Saturday, August 25, 2007

A dearth of cassettes

I'm starting to feel panicky as the fall publishing season starts up. In the next two months, there's probably one more big delivery from Recorded Books, and two (?) from Listening Library. We'll get smaller offerings from other publishers as well. We'll consider anything that arrives by October 31 (although my Listening Library parcel arrived a good 10 days after it got to our chair, so I guess we'll go by when she gets it!). There are about 28 or 30 nominated titles, and I still haven't listened to at least eight, maybe more. Right now, I'm slogging through a 20+ hour title on CD, so I can feel the anxiety burbling. (I'm also behind at work, but that's another story.)

In an effort to maximize my listening time since joining Selected Audiobooks, I've been listening to two books simultaneously -- one on CD and one on cassette. The publishers only send me CDs, so I've been borrowing cassettes from our library's collection. However, since the beginning of our fiscal year, my library is no longer buying cassettes of j and ya fiction. (Frankly, it's about time, we decided to do that.) At the same time, of course, most publishers aren't publishing books on tape anymore. So, I'm running low on cassettes to listen to. And, I'd really like to find a few of the unread nominated titles to listen to, so I can feel a little more productive in that area.

Undaunted, I'm branching further afield for my books on tape. There are three other library systems in our immediate area, so I've rustled up a few more that way. I've put in a few ILL requests as well, so we'll see if there's any luck that way.

My first successful find was Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer. This is left over from last year (and, in fact, ended up on the Children's Notables list), but one of our committee members found it early this year and nominated it. After one tape, it seems far too young for teen listeners -- I'm thinking it would be perfect for my 4th-5th grade book discussion group -- but there's no denying that it's highly entertaining, and very well narrated.

Fletcher Moon recently received his official badge after graduating from a detective school run by a former FBI agent. He solves schoolyard crimes (a stolen organizer, an unfaithful boyfriend) in his small Irish town (called Lock? Can't tell exactly by listening.), but he's moving up to the big time as he tries to solve the mystery of the missing curl -- a lock of hair from some pop starlet, purchased on e-Bay by a mean-girl 10-year-old named April. She's offered to pay him in cash, rather than candy bars. Fletcher, nicknamed Half-Moon because of his short stature (and Stature -- Juvenile Fiction is one of this book's subject headings, you gotta love that!), believes that Lock's first family of crime, the Sharkeys, are somehow responsible. He also thinks that Red Sharkey has stolen his precious detective badge, missing after he solved the case of the stolen organizer.

The reader, Sean Patrick Reilly, brings a lovely Irish brogue to the "hard-boiled" (let's say medium-boiled, in this instance) language of detective fiction, as he narrates Fletcher's story. He's pretty good at pre-adolescent mean girls and seen-it-all cops as well. So far (and, I'm not far at all ... just at Chapter 4), I can see why this made the Children's list, but I don't think this will even hold much interest for even the youngest of YALSA's patrons -- 6th graders.

It does make for a pleasant change from the atrocities in Sudan, however.

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