cover image Anna and the Swallow Man

Anna and the Swallow Man

Gavriel Savit, read by Allan Corduner. Listening Library, , unabridged, 5 CDs, 6.5 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-1-101-89181-0

Anna is seven years old when the Nazis come for her linguistics professor father. In 1939 Poland, many children are left orphaned or are taken to concentration camps, but Anna finds refuge of a sort by traveling with a tall, thin man, who communicates with birds and speaks in metaphors. Anna and the Swallow Man speak in Polish, German, Russian, Yiddish, and French. Reader Corduner performs these lines with the lightest of accents, flavoring the story and never overwhelming the listener. Corduner’s gentle tone of voice makes young Anna come alive without resorting to high-pitched breathiness. His Swallow Man is mysterious but also comforting, setting up great tension in the story. In his quiet yet firm manner, the Swallow Man teaches Anna lessons of survival, some of which challenge her instincts to be honest and compassionate. Corduner handles the story deftly, simply letting Savit’s words do the work and never hamming it up in his performance. This book is more than simple historical fiction; it is almost a fable about how to live in hard times. Corduner’s performance is also more than simple narration—it is remarkable. Ages 12–up. A Knopf hardcover. (Jan.)