May 22, 2013 by Heidi
As you may remember, I signed up to participate as a judge for the 2013 Armchair Audies in the Children’s Ages 8-12 category (or, as I tend to call it, Middle Grade goodness). I partnered with Tanya of dog eared copy, and we each listened to all of the nominees in our category before putting our heads together and agreeing on our winner for the Armchair Audies ballot.
You can read all of the Armchair Audies participants’ thoughts in all categories by checking out the website here. I’ve found a few I’ve already listened to or have put in the pile from these wonderful reviews!
So first things first, let’s do a quick recap of the books and my thoughts on them:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
While the story wasn’t my favorite (in fact, of the 5 nominees, it was my least favorite), I did feel the audio production was fairly well done. Using three narrators worked well, particularly Nick Podehl whose accent abilities really made his characters. I wasn’t a huge fan of the narration for the main character, Augie, by Diana Steele because I felt that the scratchy female narration for a young boy came across as too like the Simpsons for me. You can read my full review here.
The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickons of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy
This book was charming, and quite well done (as always) by Katherine Kellgreen. I’ve really started to associate her as a narrator with good ol’ England, particularly some of its more unsavory bits. I’m not a big reader of younger middle grade books (this more for 8 than 12 year olds), or animal fantasy, but my only real complaint with this one was that it was over so soon! You can read my full review here.
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
I ended up not posted a full review for this one via audio, largely because I already spent one review waxing poetic about it, here. Which means I also cheated, and decided to only listen to segments rather than the entire book to get a feel for the narration. While I thought the narrator and production were excellent, I also wasn’t sure anything about it really enhanced my enjoyment of the book (which was one of my favorites of 2012–so I suppose making me enjoy it more was a tough job).
Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Same Sun Here is the book that showed me that audio is the perfect platform for telling an epistolary tale. Having dual narrators (who just happened to be the authors–I love when authors can really nail their own narration) worked perfectly for this story of pen pals, capturing the characters of an Indian immigrant to NYC and a boy in rural Tennessee. While the story bordered on having a political agenda, I feel they at least attempted to show a balanced perspective. You can read my full review here.
And the winner is…
The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman
As much as I enjoyed the bulk of this year’s nominations, I was so happy that Tanya and I could agree that our ballot vote would be going to Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze. By including the author in the selection of Robin Miles, a narrator who was able to perfectly capture the vernacular and style of white and black speech in Louisiana in both 1960 and 1860, this book really stood out. I also greatly enjoyed the inclusion of an author interview at the end, which served wonderfully to tell about the historical aspects, as well as Sherman’s writing process for this story. More than any book in this category, I feel that The Freedom Maze transcends age group, and will easily capture the hearts and attention of adults and children alike. You can read my full review here. Highly recommended.
Now we just have to sit back and see who the actual winners are! You can check out all the nominations and categories here, and the Audie Award Winners will be announced on May 30th!