So what do you do when you have 2 kids and thoughts of the beach? Road Trip! How do you keep those kids occupied? DVDs, MP3′s, and other assorted electronics? Since we had a captive audience, we thought it would be good to listen to some audio books. I would really like to thank Sync for some great free audio book downloads this summer. If you haven’t had a chance to see this site, they have 2 free audio books per week during the summer. You’ve got to grab them when they are available and then you can listen to them whenever you want. Here’s the link. There is still one more download available (they seem to be having a few technical difficulties this week). What’s nice about this site is that you get a chance to pick up books that you may not have heard of. I’ve also noticed that audio books are great for the reluctant reader in your family as they make reading more accessible. Here are the books we listened to:
Guys Read: Funny Business edited by Jon Scieszka
OK, we were stuck in the car for quite a while so when we started listening to these short stories, something happened. The kids stopped bickering. They stopped asking “are we there yet?” Peaceful driving through some scary mountain roads.
Guys Read: Funny Business is a collection of short stories read by different narrators. All the stories have their merits, but a few stories stood out for us. I need to apologize for not taking notes on the titles of the stories (it was dark in the car) so here are our top picks:
1. I think our favorite had to be the one about Papa Red – the really mean grandfather who enjoyed playing nasty tricks on his family. There’s some pretty gross hot dog humor there and we were laughing our heads off.
2. The Travis the Turkey story – Told from the point of view of a boy who felt like Travis was taking his place in the family. Quite funny, especially when the boy thought that the turkey was out to get him.
3. Will – This story kind of reminded me of The Incredibles. A special school for kids with “talent” and a bit of crazy superheroes. Lots of fun and special costumes and of course, really smart kids.
4. Remember those reading assignments you got as a kid? Or if you ever had one of those creative teachers that made you actually write an author and ask questions? This story had a really lazy kid ask an author to answer the standard boring questions. The back and forth letter writing was quite entertaining.
This series is great for the reluctant reader. The stories are interesting and have just the right amount of gross out factor combined with humor. Well done.
Rating: – A-
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud.
What an awesome book to listen to on a very long car trip! The narrator was incredible. He was able to change up voices and input just the right amount of pomposity into Bartimeus’ character to make him both believable and humorous. For those looking for a book in a similar vein to the Harry Potter series, this story of a young apprentice magician is a must read. I would recommend the audio version to children ages 9+. The parents in the car enjoyed the story, too.
Rating: – A
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Skulduggery Pleasant started off as an amusing audio book. It was quite funny at first and we were giggling as we listened. The reading of the will scene was very entertaining and had that British comedy feel to it. I think that the first half was much more entertaining than the second half and the middle did lag a bit.
Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton and a detective. He kind of reminded me of a Tim Burton “Nightmare Before Christmas” character. Well, that’s how I pictured him. I loved Stephanie – she was smart, precocious, and a real likable heroine.
This audio book had one of the longest villain monologues ever. Overall, Skulduggery Pleasant had some good entertainment value. I would recommend this for kids 10 years old and older.
Rating: (3.5) – B+
If you have a captive audience trapped in a car for many hours at a time, consider listening to an audio book. The right narrator and story can entertain the entire family.
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