Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Year of Audiobooks

Adolescent Audio Adventures began on February 25, 2011. I wanted to share my joy of audiobooks with others who enjoy listening to books. It's been a full year and it's time to stock of all the books I heard over the year. Let's break it down...

Juvenile Fiction [estimated trt: 7 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes]
Leaving the Bellweathers
Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid on Westminster
The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity
The Ghostwriter Secret
Lulu and the Brontosaurus
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
The Candy Shop Wars
Abby Carnelia's One and Only Magical Power
Bless This Mouse
100 Cupboards
A Tale Dark and Grimm
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Peter Pan
The Emerald Atlas
The Candymakers
Secrets of a Civil War Submarine
No Passengers Beyond This Point
Fear Itself
Rise of the Evening Star
Grip of the Shadow Plague
Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
Keys to the Demon Priso
Murder at Midnight 
The Hidden Gallery
Brown Bear & Friends 
The Unwanteds
Operation Yes
It Happened on a Train
Son of Neptune
The Flint Heart
The Sixty-Eight Rooms

Young Adult [trt:  20 hours, 32 minutes]
Death Cloud

Adult [trt: 16 hours, 2 minutes]
The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

Over 30 books and over 200 hours of audiobook excellence. Trips back and forth to work will never be the same. I am looking forward to another year of amazing audio adventures. What was your favorite audiobook last year? What book are looking forward to hear this year?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Brown Bear & Friends

Brown Bear & FriendsBrown Bear & Friends by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle
Brown Bear & Friends features the four wildly popular bear stories by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle. I would recommend reading the books and enjoying the vibrant illustrations before listening to these audiobooks. This compilation is read by Gwyneth Paltrow.

According to the back cover description, the audiobook only includes four picture books. The listener is in for a few surprises! After Gwyneth Paltrow shares her versions of Brown Bear, Polar Bear, Panda Bear and Baby Bear, Adriana Sananes shares each story in Spanish! Even if you are not familiar with Spanish, Sananes shares an excellent retelling. Following the eight stories, Macmillan Audio includes Bill Martin Jr. reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear and then an interview with Eric Carle.

I was greatly disappointed by the description on the back of Brown Bear & Friends. Only Paltrow is credited to reading and with a description of "Academy Award winning actress and mother." I thought the description was poorly stated. She won awards and she's a mother! With those accreditation, it clearly makes her an appropriate narrator. I understand descriptions need to by eye catching and informative, but it rankles me when writers throw in information that seems to justify why they chose one person over another.

Paltrow's versions include music underneath each book while she soothingly shares each tale. Her voice would be welcome for young listeners. The stories would also be gentle stories before bedtime.

Adriana Sananes shares dynamic retellings of the bear books. I know a smattering of Spanish so it was really interesting to see what I could understand and follow. Music was not included underneath her audio tracks. I would be interested to hear her entertain again.

Bill Martin Jr's recording was great. I love to hear author's read their own work, because they will read it as they picture it in their head. It's a special treat.

Finally, the interview with Eric Carle was very informative. I wish it could have been longer, but then the cd would have ran over an hour. Oh, well. I would recommend this audiobook to librarians and teachers. It is very versatile with English stories, Spanish stories and an illustrator interview.

Paltrow's versions - 3/5
Sananes' versions - 4/5
Martin's version - 4/5
Carle interview - 5/5

Reviewed from a library copy.

Stephanie also reviews this audiobook at's blog Vox Daily.
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