Audiobook: Street Magic

by Tamora Pierce
read by Full Cast Audio
ages: 12+
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I realized sometime in the last couple of weeks that I was spending an inordinate amount of time in the car driving my children places. I don’t mind this: I like my car, I like my children, and I generally don’t mind listening to the news/music. But then I got thinking: the more time I spend in my car, the less time I have to actually sit and read (though I do take a book for me to read while I am waiting). Then the tragedy in AZ happened, and the news was just depressing, and that’s when it hit me: audiobooks! (I’m slow sometimes.)

I wandered around the audiobook section (I really need an MP3 player/iPod so I can listen to downloadable stuff) and realized that I hadn’t read a Tamora Pierce book in a while, so I pulled this one off the shelf. When M saw the book, she informed me that it’s the second book in a second series and I might be a little lost. But then she proceeded to fill me in on all the information I needed.

Fourteen-year-old Briar Moss and his teacher, Rosethorn, are have been in Chammur, a Middle Eastern-like country, for a while to try and figure out a way to help the farmers with their plants. As both are plant mages, this is an ideal way for them to collect and study new plants and ideas. As their time comes to a close, Briar spots Evvy, a young street rat, in a market, and noticed she has stone magic. Once he finds Evvy, it becomes an interesting race with one of the nobles in town — Lady Zenadia, who is dabbling in leading a gang and inciting gang wars for a unspecified motivation — to see who can tap into Evvy’s power first.

That sounded bad. But it’s hard to explain, even though it’s pretty black and white: Briar wants to teach Evvy (or find her a teacher at least), Lady Zenadia wants the power (I’m assuming, since it was never specified) that Evvy’s magic will bring her. Evvy just wants to be fed and clothed and treated like a person not a slave.

The story is an interesting one, dealing with issues of ownership and propriety as well as those of class. However, I’m thinking this one was probably one I should have actually read, because I was distracted by the full cast audio. The narrator was okay, but several of the actors voices drove me nuts, so every time they spoke, I cringed. Of course this took away from the story. Also, it seemed to me, every time we turned around Pierce was describing what people were wearing. Did it really matter that Lady Zenadia was wearing a black and crimson sari, arms hung heavy with gold, a delicate nose ring that had a slim chain connecting it to her earring? Did it matter that Briar’s favorite overrrobe was a long, forest green one, beautifully embroidered? Um, no. Not really. I could have skipped over all that had I been looking at the text, but because I was listening, I couldn’t. Yawn.

Aside from that, the story was just okay. I wanted Pierce to give me more motivation for Lady Zenadia’s involvement in the city’s gangs, for her ruthlessness. It just was, and that bothered me. I wanted to know why. And while the ending was cool — it’s always nice to see YA characters taking action and being awesome without help from the adults — it was a bit too pat for my taste.

Maybe I should ask for some good audiobook recommendations. They need to be clean YA or MG because I drive around with my kids in the car, and there are some things that a 4 year old doesn’t need to hear. Any suggestions for my next book?

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7 thoughts on “Audiobook: Street Magic

  1. I just finished listening to “The Clockwork Three” by Matthew Kirby and thought it was a great story for kids. A couple other of my favorite fantasy series are Fablehaven and The Chronicles of Prydain.

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  2. I had high plans to start listening to more audio books this year. Bought an MP3 player. It is now full of music and I rarely see it…

    I do know that the Skulduggery Pleasant books are fun audios. I tried to listen to the first one in my car, but it skipped too bad and annoyed me. What I heard was really good, though!

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  3. Oh gosh! I've been doing this with my kids for years and there are so many good ones! My oldest is 11 so we haven't wandered into YA territory yet. Some of our favorites:

    The Penderwicks
    The Underland Chronicles
    Elisabeth Enright's Melendy books
    The Graveyard Book
    The Incredible Journey
    Aurora County All Stars

    Enjoy!

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  4. I am a major audio lover ever since my first one which was Graceling, a full cast audio. Now I listen to audio books every time I get in the car while I shop, clean house, or anything else that doesn't allow me to physical hold a book.Thankfully I have a iphone, which I can download to.

    I have loved listening to all of Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking series,
    Adored Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly,laughed out loud at Paper Towns by John Green, and experienced nightmare with Marshal listening to Morhpeus Road.

    If you find some good audio books hope you will share too.

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  5. Turtle in Paradise (which I'm sure you've read) is a great audiobook. It's narrated by Becca Battoe, and her voice is perfect for Turtle.

    My children (ages 6 and 5) listen to audiobooks all the time. Some of their favorites are the Little House on the Prairie books (narrated by Stockard Channing, maybe?), all the E.B. White books (narrated by the author himself!), the Alexander McCall Smith juvenile stories (also narrated by the author, maybe?), and the list goes on and on and on.

    I'm always on the lookout for stuff my girls can listen to, so I'll be checking back!

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