Charlotte Parry. Recorded Books, 135 minutes unabridged.
     Main narrator Tommy has taken it upon himself to create a case file pertaining to incidents involving Origami Yoda--the origami rendering of Yoda that fellow sixth-grader Dwight wears on his finger and who dispenses Jedi-worthy advice to all who ask. Tommy and his classmates recount all of the instances in which they consulted Origami Yoda and discuss the results, and Tommy and his friend Harvey weigh in after each episode, giving a great structure to the series of first-person accounts of Origami Yoda's mysterious powers. Angleberger's characters are well-developed and their voices spot on, and the humor that pervades this often touching school story is outstanding. The use of multiple readers adds to the authenticity of the audiobook, as the listener really begins to feel the different kids emerge as their own unique selves. The Origami Yoda series continues with Darth Paper Strikes Back and the just-released The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.

Hiaasen, Carl. Chomp. Read by James Van Der Beek. Listening Library, 371 minutes unabridged.
     Wahoo Cray isn't your average kid on his summer vacation. His father is a professional animal wrangler, and this summer Wahoo and his dad are hired to provide animal help for a popular reality tv show called Expedition Survival! The Crays need the money, so despite the tv studios controlling demands--and the even more annoying and needy star of the show, Derek Badger--they accept the job and all that comes with it. After a near-fatal run-in with Alice, the Crays' alligator, the foolhardy Derek Badger decides to film the rest of the Everglades episode out in the actual Everglades. With the Crays along for the shoot accompanied by a school friend of Wahoo's, things begin to spiral deeper and deeper into potentially-deadly chaos. After everything goes wrong, Wahoo's only hope for escape from a deranged tv survivalist, his friend's gun-toting drunk dad, and the natural threats of the Everglades is his own determination and skill. Wahoo is a great main character, and while Van Der Beek's narration isn't always consistent, Hiaasen's great writing carries the whole audiobook.

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