Gary D. Schmidt, , read by Jesse Burns . Listening Library, $30 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-307-28285-9
Political intrigue meets small-town New Hampshire in this story of identity, perseverance and love. Cooper Jewett works hard on the dairy farm where he lives with his grandfather. But it's the only life he knows and a life he loves. When his beloved grandfather dies, leaving him alone, Cooper intends to keep the farm running, remembering his grandfather's phrase of fondness for him, "You're my first boy, Cooper, my first boy." But keeping up with school, milking, chores and cross country practice is running Cooper ragged. And when a local senator comes campaigning through town, along with the U.S. President, a mystery begins to unfold, and it turns out that "first boy" may have more than one meaning. Burns has a youthful-sounding voice and an enthusiastic approach, but he takes a while to get the pacing of his performance right, ultimately overcoming a slow, halting read and easing into a rhythm with dialogue. Schmidt's tale has its share of contrivances and quirky characters, but the compelling premise and Cooper's genuine dedication to farming—and to the people who love him—will help listeners stick around. Ages 12-up.
Reviewed on: 01/16/2006
Hardcover - 197 pages - 978-0-8050-7859-6
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-312-37149-4