cover image The Secret History of Tom Trueheart

The Secret History of Tom Trueheart

Ian Beck, , read by John Curless. . HarperChildren's Audio, $25.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-121498-1

From his opening utterance of "Once upon a time..." British actor Curless's polished yet friendly voice prepares listeners to be whisked away to the Land of Stories, where the bulk of Beck's inventive fantasy-adventure unfolds. The Trueheart family is known in those parts for starring in some of the world's best known tales. Tom Trueheart's six older brothers—all named Jack—and their father Jack before them, routinely received letters of assignment, or story starters, from the Story Bureau. The missives sent them off to the Land of Stories to rescue princesses or battle knights or giants. With each adventure finished, the Truehearts reported back to the Bureau, who committed the events to paper. But on the eve of Tom's 12th birthday, all his brothers go missing in the Land of Stories at once. The Bureau decides that Tom, with some help from a sprite guide, is the only hope of saving his family—and the stories. Tom accepts the mission and soon learns that the Jacks have been kidnapped by a rogue (and jealous) story deviser named Ormestone. Listeners follow Tom through familiar territory such as "Snow White," "Cinderella," "The Frog Prince," "Rapunzel" and, ultimately, "Jack and the Beanstalk," all given an exciting freshness by Curless's energy and enthusiasm, and Beck's thoroughly entertaining device. Happily the ending leaves room for a sequel. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)