64 Booklist Aptil 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
operatic, Bennett’s performance is realistically
sensuous. —Karen Toonen
Ever the Hunted.
By Erin Summerill. Read by Helen Johns.
2016. 11.5hr. Dreamscape, CD, $39.99
(9781520032047). Gr. 9–12.
Britta is starving and alone after the death
of her father when she’s caught poaching in
the king’s forest. But rather than put her to
death, the king’s second-in-command offers
to spare Britta if she can capture her father’s
alleged killer, Cohen (her father’s apprentice
and Britta’s crush). In her quest, she realizes
that Cohen has been framed, and her father’s
murder was just a small part in a complicated
political conflict fueled by powerful magic.
Although the plot and world building in this
fantasy novel are not particularly fresh, Johns’
engaging and melodious performance elevates
the story and makes for a compelling listening
experience. She creates an atmospheric air and
particularly captures the romantic tension between Britta and Cohen. Her animated and
spirited reading allows the listener to connect
to the characters. Fans of fantasy romance will
not be disappointed. —Molly Wetta
Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary
Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case.
By Patricia Powell. Read by Adenrele Ojo
and MacLeod Andrews.
2017. 3hr. Dreamscape, CD, $39.99 (9781520052625).
This powerful documentary novel in verse
explores the landmark 1967 civil rights case
Loving v. Virginia, which took on pre–Civil
War interracial marriage laws in Virginia. The
nonrhyming free verse using two first-person
narrators creates a poignant and moving dialogue as the two grow from teenagers to adults
who court, fall in love, have children, and wish,
above all else, to live together freely as husband
and wife. Ojo voices Millie with a shy and soft
Southern voice that’s appealing as well as resolute as Millie encounters prejudice, is arrested,
and is forced to live without her husband. Andrews’ deep tones for Richard display a range
of emotions as he struggles with his love, his
arrest, and the fear of the sheriff and the law.
Their conversation explores joy, sadness, longing, and triumph, as finally, on June 12, 1967,
their case is won, and they are allowed to live
together as a married couple. —Lolly Gepson
The Matchstick Castle.
By Keir Graff. Read by Michael Crouch.
2017. 7hr. Listening Library, CD, $40 (9781524749866).
Brian’s dream of spending summer vaca-
tion playing soccer is upended when his father
leaves him with his uncle, who insists Brian
spend long hours using educational software.
Crouch’s insipidly chipper voicing of the com-
puter highlights the horror of Brian’s overly
academic summer. But everything changes
when Brian meets the resident of the neighbor-
ing, ramshackle estate. Never having gone to
school, Cosmo leads an unstructured, mini-
mally supervised life of daring exploits. Crouch
captures Brian’s youthful hunger for adven-
ture and wonder at the Matchstick Castle as
compared to Cosmo’s matter-of-fact cool in
outlandish situations. He gives Brian’s ec-
centric uncles distinct voices matching their
unique personalities, from the hermit novelist
to the globe-trotting thrill seeker. Crouch paces
the perilous rescues and bold heist flawlessly.
Reminiscent of an updated Pippi Longstocking,
this tale of bored, overscheduled suburban kids
discovering outlandish adventure is fun and
would make a great summer road-trip listen
for the whole family. —Amanda Blau
By Ananda Braxton-Smith. Read by Lucy
2016. 6hr. Dreamscape, CD, $39.99 (9781520045863).
Growing up by the sea in a remote part of
Carrick Island, Neen Marrey is surrounded by
stories and rumors, many about her deceased
father and missing mother, rumored to have
turned into a merrow (a mermaid). At 12,
Neen is caught between childhood and adulthood, reality and fables. Her dreamlike sense
of reality permeates Brownhill’s fanciful, engrossing narration of Braxton-Smith’s lyrical
prose. At first, the narrative is almost exclusively Neen’s youthful but wry introspection,
punctuated by occasional conversation. But as
she investigates her family’s complicated history, she forges stronger connections to those
closest to her, including her aunt Ushag. At
first, Ushag speaks to Neen in brusque, disapproving tones—and only when absolutely
necessary. By the end, though, emerging from
her grief-stricken isolation, she bubbles over
with words and life. Brownhill keeps the listener emotionally connected to each moment
of Neen’s journey through grief, anger, resentment, laughter, and joy. —Lizzie Matkowski
The Unintentional Adventures of the
Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina.
By Kara LaReau. Read by Rosalyn Landor.
2016. 3hr. Dreamscape, CD, $39.99 (9781520047195).
Jaundice and Kale Bland are content to
live their lives darning socks and perusing
Dr. Nathaniel Snoote’s Illustrated Children’s
Dictionary. However, the sisters’ dull routine
is thrown into turmoil when pirates abduct
them. Unintentionally dragged into nautical
adventures, Jaundice and Kale scrub the ship’s
deck and help the cook, eventually discovering
what happened to their missing parents. In a
rich English accent, Landor’s animated narration delightfully contrasts with the gentle,
timid voices she uses for the Bland sisters. To
highlight the boldness and otherness of the
all-female pirate crew, she grumbles and barks
orders deep in her throat. Landor delivers
tongue-in-cheek lines genuinely, making every
joke twice as amusing. Each chapter begins
with a relevant vocabulary word, part of speech,
and definition, which reflects the sisters’ love
of Dr. Snoote’s dictionary and may appeal to
Lemony Snicket fans. A fun, witty romp that
will engage clever tweens. —Biz Hyzy
By Walter Dean Myers. Read by JD Jackson.
2005. 8.5hrs. Recorded Books, CD, $69.97 (9781419332180). Gr. 7–12.
Written in 1988 but not recorded until 2005, Myers’ Vietnam-set coming-of-age story is a timeless tale of young men and war.
Jackson’s wonderfully effective narra-
tion creates a you-are-there soundscape
in which listeners participate in
Richie Perry’s perilous year in Viet-
nam. When his dreams of college
are dashed, Perry volunteers for the
army. He was to have had a desk job
because of a medical issue but ended
up on the front lines, where he joins a cross section of young
men whose tours of duty consist of days of boredom—bad food, insects, seemingly useless
patrols—interspersed with intense battles. Jackson channels the bright and introspective
Richie, adjusting his voice as he matures from a naive recruit to a decorated veteran. Jackson
never rushes a line and intensifies the emotional impact of Richie’s thoughts and actions as
he confronts doubts about his involvement in the war and sees friends killed and wounded
in battle. Myers has created a cast of authentic characters, and Jackson’s performance depicts
them vividly, along with the realistic, jargon-filled language. Substitute the jungles of Nam
for the deserts of the Middle East, and this could be the young men soldiering today—or in
myriad previous wars. A haunting, thoughtful novel that still speaks to listeners. (See p. 57
for our 2005 review of the print version.) —Joyce Saricks
YA Audio Classics Highlighting recordings from 50 years of YA novels.
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