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December 2017/January 2018

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FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE Carole Boston Weatherford Read by JD Jackson History meets art in this musical and poetic account of a week in the life of an enslaved African in nineteenth-century New Orleans. Narrator JD Jackson's bari- tone is the perfect instrument to deliver the rhyming couplets that describe each weekday of plantation life. During the grueling days of Monday t h r o u g h S a t u r d a y , h i s narration is accompanied by the sounds of snorting hogs, splitting logs, snap- ping whips, and scrubbing brushes, all with the pur- posefully unsettling gentle music of white slave owners as back- ground accompaniment. But on Sunday afternoons, when the enslaved are allowed to congregate freely in Congo Square, birds sing and rhythmic drum- ming accompanies an uplifting poem of freedom—even if only for an afternoon. A foreword and author's note offer his- torical context. L.T. Dreamscape 14 mins. Unabridged Ages 4-6 Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9781520078526 $14.99 (also DD) A TEENY TINY HALLOWEEN Lauren L. Wohl Read by Elisabeth Rodgers Listeners will settle in for a Halloween- focused teeny tiny woman story that is not too frightening while being a whole lot of fun. Narrator Elisabeth Rodgers quietly yet firmly emphasizes the words "teeny tiny," and her descriptions of the howl- ing of the wind and the darkness of the house have a scary edge to them. With each repetition, Rodgers builds suspense through her tone. Sound effects are matched precisely to the details of each scene such as the rustling of leaves and the clatter of pots and pans. What is the teeny tiny woman up to with her cookie sheet and wooden spoon? What will the children find under the huge pile of leaves? Halloween surprises await! A.R. Live Oak Media 11 mins. Unabridged Ages 4-6 Book & Recording: CD ISBN 9781430126959 $19.95 HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER Adam Wallace Read by Chris Patton Narrator Chris Patton's eager, youthful voice is ideal for portraying a boy who's elated at being chosen as the ninja master for his school play. Lively music through- out adds to the fun, particularly when a "fighting spirit" song matches the child's decision to confront the monster in his bedroom closet. A skilled presentation of words like "snap" and "trap" keeps the rhythm flowing. Patton's rendering of the monster when it's confronted is spot-on when he says in a gentle tone that he pre- fers to play and not to be scary. Listeners will delight in hearing the pair play and form an endearing friendship. This charming bedtime story is over when the boy says he feels safe and the monster utters a loving "good night." S.G.B. Dreamscape 7 mins. Unabridged Ages 4-6 Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9781520083957 $14.99 (also DD) TUMBLE & BLUE Cassie Beasley Read by Kirby Heyborne Narrator Kirby Heyborne delivers authentic Southern accents in this story about what happens when 12-year-old Blue Montgomery's father leaves him at his grandmother's house in rural Georgia for the summer. Heyborne por- trays Blue as believably as he portrays Granny Eve, and he enliv- ens every other character in the story, too, even the magical alligator that lives in the middle of Okefenokee Swamp. More important, t h o u g h , i s t h e n o t e o f determination Heyborne interjects into the voice of Tumble Wilson, the girl who befriends Blue and encourages him to attempt to take control of his life. Heyborne's narration bridges magical realism, family drama, adventure, and budding friendship to create a thoroughly satisfying listen. A.F. Listening Library 8.25 hrs. Unabridged Ages 8+ Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9781524776008 $23.00 Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9781524776015 $55.00 (also DD) VICTOR SHMUD: TOTAL EXPERT: Let's Do a Thing Jim Benton Read by Johnny Heller Johnny Heller gives an out-of-this-world performance as the imaginative and intrepid Victor Shmud. Jim Benton, author of the Franny K. Stein and Dear Dumb Diary series, brings more outrageous fun with his new child protagonist, whom Heller entertainingly portrays with vivid animation. Heller combines child- like innocence and silliness with a debonair sophistication to convey Victor's unique blend of confidence and charm, especially when he's sweet-talking his teacher, Mrs. Nozzleburp. A dignified British accent for the alien captain that kidnaps Victor, after confusing him for a strategy expert, is just one of the many humorous voices Heller provides to the melange of oddball characters. This short and fun listening experience is a definite thing to do. M.F. Scholastic Audiobooks 42 mins. Unabridged Ages 8+ Trade Ed.: DD $5.59 Johnny Heller gives an out-of-this-world performance. December 2017/January 2018 n 65 Children & Family Listening MORE REVIEWS Exclusive Web-Only Children & Family Reviews www.audiofilemagazine.com

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