cover image THE CONCH BEARER


Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, , read by Alan Cumming. . Listening Library, $26 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8072-1959-1

Though he sounds a trifle over-eager at first, giving descriptions a perhaps too enthusiastic oomph, Cumming soon hits his stride as narrator of this fantasy-laced story about the unusual adventures of an Indian boy. Twelve-year-old Anand, who works hard at the local marketplace for his financially struggling family, finds himself recruited to embark on a special journey. Anand is to assist a healer named Abhaydatta on a trek into the Himalayas to return a stolen conch shell that has magical powers to its rightful home. Nisha, a young street urchin, tags along on the trip, and throughout, the trio is pursued by the nasty thief who originally stole the shell. The sort of remarkable creatures and dangers that fantasy readers might expect appear along the way. But in addition, many listeners will be riveted to the many vivid details about the exotic settings—a bustling Calcutta/Kolkata and the storied mountain range and its surroundings. Happily, Cumming does not exaggerate the Indian accents while giving each character distinction. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)