Have you heard?

Audiobook versions of these intermediate and middle-school books — two in verse, one incorporating archival materials, and one light family story — give listeners a whole new way to immerse themselves in their engrossing tales.

alexander_crossover audiobookThe Crossover's protagonist, Josh "Filthy McNasty" Bell, is a star basketball player along with his twin brother JB. JB's romance with a new girl at school provokes a growing rift between the brothers, but a greater loss in the family ultimately unites them in grief and healing. Narrator Cory Allen's heartfelt performance of Kwame Alexander's 2015 Newbery-winning verse novel highlights the verses' rhythmic cadence and their seemingly effortless rhyme without sacrificing fluent storytelling. (Recorded Books, 10–14 years)

woodson_brown girl dreaming audiobookJacqueline Woodson's memoir in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, offers an intimate, immediate portrait of her unfolding childhood, haunted by discrimination and cheered by the comfort of family. The author's own narration, with the resonance of a storyteller, is plainly conversational, her easy cadence establishing a comfortable, familiar rhythm. Never calling attention to itself, Woodson's honest reading, with nuanced pauses, inflections, and occasional whispers, invests the emotional impact in service to the poetry, where it belongs. (Listening Library, 10–14 years)

wiles_revolution audiobookRevolution, Deborah Wiles's complex, ambitious novel of 1964's Freedom Summer (sequel to Countdown), intertwines multiple perspectives, supplementing the main narrative with documentary imagery, quotes, and facsimile newspaper stories to immerse the reader in the volatile tumult of the times. This audio production, read by Stacey Aswad and Francois Battiste with J. D. Jackson and Robin Miles, takes time to read headlines, sing spirituals, and spit hateful pronouncements. While that documentary interpretation is impressively authentic, the backbone of the audiobook is the alternating narration of protagonists Sunny and Ray, performed with the same nuance and growth with which they are written. (Listening Library, 10–14 years)

levy_misadventures of the family fletcherThe Misadventures of the Family Fletcher covers one year with four brothers, two dads, several pets, and one grumpy neighbor. Dana Alison Levy's cheerful story moves along at a lively clip, with every Fletcher getting his time in the spotlight. Dan Woren's distinctive voice and narrative style for each of the four boys ensures that every story line is easy to follow. Regular interjections of good-humored advice from Dad and Papa keep the story — and the energetic dialogue — grounded. Listening to these "misadventures" feels like eavesdropping on the little struggles and encouraging victories of your favorite neighbors. (Listening Library, 10–14 years)

From the March 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a current member of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee, and has served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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