Paula Danziger, , read by Danziger and a full cast. . Full Cast Audio, $17.95 (, unabridged, two cassettes, 3 hrs., $17.95 ISBN p) ISBN 978-0-9717540-4-1

For one of the titles on its debut list, Full Cast Audio has chosen Danziger's spunky, heartfelt novel about the close-knit Tate family. An enthusiastic cast tackles the tale, centered around an admirable performance by the young Carmen Viviano-Crafts as 11-year-old Sarah Kate "Skate" Tate. Skate is struggling to find where she fits in as she starts her first year at Biddle Middle School. But no matter how confusing things get at Biddle, Skate can always take comfort in her art (she's an accomplished scrapbook artist, among other things), her friends and her supportive family—especially her Great Uncle Mort (GUM for short). GUM, a free-spirited world traveler, always brings Skate and her family stories, life lessons—and fun souvenirs—from his trips. When GUM dies suddenly, the Tates are somewhat surprised yet pleased that he has requested that "the United Tates of America" carry on his globe-trotting legacy. Viviano-Crafts's reading is halting in a few spots, seemingly in an effort to be more precise in her enunciation. But she accurately conveys the feelings of Danziger's character and handles intensely emotional passages with aplomb. An afterword from the author is included; Danziger also does a fine job in the role of the sharp Mrs. Lipschitz, one of Skate's teachers. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

FYI:Simultaneous release with the Scholastic hardcover.