This annual award will be given to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States. The selection committee may also select honor titles. The Odyssey Award is jointly given and administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), divisions of ALA, and is sponsored by Booklist.
The selection committee consists of nine members: four members appointed by ALSC; four members appointed by YALSA; a chair, whose appointment alternates between ALSC and YALSA divisions; and a consultant from the staff of Booklist magazine who works with audiobooks. The consultant may participate fully in all book discussions but may not participate in voting.
Members of the 2014 Odyssey Award Committee are: Chair Ellen Rix Spring, RSU#13 School District, Rockland, Maine; Catherine M. Andronik, Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, Conn.; Jane H. Claes, University of Houston, Clearlake, Texas; Dr. Eliza T. Dresang, University of Washington Information School, Seattle; Susan Fichtelberg, Public Library of Woodbridge, N.J.; Walter M. Mayes, Girls' Middle School, Palo Alto, Calif.; Hayley Elece McEwing, Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio; Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mount Pleasant, Wis.; Tracy Reid Sumler, Loudoun County (Va.) Public Library; and Rebecca Vnuk, Booklist Consultant, Chicago.
“Scowler” written by Daniel Kraus, narrated by Kirby Heyborne, produced by Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group.
When Ry’s abusive father escapes from prison, Ry summons The Unnamed Three from his childhood, including the hellish Scowler, in order to protect his family. In this gripping and horrific tale, Kirby Heyborne’s flawless narration features humming, clicks, and sounds that are not of this world.
“The nine members of the Odyssey committee were taken to other lands, times, and situations as they listened to hundreds of audiobooks and joyously chose the best,” said Odyssey Award Committee Chair Ellen Rix Spring.
This audiobook, narrated by Kirby Heyborne was named the 2014 Odyssey Winner. Each chapter begins with the minutes remaining until impact. We know it literally means the impact of a meteor, but we also know that Ry's abusive father will return at this moment. Marvin was locked away 9 years ago after horrific emotional and physical abuse to his family. Ry dealt with responsibilities no young child should have to deal with, mainly with the help of three dolls, Mr. Furrington, Jesus Christ, and Scowler. Each has a specific personality and Ry depended on them for strength. After a slow recovery, (the passage of time is shown with flashbacks), the family plans to leave their dying farm in Iowa and start fresh in town. But the meteor strikes and their troubles start again, and Ry resurrects his three old friends. But will they be enough to get Ry through this time? Scowler seems especially bloodthirsty and capable of ruining Ry as well as his father. It was so unpredictable that I truly did not know how this would end until I heard the final words. This is an extremely suspenseful and horrific story. One scene at the beginning is particularly grotesque, and others follow. This is recommended for older teens and adults who enjoy horror and suspense. The audio version is excellent. Kirby Heyborne successfully differentiates the multiple characters and creates exceptional mood for the book. Just don't listen to it alone in a farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere.
2014 Honor Recordings
Broadway wannabe Nate Foster ventures solo to the unknown territory of New York City on a quest for stardom. First-time novelist and Broadway veteran Tim Federle narrates his own work in a laugh-out-loud performance full of heart and self-discovery.
Jennifer's Review:In this debut novel about Nate Foster, the 13-year-old sneaks off from his town just outside Pittsburgh, PA to New York City, after hearing from best friend Libby that auditions are being held for “E.T. The Musical.” They’ve worked out a plan for him to catch a bus there and back in a day so that his parents won’t return from their much needed romantic getaway to find him gone. There is nothing about New York City that Nate doesn’t love, and he feels for once like he fits in. Not like back home where a shrine has practically been built for his athlete brother, and where he is bullied at school. As the clock is ticking, his Aunt Heidi, who incidentally lives in NYC, locates him (thanks to BFF Libby again) at the try-outs and attempts to get him back on a bus heading home before she becomes anymore estranged from Nate’s mother than she already is. What they don’t factor in is that Nate actually gets a call back, and he’s racing off the bus again, knowing that he has just lost the only opportunity to make it home in time without getting caught. But he can’t pass it up. Acting is all he loves. He and Libby have studied and practiced for every acting possibility it seems (she makes him memorize an excuse for traveling on the bus alone which becomes his monologue during auditions, saving the day again), and even have an inside joke using the names of Broadway musical flops as substitutions for swear words. Inevitably, his cover is blown which necessitates the sisters to confront their long-standing family feud. The book is pretty funny while confronting these heavier issues, not to mention skirting around the issue of whether or not Nate is gay. The homosexual theme runs throughout the book and several characters are gay.
I listened to this on audiobook, a 2014Odyssey Honor Award winner, where the author narrates. He’s awesome. This is recommended and maybe even highly recommended for teens 13 and up. It might sneak into the middle grades too, if moms aren’t too hung up on the gay thing (they shouldn’t be, but you know…) As Nate so perfectly states,
My sexuality, by the way, is off-topic and unrelated. I am undecided. I am a freshman at the College of Sexuality and I have undecided my major, and frankly don’t want to declare anything other than “Hey jerks, I’m thirteen, leave me alone. Macaroni and cheese is still my favorite food—how would I know who I want to hook up with?”
I was glad to hear that there is a sequel to this book called, “Five, Six, Seven, Nate!” Readers who enjoy Broadway musicals, humorous stories, or New York City will enjoy reading about Nate.
In this Caldecott Honor book, Jasper Rabbit has all the carrots he wants until the creepy carrots start following him around: when he comes home from Little League, while he brushes his teeth, and even hiding in the shed, until he comes up with the perfect plan to stop their stalking. James Naughton’s narration adds an eerie atmosphere to an enticing story.
A fractured Peter Rabbit tale. Readers expect it to be another bedtime story that explains why the child does not need to be frightened. But Jasper finds a solution for his own fright before the reader is let in one last secret. A really cool feature of the illustrations for this book is the use of the carrot color throughout to show what Jasper Rabbit is supposed to be seeing, rather than creepy carrots. Everything else appears in black and white. Listening to this is a great experience. Along with creepy music and the creepy voice the narrator uses, subtle background noises match perfectly the illustrations.
The surprise ending will delight children. They will remember it for a long time. Highly recommended.
Despite coming from disparate backgrounds, two teens find they have much in common as they explore music, comics, and acceptance in this story of first love. Narrators Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra deliver poignant performances that touch the heart.
This audiobook, narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Molhotra, is a recipient of the 2014 Odyssey Honor Award. It is an exceptionally sweet love story of two 16-year-old teens falling in love for the first time. Park is a nerdy, but cute Vietnamese-American who loves comic books and alternative music. Eleanor is the new girl with the mysterious background. They meet on the bus when "Big Red", so named for her red hair and larger, curvy body, tries to find a seat. "Weird Asian Boy" is the only one willing, though reluctantly, to scoot over and make space for her. The story is told from both Park's and Eleanor's points-of-view, which is how the reader learns about Eleanor's troubled life with an abusive step-father. The two never speak to each other, but Park realizes that Eleanor is also reading his comic books as he reads them on their ride to school. He eventually starts to let her take them home to finish the really good ones like "Watchman". He also lets her listen to the cassette tapes of his favorite music. She is appreciative and particularly careful not to damage anything so that he won't stop letting her borrow them. She knew she'd never have access to them otherwise. Little by little they begin a dialogue together, and find out that they have a lot in common. Eventually, Park takes her hand on the bus and sparks fly for both Park and Eleanor. Their relationship deepens to the point of Eleanor sneaking over to Park's house on a daily basis. Park's family embraces her and know the troubled family she comes from, but Eleanor's family knows nothing of Park. Her step-father already makes disgusting accusations about her behavior and more. Their love is tested when Eleanor must suddenly escape her house and move to another state for the safety of her uncle's house. Can they survive this separation? This tender, yet heartbreaking story will immediately suck in readers who enjoy love stories full of innocence, first kisses, and the electricity of touching your love for the first time . Appropriate for readers in grades 9 and up. The audiobook is excellent. I miss Eleanor and Park.
This beloved classic stars an exceptional girl who develops extraordinary powers that she uses to triumph over nasty parents, wretched friends, and a monstrous headmistress. Dahl’s cast of vivid characters is infused with life by Oscar-winner Kate Winslet’s dynamic performance.
Matilda is an exceptional 5-year-old girl with cruel parents. She despises the way her father favors her brother and calls her stupid. She also hates the way he brags about the dishonest methods he uses to sell cars at his successful car business. Since she is so bright, she figures out a few pranks to play on him to tone down his behaviors, if only temporarily. For instance, she borrows a friends talking parrot and sticks it up the chimney one night to scare her father. Also, she switches her mother’s hair bleach for her father’s purple hair oil one morning causing his hair to turn white. She also put super glue around the inside brim of his hat so that he was unable to remove it once it was on his head. But Matilda is not a mean child. She just wants some recognition from her parents. She gets this immediately from her new teacher at school, Miss Honey, who cannot help but see how exceptional she is. Matilda can read (she has been going to the library everyday where the librarian helps her find more and more books, consequently she has read most of the classics) and she is extraordinary at math, a skill her father refused to recognize. She loves Miss Honey, but the Head Mistress, Miss Trunchbull, is a nightmare. She has an unlimited number of ways to torture the children who have misbehaved or not learned their lessons. Payback begins when Matilda learns she has one more extraordinary talent. Kids will absolutely love reading this book and finding how Matilda is able to vindicate herself. There are so many strong and unforgettable characters. This Odyssey Honor Award version is narrated by Kate Winslet and she does a magnificent job with all the voices, though some of the dialects were a tad hard to follow at times. Naturally, I like that there is a friendly librarian who takes the time to help Matilda, providing a good library message. One interesting thing I noticed while listening is that Dahl often uses prepositions to end his sentences. With. Ha!
Highly recommended for middle grade readers grades 3-6 and as a read-loud for younger children. A.R. Level is 5.