Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Westly: A Spider's Tale

Are you a fan of bugs? Insects? Aracnids? I would highly recommend Westly: A Spider’s Tale.

Adolescent Audio Adventures reviews Westly: A Spider's Tale
Westly is the prince of butterflies. Westly and his caterpillar friends are ready to become butterflies. The butterflies hold a special ceremony for the cocoon creations as well as the big butterfly rebirth. Westly is ready to be a butterfly prince! He emerges from his cocoon to the horror of his fellow friends, family, and subjects. What is this? Who is this? Westly escapes the chandelier of the butterflies and jumps to the earth. The gardeners (bugs from below) take in Westly and he learns to become a useful member of their society. He also meets a raven who befriends him and teaches him about being a spider.

I was interested in Westly, because I kept seeing this title around the web and in magazines. Initially, I didn’t think much of the subject of bugs, but as I listened it gave me the creepy crawlies. It’s a book on bugs! Charlotte’s Web is about bugs, but I also read that book at a much younger age. I believe kids will love this book. There are not many chapter books about bugs and it’s well written with a nice array of insects in the menagerie. It was an excellent book about working together - as individuals as well as a group.  Working together helps everyone in the group and everyone in the group has a special talent to add to the group.

Ramon de Ocampo is the narrator for Westly. This is the first time I've heard Ramon de Ocampo. His voice (and character voices) fit well with the story. The book is juvenile fiction and he had a youthful voice for many of the characters. He differentiated well between characters. I also liked how the Mr. Raven was so oily. The raven was friendly, but you could hear that Mr. Raven had another goal in mind rather than just friendship. Well done! Yes, I would listen to Ramon de Ocampo again. 

Are you familiar with another buggy chapter book? Let me know! Leave a comment with the title and author below.

Reviewed from an Audiobook Jukebox copy. Thank you, Blackstone Audio!

Audio Book Details...
Westly: A Spider's Tale by Bryan Beus
Read by Ramon de Ocampo
Produced by Blackstone Audio
Number of Discs: MP3 download (21 parts)
Total Time: 4 hours, 2 minutes
Release Date: September 2015
ISBN: 9781504663830

Friday, December 4, 2015

Review: A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale

A Whole New World begins a new series of Twisted Tales by Liz BraswellA Whole New World is a dark new telling of Disney's Aladdin. Jafar takes center stage when he takes possession of the lamp and leaves Aladdin to die in the Cave of Wonders.

The known Disney characters do appear in the story - genie, Abu, Rajah, Iago, Sultan, Jasmine, Jafar, Aladdin, and magic carpet. Liz Braswell also introduces a tribe of street rats. Aladdin knows them but doesn't associate with them because they steal more than they need. But as the darkness of Jafar's rule overshadows Agrabah, he seeks out his old friends. It is time to unite and overthrow Jafar and his mad rule.

I need to begin with applause for Liz Braswell for recreating a classic Disney tale. Readers will either love it or hate it if they have strong feelings toward (or against) the original story. I grew up watching Aladdin and it was a fun, fresh movie. I would not place it as a top favorite or leave it on a dusty shelf to be forgotten either. I guess I'm middle of the road, so I gave A Whole New World a listen. (Rewritten fairy tales also are a favorite genre of mine, too.)

The story begins very closely to the Disney movie version. There a some small twists and turns along the way until Jafar takes the lamp and leaves Aladdin to rot in the cave. Genie (or jinn) is still strange - knowing more than he should about places afar and trying to be humorous. He was okay. I would have liked to hear about a more classic/historical type jinn character, but it is what it is. Jasmine and Aladdin meet in Agrabah and Aladdin is fascinated with her. It goes so far as to talk about Jasmine's cinnamon breath. The romance is stronger than the movie. The dark madness of Jafar is creepy and shocking at times. I don't want to give anything away, but there was a moment or two a gasped aloud while listening.

I appreciated having the animals in the story. The best part of having the animals was that they were animals! No anthropomorphism. Thank you, Ms. Braswell. The magic carpet could also be placed here as well. It was more rug than character. Well done.

I would recommend this title to young adults or adults. The darkness and romance could be too much for some late grade schoolers or middlers. I probably won't listen to it again.

James Patrick Cronin narrates A Whole New World. This is the first time I've heard him narrate a book. I think it was well done. The characters were given different voices. The ladies voices were believable. His voice was youthful so it fit well with the young Aladdin. Blackstone Audio added intro and exit music and other than that each track flowed into the next.

Reviewed from an Audiobook Jukebox copy. Thank you, Blackstone Audio!

Audio Book Details...
A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell
Read by James Patrick Cronin
Produced by Blackstone Audio
Number of Discs: MP3 download (28 parts)
Total Time: 8 hours, 38 minutes
Release Date: September 2015
ISBN: 9781504650120
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