We did a lot of listening on our drive to Canada and back, as well as during the driving around while up there. First up, The Monster’s Ring by Bruce Coville. This was entertaining, very well performed, and also not too long-just two discs. A boy goes into a magic shop and gets a ring that turns him into a monster. It’s a classic timid boy becomes big and powerful story, with the very fun twist that he becomes an actual monster. It was funny and magical and the kids are definitely interested in reading more in this series about the Magic Shop.
Mrs Piggle Wiggle’s Farm was my choice because I loved the Mrs Piggle Wiggle books when I was a child. We had read or listened to one of the others previously, but it seems like the ages they are now (5 and 8) are perfect for them. In case you are not familiar (I assume everyone is, but turns out my husband wasn’t!) Mrs Piggle Wiggle has a cure for every common childhood affliction–not listening, being careless, being messy, picky eater, take things apart, and so on. In this one the children go to stay on Mrs Piggle Wiggle’s farm where something happens that will cure them. There is no magic in this book (there is in at least one of the others), which I really like. Also, even though I read these as a child, they are actually from the early 1950s and so fantastically dated that we all laughed and loved them. We also enjoyed the wonderful, ridiculous names of all the characters. This was wonderfully read aloud by Karen White, and was definitely a family listening treat.
Although it’s a classic I wasn’t sure about listening to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but it had the allure of being read by Jim Dale so we gave it a try. I have never read this before (!) and man, Lewis Carroll was a trip. It’s kooky to think that this was a book for children, but at the same time it was a pleasure to listen to such creative language and writing. And Jim Dale is an amazing reader and brought the familiar verses of the book to life. I honestly thought the kids were bored or not enjoying it, but they insisted we keep listening, so I guess they did like it. I suspect that, for me at least, hearing this was better than reading it. Definitely recommended.
I’ve mentioned before that we are big fans of the Humphrey series by Betty Birney. I was so pleased, then, to see that we had another book to listen to her, although this one is entirely different than Humphrey. The Seven Wonders of Sassafrass Springs is set in the 1920s in the south. Eben lives in a small town and longs for adventure. His father challenges him to find seven wonders (as in “of the world”) right there in their own small town. If he can, in one week, then Eben’s father will let him take a trip on a train to Colorado to stay with a cousin. Eben begins talking to people in town and discovering all kinds of secrets and stories that have been right there all along. I really enjoyed this and it was so different in style and tone than our other choices that I was happy we had it along. It’s the sort of book my son would never pick up off the shelf to read, but having it on in the car he did enjoy it. Some of the wonders and stories were very funny, and the ending was marvelously touching (in a way that warmed my husband and I, but likely did not move the children.)
Magical, funny, classical, and historical–we were intently listening for many hours all together. Such a good way to share stories as a family!