I’m not sure I was really an audiobook listener before, but after a year and a half on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee, I’m definitely one now. I listen during every little sliver of downtime in my life, and once you spend that much time with someone’s voice, you sort of start to feel like you know them.
It was a real treat, then, to actually get to know some outstanding audiobook narrators this week at the presentation of the Odyssey Awards during ALA Annual in Anaheim. The ceremony was held on Monday afternoon, and all but one of the narrators of the honored audiobooks were there, as well as some of the authors as well.
After an introduction to the award, each book was introduced by the chair of the Odyssey committee. She read a short summary, talked briefly about what in the recording made it stand out, and then played a short clip for us. After that, a representative from the publisher accepted the award, and then the narrator gave a short speech and then read a section from the story.
JD Jackson (who read Ghetto Cowboy), Lincoln Hoppe (Okay for Now), Fiona Hardingham (The Scorpio Races), Wendy Carter (Young Fredle), and Kirby Heyborne (Rotters) were all absolutely delightful. I suppose I should have expected it since they’re all performers, but they were warm and natural at the podium and were all funny, too, especially when they laughed off reading the same passage as we’d just heard in an audio clip.
But what really surprised me was their body language. Some of them gestured while they were reading and some moved through a variety of facial expressions–but Kirby Heyborne definitely took the gold here with the way he became each character. He’d given one a nervous habit of sniffing and wiping his nose; another required him to hunch over the podium, and another had his own distinct facial expression. We were all held captive while he performed.
And then to top it all off, he sang for us! (Lyrics on his blog.)
The award presentation was so much fun and I’m really glad I was there!
— Gretchen Kolderup, currently reading the very unsettling Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
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