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July 8, 2010 Edition
Lose yourself in the story of Odd, a crippled twelve year-old Viking, who leaves home in the midst of a seemingly endless winter to find a better life for himself. After bravely rescuing a bear whose paw is stuck in a tree, he falls into the company of the bear and his companions: a fox and an eagle. Soon, he finds that they aren’t ordinary animals, but gods, exiled from their forms and from Asgard by invading Frost Giants, and that he’s been hand-picked by Loki to restore the gods to their home. No bloody swashbuckling here, but plenty of Gaiman’s signature problem-solving, derring-do, wit, and adventure, together with his own masterful narration make this perfect for family car trips or evening listening together.
When Calpurnia asks her formidable grandfather where the grasshoppers have come from that have suddenly appeared all over their Texas homestead, he tells her he’s sure she’ll figure it out. Far from being put off by what seems a gruff response, she hunkers down to watch and soon has the answer. Callie’s always been interested in the hows and whys of things, but now her attention becomes focused on the natural world. When her grandfather discovers that his only granddaughter is the sole grandchild following in his scientific footsteps, he’s delighted and takes her under his wing. At the same time, Callie’s mother wants her only daughter to take more of an interest in homemaking, as befits a young lady of the 20th century. Yes, Callie is a rebel, but she’s a quiet one, and listeners in middle school and up who enjoy beautifully-written, character-driven stories ought to lend this Newbery Honor book their ear.
In this stand-alone sequel, we’re back with Lonnie Motion, who is settled in his new foster home but fiercely missing his parents (who died) and his little sister Lili (who lives in another foster home). To fill the gaps between seeing Lili, Locomotion writes letters to her, bundling them up to give her when they’re older and living together again. They are a record of his days as a twelve year-old, playing basketball with his best friend Clyde, worrying about his foster brother Jenkins (who is a soldier overseas), and wondering if he’s getting too comfortable in his new family. And when Jenkins returns from war, injured and shell-shocked, Locomotion has a new worry: will Miss Edna send him away now that Jenkins needs her so much? This soft-spoken, poetic, and touching novel about families will appeal most to middle school and high school listeners.
As Milne’s original The House at Pooh Corner ends, Christopher Robin leaves home for boarding school, leaving Pooh and friends behind. Now, in Benedictus’ sequel, Christopher Robin is back for the summer holidays and things pick up where they left off. Well, almost. As befits a growing child, Christopher Robin brings a new worldliness to his imaginative adventures, and, unavoidably, some of Milne’s little touches are replaced by Benedictus’. But that isn’t a bad thing: the voice is fresh but familiar and the animals’ adventures are just as spirited and innocent. Listeners of all ages get reacquainted with old pals as they search for missing bees, play cricket (England vs. Australia, with Kanga and Roo representing Australia), and meet a new friend.