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Tag: k. l. going

2015 Amazing Audiobooks Top Ten Listen-a-Likes

Photo by Flickr User jeff_golden
Photo by Flickr User jeff_golden

This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list!  After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best.  If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here.  It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.

We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.

2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten

  • ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.

The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive.  Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.

Listen-a-Like:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham: For those listeners who are looking for another title narrated by Fiona Hardingham that is packed with action and adventure and that has a strong female main character. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2012,  2012 Odyssey Honor  Audiobook)

acidaudioscorpioracesaudio

  • Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick.  Hachette Audio, 2013.  9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.

In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands.  Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.

Listen-a-Like:

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures.  Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)

curtsies and conspiracies audio  screaming staircase audio

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Audiobooks for Reluctant Listeners

By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
June is Audiobook Month!  Many of us have fond memories of being read to as a child, but did you know that you can still be read to?  That is the value of audiobooks! The story comes alive and, with the right narrator, you can hear a story much more differently than you would reading it.  Accents are perfected, exclamations are understood, and even words or names you may not know or have never heard before make sense to you.  This is my second year evaluating audiobooks for YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee.  As chair of this year’s committee, I am so excited for all the great audiobook-related things happening this month.  Articles are being written about the importance and resurgence of audiobooks, you can get in “Sync” this summer and download free audios, and the audiobook circulation at my Library sees a nice increase starting in June with many people going on road trips and vacations.

To give you an idea of what makes an audiobook a good listen, here are some of the criteria that gets an audiobook on the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults selection list:

  • The narration has to expand or compliment the original text.  In other words, when you listen to a narrator tell the story, it comes alive and allows the you to experience the text in a different way.
  • Character voice variation is key!  We must have a sense of who the character is by the different qualities in the voices that the narrator uses.  For example, it is a lot more enjoyable when you are listening to a narrated conversation and can tell which character is talking without the text cues letting you know.  Accents, exclamations, and sound effects also are considered.  If done well, they really make an audiobook amazing!
  • There is also the importance of a match between the text and the narrator.  You know when it is right; your ear picks it up.  The narrator embodies the main character and sometimes even all the characters in the books.
  • The technical production on an audiobook is also a criteria for the Amazing Audiobooks list.  We want to make sure the editing is done well, the sound quality is even, and that there are no issues with extra sounds or mike pickups. Additionally, we do consider the music that you hear at the beginning, end, or in between the tracks–does it match the story?  Is it effective in heightening the story? If it is, then it just adds more quality to the production.

So, where should you start if you have never listened to an audiobook before?  Well, some great awards and lists are put out every year: the Odyssey Award, the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults annual list, and the Audies are a few places to start.  Below I have compiled some of my favorites, that I think will be a great first listen for all of you who are new to audiobooks and want to give them a try.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, read by Jeff Woodman.  Brilliance Audio: 7 hours. (2008 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

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What Would They Read: Glee Edition, Part 2

Since I got so much positive feedback from last month’s Glee edition of Glee-Themed-Karaoke-Revolution-Announced-2“What Would They Read?,” I thought I would continue with a few more characters.  I actually had some recommendations in the comments section which I plan to include in this post.

Last month I tackled reading options for Finn, Rachel, and Quinn.  In order to include as many characters as possible, I’m going to do a quick Reader’s Advisory for several more people.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your AssSantana Lopez – I’m going to start this off with one of the recommendations left in last month’s comments section.  While Santana does not appear to be a very big reader, she would definitely find some common ground in Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (2014 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers).  In Medina’s book, Piddy discovers that Yaqui, a girl she doesn’t eve know, has decided to target her in an aggressive bullying situation.  Santana would like the book not only because of the strong anti-bullying sentiments she developed while protecting Kurt, but also because of the strong Latina characters with whom she can relate culturally.

Tina Cohen-Chang – As we all know, Principal Figgins has revealed his dislike for Tina’s wardrobe, stating that it makes Vampire_Kissesher look like a vampire.  I assume Tina would appreciate a few vampire novels once in a while.  In particular, I would give her Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber.  While this is a bit of an oldie in the YA perspective (it came out in 2003), I believe that Tina would breathe new life into the title.  In Vampire Kisses, Raven is an outcast who dresses in all black and dreams of someday becoming a vampire.  When new neighbors move in next door, Raven can’t help but notice that they do not venture out during the daytime and Alexander, the teenaged son, hangs out in the cemetery quite frequently.  This could be Raven’s chance to embrace the afterlife of a vampire.

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YA on the Big Screen

Even before Twilight and The Hunger Games hit the big screen, we all had that one book we wished would be made into a movie. Thanks to the success of those two films, as well as the Harry Potter franchise, it’s become more common to hear about YA books being made into films. It’s not hard to see why Hollywood is after these books; aside from having compelling plots, dynamic characters, and intriguing hooks, there’s a big readership with a solid interest in seeing these stories on screen. There’s also no denying the movie industry is hoping to find that next Hunger Games to bring in cash.

The process of taking a book from print to film isn’t cut and dry. Many books are optioned for film rights, which means that either a studio, a producer, or a director pay to have “first dibs” on it. They have a set period of time to do something with the option, either moving forward with the project or not. When the period of time expires, they can either option it again or let it go, which means either another interested party can have at it or nothing will happen at all. So while you might hear about a book being optioned for film, it doesn’t always mean the actual film will happen.

Keeping that in mind, a number of YA books have been getting a lot of buzz lately, either as full-blown projects that are being pursued or as options for film.

K. L. Going’s Fat Kid Rules the World (a 2004 Printz honor book) is out now in theaters, after making its debut at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. Directed by Matthew Lillard–his first time as director–the film follows Troy, whose weight makes him want to commit suicide, as he is “saved” by punk rocker Marcus. The contemporary drama garnered audience praise at SxSW, and while it’s a limited release, it’s one worth keeping an eye out for.

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Why YA in the Classroom

Recently a report on high school students and reading levels came out with an alarming headline: “High Schoolers Reading at 5th Grade-Level.” Covered previously here at The Hub, the report gathered data suggesting that a majority of high school students are reading below grade level. It also asked an important question: what should kids be reading? One answer to this question is using more young adult literature in high school classes to increase interest and reading levels. YA is more popular than ever thanks to a certain dystopian series being turned into an insanely popular movie. But this strategy is not without its drawbacks.

Last month a teacher in South Carolina was suspended for reading aloud a passage from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, a YA science fiction book considered by many a classic and often taught in schools in units dealing with identity and morality. The Arizona State Legislature passed legislation last year effectively banning YA titles that had previously been used in successful multicultural studies curriculum. John Green recently defended his book Looking For Alaska (the 2006 Printz Award winner) on Twitter after it was removed from a school reading list on the basis it is “pornographic.”

YA books are far from being universally accepted in school classrooms. Their inclusion presents unique challenges (sometimes literally) but also amazing opportunities. A compelling reason to include YA literature in classrooms is content. Teens, like most readers, appreciate characters and situation that are familiar to them and their lives. Readers have a stronger connection to the text when they can see themselves and their struggles in the story. YA literature also offers readers diverse characters, compelling stories, and high quality writing. When incorporated into literature curricula, YA titles can offer a wide spectrum of views on popular themes like identity, conflict, society and survival. YA literature can be easily incorporated into classroom through literature circles, supplemental reading lists, multimedia projects, and of course being paired with canonical texts typically used in classrooms.

Here’s a list of YA titles that would fit into the classroom, organized by theme.

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