cover image THE FALL OF FERGAL


Philip Ardagh, , read by Joe Barrett. . Listening Library, $18 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8072-2331-4

Barrett employs an Irish brogue to relate the Unlikely Exploits (the name of a proposed trilogy of tales) of the very unusual McNally family. Fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events will find much to like—and compare: dark humor, text passages that address the listener directly, asides pointing out vocabulary or plot points. But Barrett's simultaneously chipper and tongue-in-cheek approach matches the more silly than sinister air of Ardagh's (the Eddie Dickens trilogy) work. Listeners know right off they are in for a wild ride when young Fergal McNally falls 14 stories from a hotel room to his death in the opening lines of the story, replete with a funny description of said event. Of course, the circumstances that brought the McNallys to the Dell Hotel—a sibling is a finalist in the Tap 'n' Type typing contest—are already giggle-worthy, as are the secret powers/quirks of the other McNallys and the people they encounter. And the tragedy that, um, befalls Fergal provides the perfect segue into a sequel. Ages 8-up. (May)