Help Me Help A Friend

I am friends with a couple who just had their sixth and seventh children, premature twin boys that they just got to bring home.  Preemies are tough, two of them are tougher, and the five kids they already had, ranging in age from 13 to 2, are a bit of a handful as well.  So they already had a lot on their plate when, a couple of days ago, the two-year-old accidentally nearly blinded his twelve-year-old sister with toilet bowl cleaner.  She’s healing nicely, but the commonest way for their family to spend evenings during the summer is to watch movies together, and she can’t easily do that now.  So another friend and I had the idea to get her some audiobooks.  She isn’t much of a reader, but we got her the audiobook of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and she loved it.  I have since given her Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies.  I’m trying to find other good, recent YA–focusing on that with an SF bent–that she and her older sister might enjoy, especially that is available as an audiobook.  Suggestions are welcome.

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  1. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, makes a great exciting read for a girl in recovery. It’s the first in a series, but it has its own arc and a satisfying ending (and the sequel will be out in September).

  2. Tim Curry does the audiobook for Garth Nix’s Sabriel, which is an excellent story, and, as you might imagine, he does a great read of it.

  3. Dropping some recommendations I’ve gotten elsewhere here so I don’t lose them:

    THE THIEF by Megan Whelan Turner
    THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION by Nancy Farmer
    THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS by E. Lockhart

  4. I’d think that Coraline by Niel Gamen would also be an obvious choice.

    It’s the “recent” part that throws me the most. Anyways, I’ll throw out some suggestions mostly from my teenage years and you can ignore them if you desire.

    The Alanna, Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. One of my 7th grade teachers first introduced me to the fantasy genre by way of showing me this book where the main character was named Alanna. Tricky teacher.

    The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Actually, anything by Robin McKinley is beyond comparison. Hero and the Crown is kind of a pre-quel to The Blue Sword, but I couldn’t immediately find anything but an audio-casette format.

    Eva by Peter Dickenson. Uhm, is that a rude suggestion?

    His Dark Material series by Philip Pullman. Probably the more “recent” one I could suggest.

    Man, it’s hard to find teen books in audio format. Really weird.

    Anyways, I’ve got to go to the work thing. I’ll see if I have more suggestions later.

  5. I suggest Ursula K. Le Guin’s GIFTS, and the sequels, VOICES and POWERS. These are available at audible.com. Each features young protags and does young readers the favor of refusing to talk down to them. Superb.

  6. Alanna: Yeah, I thought of McKinley and Pierce, but need to be available in audio format knocked them off the list. I’ve read THE BLUE SWORD and THE HERO AND THE CROWN. Good stuff. I like THE GOLDEN COMPASS because of the extended metaphor for the evils of circumcision, but beyond that don’t much care for HIS DARK MATERIALS.

  7. Eugene, they are available in audio! Aside from the links I included, you can also find some at the library.

    San Antonio Public Library actually has the cassette version of Hero and the Crown. Of course, who has cassette players any more? No such luck on The Blue Sword audiobook, though. Except that you can find a cassette version from ebay.com for $8.

    San Antonio Public Library also has the whole Lioness Rampant series in audio format, either as a audio download or as a CD.

    I quite enjoyed His Dark Materials, though more so after the first book, but I didn’t quite see the circumcision metaphor. Well, until you mentioned it. Hee.

  8. I can’t believe I just referred to you as Eugene. Damn you, corrupting powers of the internets!

  9. I should have clarified: I meant they didn’t turn up on iTunes so I could get them very quickly, although it looks like the Pierce you recommended, which I’ve heard of but haven’t read, is on there.

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