The fall season has brought a bounty of anticipated audiobook sequels for fans.
Philip Pullman has capped off the His Dark Materials trilogy with Lyra's Oxford, not so much a sequel as a companion to the three fantasy novels. This latest adventure—essentially a short story—takes place two years after the events that close The Amber Spyglass and contains numerous intricate tidbits that close listeners will find a delightful challenge. The author reads here, along with many returning members from the full cast that made Pullman's previous audiobooks memorable. The CD package contains a map of Oxford, something Pullman has said his fans have long requested. (Listening Library, unabridged, one CD, 45 mins., $14.95 ISBN 0-8072-1996-7, ages 10-up, Nov.)
Listeners can now hear what became of Nory, star of Nory Ryan's Song, in Patricia Reilly Giff's follow-up to that book, Maggie's Door, skillfully performed by Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan. In moving passages that also document elements of Irish and Irish-American history, Nory and her neighbor Sean give separate accounts of their long and dangerous voyage to New York City from the Emerald Isle. Flanagan's subtle, authentic accent is a treat. (Listening Library, unabridged, two cassettes, 3.5 hours, $18 ISBN 0-8072-1797-2, ages 8-12, Sept.)
Charlie Bone heads back to Bloor's Academy for another term filled with mystery, magic and fantastic adventure in Charlie Bone and the Time Twister by Jenny Nimmo, read by Simon Russell Beale. This time around, Charlie finds himself face-to-face with a student who attended the school in 1916. (Listening Library, unabridged, four cassettes, 6.75 hours, $26 ISBN 0-8072-1898-7 ages 8-up, Sept.)
Eleven-year-old Harriet M. Welsch is on the case in Harriet Spies Again by Helen Ericson, read by Anne Bobby. With permission from author Louise Fitzhugh's estate, Ericson continues the adventures of the young Manhattanite with a penchant for writing down all her observations (and theories behind them) in a spy notebook. (Listening Library, unabridged, three cassettes, 4.5 hours, $25 ISBN 0-8072-1641-0, ages 10-up, Sept.)
Tris's Book, the second volume in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic quartet, makes for an exciting listen in this dramatic reading by the author (as narrator) and a full cast. Trisana and her friends must use their magic to defend the coast of Emelan from vicious pirates on the attack. (Full Cast Audio, unabridged, four cassettes, six hours, $25 ISBN 1-932076-24-7, ages 10-up, Oct.)
When the kids are away, the dolls sure do play. That's the case in The Meanest Doll in the World by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, read by Lynn Redgrave. In this lively sequel to The Doll People, dolls Annabelle Doll and Tiffany Funcraft find danger and adventure when they accidentally get transported to their owner Kate's school, and then to another child's house—home to a wicked princess doll named Mean Mimi. (Listening Library, unabridged, three cassettes, four hours., $25 ISBN 0-8072-1788-3, ages 8-12, Sept.)
Got a world music aficionado on your gift list? Christmas Around the World is sure to fill the bill. As the title suggests, this compilation spans the globe for favorite holiday songs performed by noted world music artists. Some of the holiday treats include a flamenco-style "White Christmas" by Los Reyes (France); "Aguinaldo Jibaro" by Pepe Castillo (Puerto Rico) and "Joyeux Noel" by New York Twoubadou (Haiti). (Putumayo Kids [www.putumayo.com], CD, $16.99, all ages, Oct.)
Reminder:The spring audio/video announcements will appear in the Feb. 2, 2004, issue. For information about submitting children's titles, contact Shannon Maughan, (724) 776-9482 orsmaughan@ zoominternet.net.