Archive for Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Engaging audio books entertain children on road trips

June 26, 2007

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What makes a book great? Characters you care about? Exotic, fascinating settings? Plots with so many twists and turns that you can't figure out what's coming next?

Great audio books for family storytime or a long car trip: "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane," by Kate DiCamillo; "Skulduggery Pleasant," by Derek Landy; "A Pizza the Size of the Sun," by Jack Prelutsky, and "On the Wings of Heroes," by Richard Peck.

Great audio books for family storytime or a long car trip: "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane," by Kate DiCamillo; "Skulduggery Pleasant," by Derek Landy; "A Pizza the Size of the Sun," by Jack Prelutsky, and "On the Wings of Heroes," by Richard Peck.

All of those are key elements that keep you reading. But if the goal is to keep you listening, a book needs to do more.

KidsPost has listened to a bunch of audio books (you can get them on CD or tape at many public libraries or download them from the Internet). All of the titles you see here are great books to read, but they made our list of recommended audio books because each has something that makes listening especially fun.

Listen to these by yourself (with headphones) or, better yet, as a family. If you're traveling by car, you can use the next bathroom break to talk about what might happen next.

"The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane"

By Kate DiCamillo

Read by Judith Ivey

About 2 hours

For the entire family

This magical story of the life of a toy bunny and his effect on the people he meets is bound to be enjoyed by kids and adults for years to come. Ivey does a great job of bringing to life the very different characters that Edward comes across, and the end is nothing short of miraculous.

"Skulduggery Pleasant," by Derek Landy

Read by Rupert Degas

About 7 1/2 hours

Ages 9 and older

This is the story of a detective who also happens to be a skeleton - which should give you the sense that it's creepy and funny at the same time. The clever use of eerie music and demonic laughter at the start of each chapter sets the tone. The reading-of-the-will scene on the first disc will have you in tears - of laughter.

"On the Wings of Heroes," by Richard Peck

Read by Lincoln Hoppe

About 3 1/4 hours

Ages 8 and older

This account of what life was like on the home front during World War II seems as old-fashioned as lemonade on the front porch on a summer evening. Davy Bowman and his family must cope with the shortages of war and the fear that comes with having a loved one, Davy's brother Bill, assigned as a crewman on a B-17 bomber. The story will make you appreciate your family, even if you've just been fighting because you've been cooped up in the van for eight hours.

"A Pizza the Size of the Sun"

By Jack Prelutsky

Read by the author

About an hour

For the entire family

Poet Prelutsky has put some of his rhymes to music, and the result is a delight. Try not to chuckle at the "Eyeballs for Sale" poem.

"Walk Two Moons," by Sharon Creech

Read by Hope Davis

About 5 1/2 hours

Ages 10 and older

This is a great book made even better by Davis' magnificent reading. Once she starts telling how Salamanca Tree Hiddle, a 13-year-old American Indian girl, is going to cross the country with her grandparents in search of her mother, it's almost impossible to stop listening. The story is funny - imagine being in a car with your grandparents for eight days.

"Monster," by Walter Dean Myers

Read by a full cast

About 2 1/2 hours

Ages 12 and older

The audio version of this story about a black teenager on trial for killing someone during a robbery is unusual because nearly 20 actors have speaking parts. As a result, it's more like listening to a TV show than an audio book. It makes for great listening and probably will inspire much conversation, but because of the subject matter, it's definitely for older listeners.

"Tales From the Odyssey," by Mary Pope Osborne

Read by James Simmons

About 8 hours

For the entire family

This collection of six famous stories from Homer's "Odyssey" is filled with tales of the Trojan horse, the one-eyed giant and sea monsters. Because there are just a half-dozen stories, they are manageable in length for everyone. Osborne gives listeners a little background on the "Odyssey" before allowing Simmons, a British actor, to take over.

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