As you will recall (or not), I was on vacation recently. One of the things I love to do (to stave off boredom and to curtail the number of DVDs watched) is take a pile of kid-friendly audiobooks to listen to. For some reason, this year we didn’t listen to nearly as many as I thought we would: we only got around to two books. But, both were excellent.
Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man
by Donald J. Sobol
Read by : Greg Steinbruner
I hate to admit it, but I’ve never read an Encyclopedia Brown book. No idea why. Hubby, on the other hand, remembers loving them from his childhood. He even convinced M to read a few when she was 8(ish). I picked this one up on a whim, figured maybe we’d get to it. However, it was the first one we plucked out of the pile.
And, we loved it. Every single one of us, from 6-year-old K to Hubby. The basic idea is this: it’s a series of short cases that genius whiz kid, Encyclopedia Brown, solves. Except you get to try and solve it before the final answer is revealed. (And yes, we did pause the disc every time, and we all guessed just to see. Sometimes we were right, sometimes were were way off base.)
The best things about it, I thought, were the names (I can’t recall them off the top of my head, and I didn’t write them down. Curses.), the fact that it was so 1950s (it was quite charming in it’s retro-ness), and the humor. I did write one line down, that had us howling: “All the murderers these days use silencers.” Steinbruner was an excellent reader, as well, keeping us engaged in the stories. (I swear, if you tune out for a second you lose a lot of information!)
And the second:
by C. S. Lewis
Read by: Lyn Redgrave
Others in the series: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe
Last year, we tackled the first book in Narnia, so I figured why not do Prince Caspian? (I also got Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but as soon as we realized it was a “full cast production” we bailed. We don’t like those.)
Again, it was a great read; one of those where you don’t want to get out of the car because you have to figure out what’s going to happen next.
The story, for those of you who don’t know it: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are dragged back into Narnia, only to find out that hundreds of years have passed in Narnia to their one year in England. Their castle is now in ruins, and Narnia is ruled by a wicked Telemain king. The rightful heir and prince is in exile, and forming an army against his uncle (the wicked king), and needs the help of High King Peter and the rest.
Just some brief thoughts: I enjoyed this one so much more than Lion, etc. While Lion is a good story, this one is a fun, engaging adventure without the didactic overtones that Lion has. I also liked Prince Caspian as a character better than the older Pevensie children (however, Edmund and Lucy are still delightful, as always), especially Susan in this one. More than once the girls would call out, “Susan is SUCH a wet blanket!” (or a variation on that…) And she was: she was the downer of the group, not really wanting to be there. No wonder she never came back for more adventures.
And Lyn Redgrave was a brilliant storyteller. She kept us all engaged (I think it helped that the story was a fun one, though it got bogged down in the history portion. K kept asking when they’d get back to the action.), and her voices for everyone were quite fun, and spot-on as well.
It’s been too long since I’ve visited Narnia, but I’m not sure I’m going to actually read them. I’m having way too much fun listening to the audiobooks.