As you hit the road for summer vacations, I’d like to highlight a few new audiobooks that can help the time pass. Last year I wrote about family entertainment in the car, so this year I’ll focus on some newer audiobooks that are just terrific.
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Jonathan Stroud’s newest series, Lockwood & Co., starts off strong with The Screaming Staircase. In an alternate, modern England, psychically sensitive children and teens are the only ones who can see the ghosts that are plaguing the city. Narrator Lucy has moved to London and joined a psychic investigations company made up of two other teens. When their first job together ends in disaster with a burned down house, the company finds itself is in dire straits. But then a new client offers them a windfall if only they’ll visit the most haunted private house in all of England. Stroud combines spooky ghost stories with deadpan humor and ends up with a terrific read. For more fun from Stroud, try The Amulet of Samarkand, one of my all-time favorite audiobooks about the contentious relationship between a young magician and a djinni. (ages 8-12)
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a fun read for a wide range of ages. Mr. Lemoncello, the famous game maker, has sponsored the new town library and invited a dozen 12-year-olds to spend the night there before it opens. He constructs a game in which the kids must solve intricate puzzles in order to find their way out of the building by the next morning. There is no true jeopardy in the story – no monsters or mortal terror – and they only real antagonist is one mean kid. But excitement is high due to the fun and complex puzzles, teamwork, and interactions among the players. Plus, who would love spending the night in a brand-new, whiz-bang, high-tech library, solving puzzles with your friends? (ages 8-13)
Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi
Last year Paolo Bacigalupi, author of the excellent and intense YA dystopian novels Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, released a book for a middle grade audience: Zombie Baseball Beatdown. After their baseball coach attacks them and tries to eat their brains, 13-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe realize that something is amiss at the local meat processing plant: zombies. The action scenes are terrific, full of zombies and even zombie cows, but just as in his books aimed at teens, there is more here than meets the eye. With discussions of immigration laws, racism, factory farming, and more, this book has a lot for listeners to chew on (BRAINS!). (ages 10-14)
From Texas with Love by Dan Gutman
Here’s a perfect book for a road trip. In the fourth installment in The Genius Files series, From Texas with Love finds twins Coke and Pepsi still on the run from mysterious and nefarious villains as they drive from Graceland in Tennessee to Roswell, New Mexico. Dad loves driving his new convertible Ferrari and Mom insists on stopping at every roadside tourist attraction, while the kids focus on outwitting their enemies. Laugh-out-loud funny and full of hair-raising adventure and geographic trivia, this is a delight for the whole family. (ages 8-12)
Don’t forget about the library’s downloadable e-audio resource: Overdrive. It has a growing selections of audiobooks for adults and children that can be downloaded directly to your iPhone or Android device or to your computer. Some children’s audiobooks recently added to our Overdrive collection are Lemony Snicket’s Who Could That Be at This Hour, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, and Rick Riordan’s Demigod Files.
Drive safely this summer, and have a fantastic vacation!