Countdown audiobook review

by Deborah Wiles; read by Emma Galvin
Middle School     Listening Library     Rev. 5/10
6 CDs     7.3 hrs.     978-0-3078-7967-7     $40.00

Eleven-year-old Air Force brat Franny Chapman stars in Wiles’s documentary novel about shifting friendships, first crushes, and family loyalty, set during the volatile days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In this audio version, Galvin voices each of the book’s many  characters convincingly: Franny, emotions roiling; her mother, all brusque efficiency; Uncle Otts, ever unpredictable; and Margie, who goes from loyal friend to betrayer and back. It’s a shame for the audience to miss out on seeing the printed book’s many expertly placed archival photographs. However, performances of the speeches, news headlines, propaganda, and slogans — Duck and Cover! — do enhance the story, and the actors are up to the task (a so-so JFK impersonation notwithstanding). Background sound effects, including typewriters clacking and newsreels ticking, nicely underscore the time period while effectively enhancing listeners’ “this just in!” experience.

This post is part of Audiobook Week on Out of the Box. For more, click on the audiobooks tag.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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