White on White - E.B. White
Read by Joel White
River Music (800-748-5804)
One cassette, 1 hour, $10
Could E.B. White come back to life for a brief visit? A special treat awaits listeners in this slim volume. This selection of poems, letters, and essays includes "Letter to the IRS" (fresh as any quip one could imagine today), "Song of the Queen Bee" and "I Paint What I See" (for any would-be art censors). Reading each piece, Joel White, son of E.B. "Andy" White, introduces each one with its context or the special significance it has to him.
Joel White's voice sounds very much like his father's. It's uncanny for listeners who have shared E.B. White's reading of Charlotte's Web (BDD Audio) with their children. The cadence and regional tone are similar, the delivery appropriately unpolished. Added to this, Joel White projects a sense of intimacy that colors this personal portrait. This visit is all too brief, but another program is in the works.
Vein of Gold - Julia Cameron
Read by the author
Sounds True (800-333-9185)
2 cassettes, 3 hours, $18.95
Listeners join Julia Cameron and a few friends and students at her Colorado "Star House" for an audio program based on her new work. Known and loved for "The Artist's Way," Cameron discusses "The Kingdom of Story," the first of a series of kingdoms that provides the structure of "The Vein of Gold."
Discussion of finding, enriching, and using one's creative energy, one's "vein of gold," follows a series of mining analogies. Cameron speaks quietly to the small group gathered, expressing warmth and humor without the formality of an audience presentation.
Excerpts from the text are interspersed with anecdotes and personal comments that enliven the program. Original music, composed by Tim Wheater specifically for the program, divides the presentation. A variety of pieces, trilling flute, melodic riffs and Native American music, break up Cameron's smooth cadences. Cameron is aware that aural delivery is different from text and carefully modulates her presentation, slowing at certain points and emphasizing others.
She asks listeners to participate with immediate exercises, as well as offering ones that can be done at a later time, and concludes with a question-and-answer segment with producer Tammy Simon. The program combines an appealing mix of contemplation, spirituality and motivation.
The Fallen Man - Tony Hillerman
Recorded Books (800-638-1304)
Read by George Guidall
6 cassettes, 9 hours, $49
Read by Gil Silverbird
Abridged, four cassettes
3 hours, $25
Shiprock, "the rock with wings," a sacred Navajo mountain, claims the life of a mountain climber who is identified as a young man who disappeared ten years earlier. Tony Hillerman returns in his latest novel to the stunning landscape of New Mexico, as well as to Navajo tribal policemen Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, now retired. They seek to solve the mysteries that link the fallen climber to current mining interests and his original, unsolved disappearance.
Hillerman's mystery is available in both abridged and unabridged recordings. Gil Silverbird narrates the six-hour abridgment, authorized by Hillerman, which follows all the various subplots but without the full attention Hillerman gives them in the complete text. Silverbird is Navajo and reads with a lyrical cadence. He gives distinctive voices to Chee, Leaphorn, the young policewoman, Bernie, and each of the other characters.
Presenting the internal monologues he clearly distinguishes them from the dialogue. George Guidall, however, achieves a unity with Hillerman's work that makes this rendition quite exceptional. He projects the internal narrative that reflects the struggle of the Navajo and Anglo cultures and does full justice to Hillerman's sense of place. Guidall colors the narrative with subtle, emotional shading and admirably projects both the vitality of the younger characters and the sagacity of the older ones.
An Easy Burden - Andrew Young
Read by the author
Harper Audio (800-242-7737)
Abridged, two cassettes
3 hours, $18
Civil Rights pioneer Andrew Young shares his family creed - "From everyone to whom much has been given much will be required," (Luke 12:48). He calls this burden of responsibility "an easy burden." Young's distinguished career as an African-American leader and participant from the earliest days of the civil rights movement reveals the depth of his commitment.
This memoir is important for its historic detail: his close association to Martin Luther King Jr., the planning of marches and demonstrations, and the overview of the results. Young is clear, eloquent and powerful. Even when recounting very emotional memories, he's steady and compelling. This audiobook should be appreciated by a wide audience. It's accessible and could be used by students and families interested in a personal, yet detailed, history of the civil rights struggle in the United States.
Stellaluna - Janell Cannon
Told by David Holt
High Windy Audio (800-63-STORY)
1 cassette, 35 minutes
$9.98 (CD: $15.98)
Bats for your backyard? After listening to Stellaluna, families will be putting out bat houses and the welcome mat for Stellaluna and her friends.
Cannon's popular picture book about a little fruit bat who loses her mother and adopts a family of birds comes to life through storyteller David Holt. Appealing to even the smallest children, the story charms listeners of all ages. We get a glimpse of the rollicking storytelling style David Holt is known for in the traditional tale about the birds and beasts of the world, "Why The Bat Flies At Night." His friendly manner charms and informs, keeping a young audience happily listening and parents considering a new solution to mosquito control.
* Robin Whitten is the founder and editor of AudioFile, a monthly magazine of reviews and information on audiobooks. For additional information call 800-506-1212 or RAudioFile@aol.com