Good audiobook narrators are trained actors who have developed deep skills in voice and breath management. In many cases, they, along with professional directors, bring interpretation to texts with minimal personal contact with their authors as people. This year, the Odyssey Award, an American Library Association’s honor for best audiobook production for the youth audience, feted titles in which that general rule of thumb happened to not be the case.
Among the three Honor audiobooks, Jason Reynolds’ Ghost (Simon & Schuster), we heard from both author and narrator Guy Lockard, reached the ear from the page via the talents of Reynolds’ friend of 20 years. As Lockard told it from the celebration podium, these two “sat on the same couch, eating tunafish sandwiches” and listening to community members holding forth around them. Lockard knows Reynolds’ characters as thoroughly as Reynolds. The result is an audiobook experience that is thoroughly true to the feelings of the author’s word choices, phrasings, and interpretation of experience.
The Odyssey Award this year went to a production that wasn’t quite as uniquely personal. However, Anna and the Swallow Man (Listening Library) made friends of former strangers author Gavriel Savit and actor Allan Corduner, two generations of men whose own ancestors lived some of the experiences on which this story hinges. This shared community memory of the Holocaust through a child’s interpretive capacity informs both writer and narrator at an innate level where no explanation is needed from one to other for a full listening experience to come to being.
There are two other Honor titles in this year’s Odyssey Award season, each of which contributes an unusual performance experience based on the parameters of the author’s storytelling. Dream On, Amber, by Emma Shevah and performed by Laura Kirman (Recorded Books) involves the need for the narrator to speak as family members whose linguistic heritages include Italian, Japanese, and 21st century American English Tween. Nimona, a graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson, was produced by a full cast—and appropriate sound effects (Harper Audio) to move an original format that relies on visual content as well as verbal from page to ear.
All in all, this year’s Odyssey seems to be a celebration of relationships as much as production skill sets. And, as ever, every title makes grand reading by ear.
Human language involves a plethora of two-way avenues: we listen to others, we speak to be heard; we read language documented in writing and write our own language for briefer or longer preservation. Two-way streets can hold one-way traffic so we don’t create expressed language with the requirement of an audience. We couldn’t, however, listen to others or read their expressions before those others put together the words we meet with ears and eyes. We also speak from what we’ve read, listen to once-written—and never-written—texts. It’s a glorious interchange in which we develop and exercise so many skills that blend and fold and emerge from each other.
The Portable Stories project offers writers a path for reaching original publication in professionally performed audio. To date it’s gone through one full cycle from short story theme announcement, to writing contest submissions and judging, through casting and recording the winner. The second cycle’s writing portion closed last month and announcement of the winning text happens next month. Then it’s on to recording and producing that audio short story, along with the next theme announcement. Continue reading Listening to writers, writing to be heard→
Last week the 22nd year of Audie Award celebrations took place, an occasion in which the audiobook industry recognizes the best and brightest of a year’s worth of production. Back in 1996, the initial event feted works in 15 categories, six of which were three sets of pairings differentiating between abridged and unabridged efforts. The short lists of finalists were…short: three works in each of 13 categories and only the ultimate winners in the other two. Those two, with their single callout each, represented the abridged and unabridged “Internet listeners” choices.
In 1996, the Audio Publishers Association, the award-granting body for the Audies, didn’t even leave an Internet footprint. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine retains the first capture of APA’s online presence as April 1997. Continue reading The Audies Turn 22→
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (TSCPL) in Kansas has been named the 2016 Library of the Year by Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, and Library Journal. The press release (below) and other news stories about the award point to the library’s exemplary engagement with its community. The library is to receive $10,000 at an ALA reception in Orlando, FL, on June 26th.
Glancing at the library homepage makes it clear that TSCPL engages in all sorts of activities, including filling prescriptions for patrons.
Relevant to NSR readers and advocates for digital literacy: the library offers ebooks and digital content, too, including a large collection of audiobooks. According to its web site, TSCPL provides access to thousands of ebooks and audiobooks through OverDrive, Hoopla Digital, BookFlix, and TumbleBooks for Kids. Its econtent offerings also include videos, music, and magazines.
Dreamroll, please! The winner of this year’s Follett Challenge is Ben Eielson Junior/Senior High School, located on Alaska’s Eielson Air Force Base. The school, named after famous aviator, Carl Ben Eielson, earns a $60,000 prize in Follett products and services, plus a celebration May 6 at their school. For those unfamiliar with the Follett Challenge: it’s a yearly contest in which Follett seeks to sponsor the most innovative K-12 programs teaching 21st-century skills to students. Entrants are asked to complete an online application and submit a video describing their program. Congrats, Ben Eielson High, for winning. Good work, Follett, for going the extra mile. Full press release below. Continue reading Congrats Alaska’s Ben Eielson High School for winning the Follett Challenge→
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