Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Audio : Audio Book


Spring 2011 Audio Book
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Producer: Macmillan Audio
CD Price: $14.99

Alyson Noël, author of The Immortals, has given one of that series' characters a chance to narrate her own tale in Radiance. The book follows a dead middle-schooler named Riley as she navigates the afterlife-which, in Noël's hands, looks pretty identical to the world of the living, except for the empty homes of those who are still alive. It sounds like a rather depressing topic for young readers, but Noël uses a light hand and fills her story with humor and liveliness. For example, even in the afterlife Riley has a rough first day at school, develops crushes, plays with her dog, bites her nails, and feels awkward. There are mentions of cheerleaders, and one boy is described by Riley as having "dork shoes." The story opens with a funny quote from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that sets the tone for the book. In addition, fans of more macabre life-vs.-death stories such as modern vampire novels might enjoy reading another perspective on these metaphysical topics. The 4-hour audiobook is read by Kathleen McInerney in a youthful, endearing style that meshes well with the author's words. This is a good choice for interested pre-teens and up.

Editor's note: This review refers to the Audiobook version.

Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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