Thursday, July 3, 2008

Somewhat a-peeling

Cranky library catalog Syndetics (the people who bring you book covers and journal reviews) didn't cooperate with the cover of Peeled, so let's see what a neighboring library's cover looks like: A bit small, but it will do.

This is another of Joan Bauer's charming, accessible novels about smart, (mostly) confident teen girls. Hildy Biddle (who must be named after Hildy Johnson, yes?) is trying to become an ace reporter on her school newspaper, The Core, following in her late father's footsteps. The high schoolers come across some mysterious doings in their apple-growing community, made even more bizarre by the coverage by the local newspaper -- which doesn't seem all that interested in pursuing the story of the eerie events. Hildy and her team do, though, and begin to uncover unscrupulous activities by real estate developers along with some dubious journalistic ethics. As The Core gets closer, they are shut down by the school administration, but our intrepid reporters won't be stopped: They start an underground paper, Peeled, and end up saving the day ... renewing a sense of small-town community in the bargain.

The narrator is Kathe Mazur (pronounced Kay-ta) and two years ago I listened to her read another Joan Bauer book, Best Foot Forward. I'm not at work today, so I can't check out what I said about her then ... suffice to say, I'm curious. Because I'm not that enamoured of her reading style, yet I can hear that she knows how to portray the smart, spunky Bauer heroine believably and, yes, appealingly. She just didn't seem that strong in her interpretations of the other characters: There were the boys, and the girls and the adults -- interchangeable, indistinguishable, and not nearly as interesting as Hildy. As a result, I had trouble remembering when I'd been introduced to the supporting cast and what they were doing in the story at that particular moment.

Mazur also sounds like there's something else in her mouth besides her teeth, tongue and palate -- she sounds "gluey." Despite this, I can definitely see the appeal of the story -- it is simple, yet satisfying. However, not much about this audiobook stood out for me, despite its nomination, I can't call it amazing.

For more audiobook terminology, check out this article by Mary Burkey. At ALA, Mary gave our committee an informative and inspiring presentation about critical listening. All of us are now seeking "the balance" between story and production, and identifying what it is that puts an audiobook out of balance. We'll probably be saying that more now, for me, it's replaced the tired "amazing." Mary is so knowledgeable about audiobooks: Here's her blog: Audiobooker.

No comments: