Author's note: I'm on the road this week with my family and so blogging will be light. The following is a post that I originally wrote in 2008. Looking back over it I would have to say these are still our favorite audiobooks.
One of the ways we pass the time on our long roadtrips (besides the XM radio) is listening to audiobooks. These are our favorites:
Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
A quirky and charming story inspired by a newspaper clipping the author ran across in a scrapbook. During World War II, paintings from Britain's National Gallery were stored in a slate mine for safekeeping. Boyce imagines what the impact that art would have on the citizens of a small town with absolutely hilarious results. This is one we never get tired of listening to and many of our own family's inside jokes have come from this book. It's a winner.
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Kipling's stories are timeless in and of themselves. But their even better when read aloud. Although several editions exist, our favorite is performed by famed British actor Geoffrey Palmer. He brings a perfect performance to these wonderful stories.
Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
The first three installments of the "prequels" to Peter Pan are sheer fun and adventure. Both Pearson and Barry show themselves fully capable of handling the task of writing adventure novels that are geared towards kids. All three are performed by the wonderful Jim Dale who uses a variety of different voices to bring the characters to life. These are especially well-suited for longer road trips.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
These are wonderful books to read aloud as a family. Like many other classic tales, numerous versions of the Chronicles have been made with different narrators. However, the Focus on the Family Radio Theater production (linked above) is by far the best. This is an unabridged dramatization of all seven books and the production is absolutely top-notch. Each installment is also introduced by Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham who provides some wonderful insights into the writing of each of the volumes. Each time we listen to the books we discover something new and wonderful about the land of Narnia.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
This thirteen-volume saga of the Bauderlaire children has something for both kids and parents alike. The books are both tragic and comic at the same time and like many other good audiobooks remain entertaining over repeated listening. Almost all of the books are narrated by Tim Curry (except for the third, fourth and fifth books which are narrated by the author). Curry's performance is absolutely wonderful and like other great audiobook performers knows how to create unique characters with his voice. Just to hear him bring the oft-coughing Mr. Poe to life is worth the listen.