February 15, 2016 Booklist 103 www.booklistonline.com
young voice with enthusiasm as he reacts to the
evocative story of humor, love, and heartbreak.
Resau reads the author’s note at the end, explaining the inspiration for her story of these
two marginalized cultures. —Lolly Gepson
Ms. Marvel: No Normal.
By G. Willow Wilson. Read by Full Cast.
2015. 1.5hrs. GraphicAudio, CD, $15.99 (9781628511918).
Unbeknownst to her strict Pakistani parents,
brainy, self-deprecating New Jersey teen Kamala Khan sneaks out to a party on a Friday night.
It’s here where, after a dense fog rolls through
and the Avengers speak to her in a dreamlike
world, Kamala discovers that she’s suddenly a
lifesaving superhero. The GraphicAudio version of the comic makes it easy to not miss
the actual book’s visuals: the audio seamlessly
adds narration describing characters’ outfits
and expressions as well as Kamala’s vast, confusing, and rapid shift into Ms. Marvel. Some
aspects of the story work even better this way,
as we discover Kamala’s transformation to
Ms. Marvel at the same time she does, without the ability to see ahead. The many-voiced
narration, crashing background sounds, and
pulse-pounding score lend themselves perfectly, too, to the comic book’s longer action
sequences. If placed anywhere near the right
hands, this one will sell itself to fans and fans-to-be of this new and exciting superhero.
The Odds of Getting Even.
By Sheila Turnage. Read by Lauren
2015. 8hr. Listening Library, CD, $45 (9781101892411).
When a crime spree begins in small-town
Tupelo Landing, everyone suspects Dale’s
no-good daddy, who just busted out of jail.
Dale, Mo, and Harm, of the Desperado
Detective Agency, have their doubts, however, and follow the clues to solve the case.
Award-winning author Turnage has crafted
a fast-paced mystery that is underpinned
with tender moments and a wicked sense of
humor. Fortgang’s accents place the listener
in North Carolina without an over-the-top
southern twang. She develops distinct voices
for the varied cast, from theatrical, Charles-ton-loving Miss Lana to exasperated teacher
Miss Retzyl. Fortgang’s narration is spot-on,
whether reading a character’s contemplative
internal struggles or an exhilarating escape
from a raging fire. She portrays sarcasm with
a subtlety that increases its humor. The main
character is asked whether she’d rather tell
the truth or be kind. This audiobook manages both: well-developed characters that ring
true and friendships that make it endearingly
kind. —Amanda Blau
A Step toward Falling.
By Cammie McGovern. Read by
Amanda Wallace and Ashley Clements.
2015. 10.5hr. Harper, DD, $24.99 (9780062395900).
Though Emily cares deeply about social
Make ‘Em Laugh: Short-Term Memories of
justice, she can’t bring herself to intervene
when Belinda, a classmate with intellectual
disabilities, is attacked at a football game.
Belinda ultimately fights off her attacker,
rescuing herself. Emily is assigned commu-
nity service with Lucas, a football player
who similarly de-
while Belinda is
shaken and unsure
about her future,
trying to make
sense of the event
in a vacuum. Just as
the narration in the novel alternates between
the girls, each of their distinctive voices
comes through in their treatments by Wal-
lace and Clements. Clements, who voices
Emily, is able to bring forth the character’s
social fears through the clipped edge in her
dialogue. Wallace, voicing Belinda, elevates
her pitch and uses a slightly slower pace,
playing up Belinda’s naïveté while bringing
forth her acerbic side and remaining ut-
terly respectful to her completely realistic
emotional responses. Belinda is noted as
an actor—a trait that plays into the novel’s
denouement—and Wallace plays up that tal-
ent, as each character Belinda describes has
a specific sound, from her grandma to each
of the friends in her special-needs classroom.
This is a moving novel and a joy to listen to.
By Debbie Reynolds and Dorian Hannaway.
Read by Judith Ivey.
2015. 6hr. Harper, DD, $18.99 (9780062424068).
In this follow-up to her 2012 memoir, Unsinkable, Reynolds reminisces about her
life and especially about her long-lasting friendships with some of Hollywood’s greatest
stars, including Ava Gardner, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, and even
Elizabeth Taylor. She intersperses funny (and sometimes bawdy) anecdotes about her
career in movies and her recent stage shows with humorous and often touching recollections of friends. Narrator Ivey does an excellent job matching Reynolds’ voice, cadence,
and inflections. She captures the memoir’s friendly, informal, conversational tone and
makes listeners feel as if they’re sitting with Debbie having coffee—or, more likely, a
stiff drink—and she’s sharing her favorite memories. Although Ivey isn’t as successful a
mimic as Reynolds (who does Mae West to a T), she immerses listeners in the world of
Debbie Reynolds, a great entertainer and a genuinely nice person, in this candid and
warmhearted memoir. —Joyce Saricks
Pretty Good Jokes Live!
By Garrison Keillor. Read by the author and others.
2015. 2hr. HighBridge, CD, $24.95 (9781622318674).
Fans of Keillor’s popular Prairie Home Companion weekly radio program are familiar
with the annual “Joke Show.” Others should be prepared to be amused by the rapid-fire delivery of one-liners from Keillor and his crew, performed before live audiences on
January 22, 2011 (disc 1), and November 1, 2014 (disc 2). Jokes are grouped by theme—
“Bostonians, Blondes, and Bovines,” for example—and liner notes on the case identify
the performers for each set. Every Prairie Home Companion show features music, and here
it has been chosen to fit the humor theme. There are also extended skits, like the riff on
Frankenstein, with the good doctor rejecting his creation because he tells such bad jokes.
“The Lives of the Cowboys” episode offers a limerick showdown, and “Guy Noir, Private
Eye” suffers through bad stand-up comedy on open-mike night. A pleasant couple of
hours of diversion for fans and newbies alike. —Joyce Saricks
My Teacher Is an Alien.
By Bruce Coville. Read by Nancy O’Connor and Full Cast.
2015. 2.5hr. Full Cast, CD, $9.99 (9781933322865). Gr. 4–7.
Author Coville and his producer, Full Cast Audio, bring all the pleasures of a full-cast
performance to this new recording of his amusing 1989 novel. Susan Simmons returns
from spring break to find her beloved teacher missing under mysterious circumstances,
and the replacement is so strict that he’s sucked all the joy from sixth grade. When her
sleuthing uncovers that he is really an alien with plans to abduct some of her classmates,
she schemes to stop him. O’Connor shines as Susan, speaking in a youthful voice that
perfectly captures the girl’s frustration, curiosity, and intelligence. She and the other
cast members (identified at the end of disc 2) accurately depict these students and their
emotions—including true fear as the adventure unfolds. Brief musical passages, often
appropriately creepy, open the chapters, and the audio ends with a jaunty song. The animated performances are sure to please a new generation of listeners. —Joyce Saricks
LAUGHING OUT LOUD