cover image NIAGARA FALLS OR DOES IT? (Hank Zipzer, #1)


Henry Winkler, , read by Winkler. . Listening Library/Imagination Studio, $18 (, two cassettes, 2.25 hrs., $18 ISBN p) ISBN 978-0-8072-1941-6

Winkler, forever known for his role as the Fonz on TV's Happy Days, makes a memorable debut as both co-author and narrator with this fresh and funny novel about a creative boy with potential "learning challenges." Fourth-grader Hank Zipzer tries to be on time for school and do well in class, but it rarely seems to turn out that way. Reading and writing assignments are particularly difficult; his parents believe he's just lazy. But even if he can't get his thoughts down on paper in paragraph form, Hank has some big ideas—one of which backfires magnificently in front of the intensely strict Ms. Adolf. Extracurricular life offers some relief in the form of a kindly supportive grandfather, good pals, a cool clubhouse and a spectacular magic show starring Hank's dachshund, Cheerio. Winkler rolls on a wave of jocularity here, propelling the story at an enjoyable clip. His spirited performance, sometimes sounding out-of-breath with excitement or exasperation, is the ideal vehicle for this tale. And he also does a fine job of bringing it down a notch at story's end, subtly underscoring the message that it's OK to be different. Listeners will look forward to Hank's further adventures. The recording of book 2, I Got a D in Salami, is being simultaneously released. Ages 7-11. (Aug.)