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December 23, 2005 Edition

Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne, read by Jim Dale.

(tape and cd) This classic story of Phileas Fogg’s round-the-world trip in the unheard-of time of 80 days (in 1873) contains steam ships, trains, and elephants, not to mention lots of money, a bank robber, and a detective from Scotland Yard. Though it starts out slowly, the pace escalates until listeners will be on the edges of their seats, wondering if Fogg and his growing entourage will return to England in time to claim their winnings. When the story is over, keep listening for an afterword explaining the cultural references, opinions, and biases of the late 1800s.

Aleutian Sparrow, by Karen Hesse, read by Sarah Jones

(tape and cd) Hesse’s visit to Alaska a few years ago spurred her to write this story of the evacuation of the Aleutian Islands during World War II. Imagine hearing that your country was under attack and that you and everyone you knew were going to be taken away from your homes and put in a camp far away. That’s what happens to Vera and her family, and for three years they endure prejudice and crowded barracks, guard against illness and death, and hope that when they are allowed to return, there will be homes for them to return to. Written in free verse that is beautiful to listen to, this fictional story is accompanied by recollections from Harriet Hope, a survivor of the evacuation.

The Teacher’s Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts, by Richard Peck, read by Dylan Baker.

When 15 year-old Russell Culver hears that the teacher of his one-room school has died, he’s elated. There’s no way the town will hire a teacher for the 6 kids left in town, right? Finally, he can hop a train to the Dakotas and get a job working the new all-steel threshing machines and make some money. But Fate (and a new teacher) steps in, looking just like his big sister Tansy. And Tansy won’t give up and go away, despite all the tricks Russell’s got up his sleeve.

The Pepins and their Problems, by Polly Horvath, read by Julie Halson

Are you good at solving problems? Maybe you’d be willing to help the Pepins with theirs – they need to know what to do with their cow, which only gives lemonade. And what should they do when they get stuck on the roof of the house? If you can help, send your suggestions to the author mentally (she’s psychic) and, if they are good, she’ll relay them to the Pepins. For older fans of Allard’s The Stupids and Parish’s Amelia Bedelia – put on your thinking caps and be prepared to laugh!

The Secrets of Droon, by Tony Abbott, read by Oliver Wyman.

By checking out this one audiobook, you can listen to all of the first three Droon books! In “The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet,” Eric, Julie, and Neal discover that when they are all together in the storage space under Eric’s basement stairs, the door to a magical land called Droon opens up and the adventure begins. In “Journey to the Volcano Palace,” the three friends try to recover a beautiful (and magical) jewel stolen from their friend Princess Keeah. Lord Sparr has hidden it, and the kids know where: inside a volcano. The third book, “The Mysterious Island,” finds the three kids sailing with the princess when suddenly they are caught in a magical storm and shipwrecked on an island that belongs to one of Lord Sparr’s witches. Can they get off the island before Lord Sparr finds them?

The Dragonslayers,” by Bruce Coville, performed by the author and others

When a vengeful witch targets King Mildred’s daughter, Princess Willie, the princess isn’t scared - even when she hears that the witch has created a dragon just for her. Instead, Princess Willie straps on her sword and her disguise and heads out to slay the dragon, accompanied by her talking bear. Originally created as a musical for Coville’s fourth graders, the last tape in this set contains the songs from the world premiere version.

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