cover image Small Steps

Small Steps

Louis Sachar, , read by Curtis McClarin. . Listening Library, $30 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-307-28223-1

Though Sachar's companion to Holes isn't as intricately crafted as that Newbery winner, McClarin's multi-layered reading helps the author's words shine on this audiobook that improves upon the print reading experience. The accomplished actor brings to his characterizations a sassy energy and verisimilitude that injects Sachar's dialogue and descriptions with some memorable zing. The story picks up with 16-year-old Armpit, one of the kids who served time at juvenile detention center Camp Greenlake with Stanley Yelnats, two years after their release. Armpit has been taking the titular small steps to a respectable life—holding down a landscaping job, finishing school, being a protective best friend to a young neighbor with cerebral palsy. But when X-Ray, a fellow Camp Green Lake detainee, comes up with a risky get-rich-quick ticket-scalping scheme, Armpit temporarily gets lured into taking a few steps backward. A contrived twist of plot has him appropriately righted again, saving the day (and a teen pop star). Listeners will no doubt compare this to its quirkier, more dream-like predecessor, but will be entertained by McClarin's vibrant work on this detour from Green Lake. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)