Herbert’s Wormhole by Peter Nelsen

This was a weird and funny book we listened to on audio (only 3 discs, which was about right.) Two boys go through a wormhole and wind up in their same town in the future. A future where humans and aliens co-exist in town. The aliens all have Australian accents, which is hilarious.  I enjoyed this but didn’t feel super invested in it.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

I wanted to start this post by saying “it’s been well established that Bronson Pinchot is my favorite audiobook reader” but I see it’s not well established at all here. I don’t have any entries for the books we’ve listened to, but I did find this 2014 end of year sentence: “We discovered The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom and The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle. Bronson Pinchot (yes, Cousin Balkie!) is my new favorite audiobook reader. These books are looooong on audio (10 hours!) but so worth it. He is an amazing reader and the book is hilarious.” So, yes. He is an amazing reader and I was delighted that Paul found us another one of his books to listen to on our way home from Maine last week.  This was a wonderful story and I’m so glad we found it. I would never have picked it up off the shelf based on this cover:  Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley - Used (Acceptable) - 0525428437 by Penguin Young Readers Group | Thriftbooks.com or this one  Circus Mirandus; Paperback; Author - Cassie Beasley  I think it just looks like circus hijinks.  I think this drawing is much more evocative of the magical mysterious lovely story within.Image result for circus mirandus

(By the way, that art is by Diana Sudyka, but I can’t identify where that art originally appears.) [Goodreads says fans of Big Fish, Peter Pan, and Roald Dahl will like this story and I agree with that.]
While I think that Cousin Balki could make any book sound great, I do think this was a great story. There is some back and forth in time so that we understand how the old man in present day, was once a little boy who found the magical and life changing Circus Mirandus, and how he extracted the promise of a future miracle from the Light Bender. In the present day that old man’s grandson is desperate to find the circus and have the promised miracle save his grandpa. Obviously everyone thinks that his grandfather’s stories of Circus Mirandus were just fairy tales, but Micah believes them and is determined to find it and meet the Light Bender.
Heartwarming, sweet, magical, this was a terrific story.

 

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

I’ve read this before but this time listened to the audiobook. We started it as a family but ended with just me and Tabby listening as the boys didn’t like it that much. I enjoyed that this was read by Jack Gantos himself. I think that overall it’s a terrific story, but does take a bit of time to get into. The ending is certainly more exciting than the beginning, but a lot of that might have been the downside of listening to an audiobook–you only go as fast as the person reads. No skimming or racing to get to a good part!

I still think the bizarre history of the town is fascinating and loved the details about the old woman’s hands and “cooking” them and all the people dying.

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Carey Gilbreth

I LOVED this book when I was a kid. And it’s one of those books where certain things in it stuck with me. Whenever I see someone with elbows on the table I want to “Thump” them, whenever I hear boring prattle I want to say “not of general interest”, whenever Paul drives around a corner too fast I whisper in my head “not so fast, not so fast.” (It turns out that last one I never could remember where it especially came from, and it was in this book, which delightful to see. ) Sadly, neither of the kids or Paul has ever read it.
We recently took a trip to Virginia and this was the perfect opportunity to get everyone else in the family to have the same frame of reference as me. To my delight, they all enjoyed this very much (audiobook, of course.) and I was THRILLED to hear it all over again as it’s been quite a while. It really is a fascinating look at not just a large family, but the really the motion study business and Frank and Lillian’s careers.  And of course all kinds of interesting details about the time period.

Anyway, we all liked it a lot and hopefully we’ll listen to Bells on Their Toes next.

The View from Saturday by E.L.Konigsburg

I read this when it first came out and not since. All I could remember was that there are somehow separate stories that all make sense together, but nothing about the characters or the story. Well, it turns out that that is an accurate memory. 4 children are part of a quiz bowl type team and their teacher, Mrs. Olinsky, is always evasive about how she picked these 4. Parts of the narrative are the story as it is happening now-a quiz bowl event with questions. But each question takes us back to a story from the point of view of one of the children, and a story that tells us more about that individual. And indeed, all the children are somehow connected, through a retirement village in Florida, grandparents, dentists, families, and school.

I listened to this on audio with my daughter and we both loved it. I do like a story where you can see all the pieces fitting together.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Immediately after we finished Raymie Nightingale we were able to get the audiobook of Louisiana’s Way Home and start that. Since I had not read this one it was an especially nice choice. The reader was different, but as Tabby immediately pointed out to me, “of course because this book is told from Louisian’s point of view. Also the other book was in 3rd person but this one is in 1st person.” Good point, Tab.
Anyway, we did like this reader and we really liked this story. It had us on an emotional roller coaster.

Louisiana has left Florida with her Granny quite abruptly and driven them to Georgia. A dramatic teeth removal situation has them unexpectedly staying in a motel and interacting with people. Family secrets are revealed and Louisiana has much to come to terms with, including the Flying Elephantes (having listened to it I don’t know if that’s how it’s spelled, but that’s how I saw it in my head) and the curse of “sundering.”

We especially enjoyed the references to Raymie and Beverly and felt the ending was satisfying. And now we can’t wait for the Beverly book this fall!

Blended by Sharon Draper

I feel like I should have liked this a lot more than I actually did. Sharon Draper is a terrific author. She is also the reader for this audiobook and I have to admit I didn’t love her reading of it. This is a pretty intense story about racial identity, racial profiling, divorce. I knew all that going in, but wow things got even more shocking/serious. This is a book I listened to with my daughter, which was nice. We paused the story a lot and had lots of important conversations.