Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yo ho ho!

A couple of years ago, school library staff in Oregon created a children's choice award and named it after perhaps the state's most famous writer, Beverly Cleary. It's aimed at readers too young for the ORCA, and my outreach team works hard each fall to get the nominees into the hands of readers in Multnomah County's poorer schools. So, I like to have a passing familiarity with the nominated titles; one of this year's is Megan's McDonald's Judy Moody and Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt. Long, long ago I listened to the first Judy Moody book and found it fun and entertaining -- and as this installment was only a little more than an hour, spending a little time with the squabbling Moody siblings was no burden at all.

(Listening also brought me over the 400-hour mark for 2011, and was my 50th audiobook. I'm in "Megaphone Shout" territory in the Whisper Stories in My Ear challenge.)

The Moody family is spending a weekend on Okracoke Island (Stink calls it Artichoke Island), and as they step off the ferry they are greeted by a pirate who invites the kids to participate in a pirate treasure hunt. The winner will get a sixteen pieces of eight, a gold doubloon, and the chance to sail on a pirate ship. The clues are rhyming puzzles and will take the searchers all over the island. As they are figuring out the answers, Judy and Stink notice another brother and sister team and identify them as their chief competitors. After a day and a half, the Moodys are triumphant; then they realize that the other kids helped them solve one or two of the clues and so offer to share their pirate booty with them. Oregon kids will like it, but probably not as much as they'll like Nubs (my early guess of the winner).

This being a book for less experienced readers, there's a lot of dialogue, short sentences and repetition. Not always the best combination for an audiobook. However, Barbara Rosenblat does just fine. (She's so calm and experienced, she probably recorded this in an afternoon!) She reads slowly enough that following along with the book is possible, but the story never drags. When things get a little exciting or scary, she picks up the pace.

Her characterizations are welcome as they create additional interest in what is really a simple story. Stink has a slightly hoarse voice, while Judy's is lighter but still child-like. Neither are child-ish, Rosenblat never attempts to be a kid while she is narrating. Parents are simply adults without quirks, while the pirate's (Scurvy Sam, aka Captain Weevil) voice is suitably gravelly and ever-so-slightly menacing. It actual brought back fond memories of some other pirates I've heard Rosenblat voice (and not this unfortunate title). I am impressed at Rosenblat's range -- it's not every narrator who can successfully transition from a stinky boy to a condescending French concierge.

Is the title of this book meant to refer to the this old movie? It might be fun for families to watch after reading the book. I watched it recently (I don't think I'd ever seen it before) and it is pretty darn funny (although kinda long).

[The image of a 1798 Spanish doubloon is in the public domain and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

Judy Moody and Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt by Megan McDonald
Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat
Brilliance Audio, 2010. 1:10

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