Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks; narrated by Bahni Turpin
HarperAudio / Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Aspiring baker Zoe Washington is looking forward to spending her summer working at her family friend’s bakery, and then auditioning to be on a kid’s baking show. On her 12th birthday, Zoe receives a letter from her biological father who has been in prison on a murder charge her entire life. Zoe, who hasn’t heard from Marcus before now, begins writing back, only to find that he has been writing to her all along, and that he claims he is innocent of the charge. In wanting to be able to trust and believe her father, and while keeping the correspondence secret from her mother, Zoe and her best friend try to find her father’s alibi witness.
Master of narration, Bahni Turpin captures Zoe’s adolescent voice in a way that it will appeal to younger teens without sounding too juvenile, and culinary enthusiasts will eat up descriptions of Zoe’s baking adventures and pursuits. Marks’ examination of the justice system will appeal to those interested in social justice and prison reform.
This will easily appeal to fans of cooking shows like The Great British Baking Show, Chopped Junior, and Kids Baking Championship, as well as books with social justice themes such as Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Ghost Boys or Lisa Moore Ramée’s A Good Kind of Trouble.
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones; narrated by Moira Quirk
Little, Brown Young Readers
Release date: September 24, 2019
Ryn and her siblings are barely making it after the death of their mother and disappearance of their father. As the only grave digger in a town where the dead don’t always stay dead, Ryn is all that is keeping the people safe from the Bone Houses, the dead that have risen. A map maker comes to town and asks Ryn to take him through the forest so he can map it. When the Bone Houses attack the town, they go, hoping to find a way to end the plague, and possibly find her father.
This is a gentle romance set in a slightly creepy fairy zombie story. The happily ever after ending is hard won through adventures both physical and psychological. The excellent narration by Moira Quirk added to the atmosphere and the light humor that makes this a very enjoyable listen.
Readers who enjoy magical realism like Brigid Kemerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and Holly Black’s faerie stories will like The Bone Houses.
Kent State by Deborah Wiles; Narrated by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina DeLaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson and David de Vries
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
May 4, 1970, was the day that the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Kent State’s campus, killing four and injuring nine. Even to this day, there are still many questions about the reasons for the shooting. Wiles’ free verse recounting of this day, and the three leading up to it, brings to life a period with which readers may not be familiar while also encouraging them to draw parallels to current day events.
With a different narrator for each voice, as well as music and sound effects to add to the intensity and realism, the listener is pulled into the story. Younger teens might also enjoy the breaking of the fourth wall as the narrators speak directly to them.
Fans of Wiles’ other works, such Anthem and A Long Line of Cakes will enjoy this as well. For fans of the free verse style and social activism aspects, look to authors such as Jason Reynolds and Elizabeth Acevedo.