cover image Fairest


Gail Carson Levine, , read and sung by Sarah Naughton and others. . Full Cast Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-934180-08-2

Levine's enchanting, intelligent fairy tale, set in a kingdom devoted to singing, lends itself well to full-cast production; this one features 32 voices. Composer Todd Hobin has set Levine's lyrics to music; Naughton does a terrific job as maid Aza, the narrator, a demanding role that requires near-operatic talents. Homely Aza, abandoned at birth, not only sings like a lark, she can throw her voice and mimic others, a skill she calls illusing. In a chance meeting, the treacherous new queen, whose abrasive voice has a Valley Girlesque quality, discovers Aza's talent and blackmails the girl into secretly providing her voice for all of the queen's public singing. Additional background music augments the many perilous predicaments Aza finds herself in, as well as providing a backdrop to the fairy-tale romance that develops between her and Prince Ijori. This is a rare case: the book itself is superb, but the audio production surpasses it. Ages 10-up. (Reviews, July 24, 2006.) (Dec.)