Monday, November 24, 2008

By The Great Horn Spoon!!

You know the phrase, "Never judge a book by it's cover."? I'm sure you do because we've all heard it a MILLION times. Our family is big on audio books. We love popping them in on long car rides to make the time pass more quickly. We've listened to a large list of books in the car, and the kids will spend days acting the books out.
We were recently in need of a new book for the car, and I had the luxury of being in the library ALONE. Which meant no children asking me why the books on said subject were all checked out. Or "I know the Pigeon books are in the W area, but I can't find them."
I've seen this book sitting on the shelf many times over, but the cover is very misleading. I don't know what I expected from the cover, but certainly not what I got. The book is OUTSTANDING. Seriously. It captivated us from the minute we popped in that first disc.
The book is set during the California gold rush, and the two main characters Praiseworthy and Jack have set off to claim their fortune. Praiseworthy is a lowly butler who can get you in and out of any possible situation, much like a fortunately, unfortunately type situation. Jack is a young boy intent on getting himself lots of gold and a six-shooter.
Along the way they meet many other characters, some of them so funny you can't stop laughing, and others who are down right despicable. There is, as with all books, many twists and turns, and of course a nemesis for Jack and Praiseworthy. Sid Fleischman did an OUTSTANDING job writing the book, and his descriptions of things are truly amazing, if not at times downright funny.
The narrator does a wonderful job getting right into the story and keeping you completely transfixed! We finished this book up over a week ago and the kids are still quoting it and acting it out. They aren't the only ones either. I've heard a few exclamations of "By the great horn spoon!" around here lately, as well as "The man with the hippa hoppa hat.." All of which you'll simply have to read or listen to the book to understand.
With that said, we listened to the book by simply borrowing it from our library. It can also be purchased via or I think the kids will be delighted to do this book for school someday in the near future. I found a unit study guide all ready made for the book! After all, not only would we get to pan for gold, but we'd get the perfect excuse to listen to the book again!
For those of you in the Tennessee Area, if you hold a library card you have the most powerful tool in accessing HUNDREDS of FREE audio books. Seriously. This may be available in other areas, but as I still hold a vaild TN library card I only know about it for that area. Anyway, for those interested simply go to R.E.A.D.S. From there search through the books, pick one out you want and use your library card! It's really simple, and just for the record you can access and BURN for FREE By The Great Horn Spoon. Please note that not ALL books at READS are permitted to be burned to cd, however all books are permitted to be used on your portable music player (ie. mp3 player) during the time period you have them checked out.
It does require downloading their FREE software, and it is only compatible with Windows. However, downloading is simple, checking out books, putting books on holds, etc. It's all super simple. I promise if I can do it, you can too.

A few other Audio Books we've enjoyed:

Heidi (we heard the junior version which is quick and to the point, but not as good as the normal version. It was all our library had.) Morgan and I truly loved this book, and Morgan was able to guess what might happen (I was impressed by that.)

Goose Girl -- this book is AWESOME, I've read it and listened to it. The audio is done with many different people and just outstanding. While I didn't put it on for the kids (I listened while working out) the kids did hear it and it was suitable.

Harry Potter (all of them) -- they are all done by Jim Dale. He's an outstanding performer in the audio book world. He has a different voice for each character and has no problem going back and forth between them. He truly captivates his audience. The boys have only been permitted to listen to the first two books. If you want to listen for FREE check your local library, most have them, but look for the American version done by Jim Dale, we haven't listened to the BBC version yet.

The Secret Garden -- this was also a dramatized version. The only different between a full cast presentation (most of the time) is that you don't get word for word what the book says. I believe they call that Dramatized vs full cast presentation. Which means rather then saying "sally walked downstairs" you hear her walking down the stairs. The boys LOVED this book as well. In fact they asked to go rent the movie afterwards. (The link provided is not the version we listened to.. we borrowed a BBC production version from our local library..)

Dexperaux -- this was WONDERFULLY done. Some people found the book depressing to read, but while it has a LOT of downers in it, we found the book a delight to listen to. We're still often quoting poor Migory Sow. Stick with the book, you'll love the ending, I promise.

The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane -- this book wasn't what I expected at first, but it was still a terrific book. We enjoyed listening to it on a long car trip and no matter what you think of Edward when the book starts, remember that in the end he'll have learned his lesson. I dare not say more for fear of giving the ending away!

Escape From The Carnivale -- this book is also read by Jim Dale. If you've listened to the Harry Potter books first you'll notice some familiar voices, even if they are for different characters. Even still this book was really well done. Mermaids and pirates galore, both boys loved these. They also informed Nana they could see mermaids in the ocean.. (Nice one Jay!)

Olga Da Polga -- these are written by the famous Michael Bond, all you Paddington fans should know who he is! The book was MARVELOUSLY done. We were captivated from the first word, and I'll admit that we spent a bit of extra time sitting in the car just so we could listen to a "little bit more". Olga is a tale telling guinea pig with a wild imagination, and I strongly suspect if our piggies hadn't all ready been named one of them would have become an Olga! There's no link for an audio version of this book because it's an English book and hard to come by. We borrowed the first one in the series from our local library and were VERY disappointed to see that was the only audio version they had.

Animal Ark: Puppy In A Puddle -- this is another great one that the kids loved. It's about an animal rescue shelter and two children who help out. The two main characters uncover a ring of puppy smugglers and help return a lost dog to it's rightful home. The only downside was the the narrator used some thick accents and at times we had difficulty understanding her.

Chronicles Of Narnia -- There are two versions of these out. We personally own the BBC version which is a full cast presentation that has been dramatized as well. Meaning that these would not be unabridged versions of the book. They are well done and great to listen to. There is also an unabridged version of these books, as well as abridged, but non-dramatized versions. It's all depending on which version you'd prefer to listen to. Here's a couple of other links as READS only has two of the books: Audible has the whole set, and Amazon does too. This is the set we own, I'd purchased mine a few years ago at Abc Distributing. The boys enjoyed these as well.

Charlie Bone Series -- this is an interesting series of books. We found them at our local library and read them before we listened. They involve children who have super powers, each one's power more unique then another. There are good-guys and bad-guys with these powers. Each side fighting to return their side to power. There is, as expected, an antagonist in the books which include a grandmother, a few aunts, a school master, and the typical school bully, but there are more as well. Not all the children in the books have these unique abilities, and each book, while still about the same children focuses on a new problem. Through out each book you'll meet a trio of interesting cats, Charlie Bone, his best friend, his best friend's dog Runner Bean (too cute), and a smattering of other characters. Don't be fooled if your library (or other source) tries to tell you that the series ends with Book 5, it goes on for at least two more books!

We also have a large wish list over at including titles like The Penderwicks (awesome book, even for boys), The Penderwicks On Gardam Street, The Water Horse (yes the book the movie was based on!), Eragon (don't want to wait get them over at Audible), Ginger Pye (I remember this book from when I was a kid!). Our list is ever growing!

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