Listen to Origami Yoda, you should

Not the finger puppet that counsels students at McQuarrie Middle School (although you could do worse than follow his advice), but the audio of Tom Angleberger's The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Recorded Books, 2011; Amulet, 2010). We listened to Origami Yoda (and its sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back, which is even better) while on vacation last week and highly recommend it to everyone who loves Star Wars and has ever been (or will ever be) in middle school.

Origami Yoda has some of our favorite audio features--namely multiple narrators, only one of which we didn't like, and an episodic plot (we were mostly making short trips in the car). Bonus: it's funny. And for a couple of hours, the kids only argued over who got to read The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee first when we got home (I won).

New words and audio books

Leo made up a new word today:  franxious.  It describes our dog when he knows we are about to go out in the car without him: frantic and anxious.  It also describes me more often than I would like.  I think this word will make it into the family lexicon along with inspectify (to examine something extra-closely) and, my favorite, supertomorrow (the day after tomorrow.  I use this one all the time).  Leo hopes it will take off like the word frindle did in Andrew Clements's middle-grade novel of the same name.

Frindle is my favorite of Clements's many good school stories.  We listened to the audiobook edition read by John Fleming (Listening Library, 2004) on a long drive last summer, and Leo bought a paperback copy to read for himself as soon as we got home.  Both print and audio editions are highly recommended.

KidsPost (7/22/08) has more audio book recommendations for families.  I noticed that The View From Saturday has multiple (probably 4) readers, just in case you don't like one; and the book, by E.L. Konigsburg, won the Newbery in 1997.

Happy listening!

The Andersons Go To Williamsburg--2008

watsons%20go%20to%20birmingham.jpgWe (the Andersons) drove to Williamsburg early Sunday and came back Monday afternoon.  It was a short trip, but we all had a wonderful time (more about that later).  Even the car ride was smooth.  Milly slept a lot of the way there; the rest of us listened to the first half of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis; terrific performance by Levar Burton (Listening Library, 2005).  I think we identified with the Weird Watsons (minus "official juvenile delinquent" big brother Byron).  There's dad Daniel, who likes to "cut up;" mom Wilona, who never got used to the cold in Michigan; middle brother Kenny, the narrator; and his little sister Joetta, sleeping in the backseat.  Our favorite chapters were about Kenny and how he became friends with Rufus (we love Rufus); but it's the family and especially the sibling relationships that are at the heart of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963.

We decided not to listen to the second half of the book on the way home after it became obvious that the Watsons were driving not just to Birmingham, but to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on a Sunday morning, 1963 (I know, I should have suspected it from the start.  I think the book is even dedicated to the four little girls, but I was listening to the audio version which doesn't include the dedication).  Anyway, I didn't think Leo was ready to hear it, but I'm going to make myself read the rest of it tonight.  Highly recommended.

[And Elijah of Buxton next.  I think the structure of EoB, the digressive first half and direct second, is similar to TWGTB-1963's; this time I'll be prepared.]

KidsPost's favorite books on CD

crooked%20kind%20of%20perfect.bmpIn advance of the holiday travel season, KidsPost features books on CD today (12/10/07).  Staff writer Amy Orndorff's three favorites include A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban (Harcourt, 2007), which is now on my to-read list (but not my to-listen list, if I even had one; thankfully, we're not traveling anywhere over the winter break this year).  It's about ten-year-old Zoe, who dreams of playing the piano and has to settle for the organ.  This book has been well-reviewed pretty much everywhere in the kidlitosphere; Elizabeth Bird's review at A Fuse #8 Production is particularly convincing.  Plus, look at the stripey toe socks on the cover!  I'm pretty sure I had a pair of those when I was ten.  You can get your own at (the folks at Harcourt did when promoting the book).

KidsPost also recommended the audio version of The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2007).  How does an audio version of Hugo Cabret, which is told in both words and pictures (nearly 300 pages of them!) even make sense?  I haven't read Hugo Cabret yet, either (it's on the list) but the book's website is fascinating, even if you didn't know you wanted to know about clockworks, cameras, and the early days of French filmmaking.  I didn't!