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Giving others a turn to read aloud

April 13, 2006|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

LISTENING Library's notable list of audio books is ever expanding. Here's a selection from a treasure trove of recent releases for older children and adults. All of them are available at

The Miraculous Journey

of Edward Tulane

Three-CD set: $27.95; ages 8 to 12

Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo's deeply moving, beautifully imagined book about a self-absorbed toy rabbit's unexpected lessons in loss and love, learned far from the upscale home of his fond first owner, is perfectly matched by Tony Award-winning actor Judith Ivey's vivid audio performance.

Unlikely Exploits #1 (The Fall of Fergal)

#2 (The Heir of Mystery)

#3 (The Rise of the House of McNally)

Three three-CD sets: $25 each

Ages 8 to 12

At first you may be reminded of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," but Philip Ardagh's tales about the poor but unusually gifted McNally children are uniquely skewed, funny and just a tad edgy, with wonderful weirdness, including the author's breezy asides to readers, lurking around every corner. Broadway actor Joe Barrett captures each and every odd delight.

Count Karlstein

Five -CD set, $35; ages 7 to 15

With its echoes of the Brothers Grimm and Edgar Allan Poe, Philip Pullman's richly woven spookiness about a wicked Count's plan to sacrifice his young nieces to the Demon Huntsman on All Souls' Eve comes alive in a radio play-style production with a cast of accomplished actors and sound effects.

A Dog's Life, The

Autobiography of a Stray

Four -CD set: $30; ages 9 to adult

Theater and voice-over actor Wendy Dillon finds all the nuanced pain and joy in Ann M. Martin's extraordinarily beautiful novel about by a homeless dog named Squirrel and her long road traveled, told in Squirrel's unforgettable own words.

I, Coriander

Six-CD set: $34; ages 10 to 16

British stage luminary Juliet Stevenson performs Sally Gardner's eerie Dickensian fairy tale set in an alternative Cromwellian London, where an intrusion from the dark and dreamlike world of faerie shatters a young girl's comfortable life and sets her on a strange journey of discovery.

Video releases

The Thief Lord

Fox Home Entertainment

DVD: $15.98; ages 7 to 14

Two orphans run from mean relatives and end up in Venice and join a band of homeless kids led by the good-hearted "Thief Lord" for a fantasy adventure involving an antique merry-go-round with strange powers. Cornelia Funke's best-selling fantasy novel comes to the screen with suspenseful atmosphere, special effects, an appealing young cast and a cameo by Vanessa Redgrave.

The Adventures of Brer Rabbit

Universal Studios

Home Entertainment

DVD: $22.98; for the family

A stellar voice cast (Danny Glover, Nick Cannon, D.L. Hughley, Wayne Brady, Wanda Sikes) and zippy animation

with an old-school look enliven Julius Lester's retelling

of the traditional Uncle Remus tales about clever Brer Rabbit getting the best of some

slow-witted predators. Viewers can have their wits challenged with two cut-above interactive game extras.

What Do You Do With the Mad

That You Feel?

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

Anchor Bay Entertainment

DVD: $14.98; Ages 4 to 7

Mister Rogers is no longer with us, but his invaluable lessons in early childhood development continue on air and in DVD releases from his show, offering children and parents positive reinforcement, coping skills and a gentle expansion of horizons. In these two 30-minute episodes, Rogers takes the scariness out of angry feelings by suggesting ways kids can defuse them through words, music, physical activity and a short trip to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Includes a visit with the cast of the stage show "Stomp" and a tour of a factory that makes paper.

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes...

and More Stories About Families

New Video/Scholastic

Video Collection

DVD: $14.95. VHS: $9.95

Ages 4 to 9

Another release in Scholastic's DVD-video series based on children's books, each with its own distinctive musical score, narration and animation style. The title story here is author Rose Lewis' tale of her adoption of a little girl from China, narrated by Mia Farrow. Also: Cari Best's "Three Cheers for Catherine the Great," about how a Russian grandma receives birthday presents from the heart, and "Five Creatures," in which a young girl observes her family -- three people, two

cats -- in unexpected ways.

An eccentric stop-action

animation, "Uncle Elephant," based on an Arnold Lobel

story and set to music, is a DVD extra.

40 Greatest Kid Concoctions

Time Life Inc.

DVD: $12.95. (Available April 25)

Ages 8 to 14

Want to make Gooey Gunk, Treasure Stones, a Water Balloon Yo-Yo, Sidewalk Chalk, a Magic Art Board? Those recipes and many more are featured in this mix-it-up how-to for kids based on the "Kid Concoctions" books by John and Danita Thomas. The authors do mini-demos with raw ingredients and finished results; the accompanying booklet provides detailed instruction.

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