Happy Holidays from Recorded Books

Recorded Books will be closed for the holidays 12/24-12/27 and 12/31-1/3. We have lots of fun things planned for after the holidays, so we’ll see you then!

Happy Holidays from Recorded Books!

One-Click Audio Wins Award of Excellence

One-Click Audio from Recorded Books Named an Awards of Excellence Winner by Tech & Learning

one-click audio

Recorded Books’ One-Click Audio has been selected as an Awards of Excellence winner by Tech & Learning magazine. One-Click Audio was recognized by a panel of over 30 educators as a winner in the Best Upgraded Products category.

With One-Click Audio, school libraries can offer teachers and students access to a wide selection of downloadable audiobooks. Users can download audiobooks to a computer and then import the files to an mp3 player, such as an iPod, if they prefer to listen on the go. The upgrades to One-Click Audio include a new download manager, an improved “holds” system, and faster search and download capabilities. Accessible by patrons inside or outside of a subscribing school or library, One-Click Audio serves as a digital alternative to cassette and CD audiobooks.

According to Scott Williams, Recorded Books President, “Audio support is an important element of fluency strategies for struggling readers. We are pleased the judging panel recognized the significance and convenience of a platform like One-Click Audio in providing options for audio support to teachers and students.”

One-Click Audio is available through yearly subscription plans. Its Media Center features an easy-to-use interface with streamlined navigation. Fast downloads, automatic software updates, and support for a wide range of portable devices provide a unique user experience.

“Now that the use of technology in schools is no longer a novelty but a reality, it is no longer about the promise of what a product can do; it is about the proof,” says Kevin Hogan, Editorial Director for NewBay Media’s Tech & Learning Group. “This year’s Award of Excellence products were tested by edtech experts from the New York City Department of Education and the University of Michigan, our top T&L advisors, and more. These companies can be proud that their products were selected as winners by this prestigious team of judges.”

For subscription pricing for One-Click Audio, email oneclickaudio-at-recordedbooks-dot-com.To learn more about Recorded Books K-12, go to http://www.recordedbooks.com/oneclickaudiok12.

Remembering Eleanor Coerr

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of author Eleanor Coerr. She was 88. Best known as the author of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes/, she got the idea for the book after living in Japan and learning about Sadako Sasaki’s story.

Read School Library Journal‘s obituary for Coerr HERE.

Purchase Coerr’s books on audio below:
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes – Narrated by Christina Moore
Sadako is born in Hiroshima shortly before the atomic bomb is dropped. She grows into a wonderful, high-spirited girl with dreams of becoming the fastest runner in her school. One day at school, she has a dizzy spell and collapses. At the hospital, Sadako and her family learn that the atomic bomb sickness has begun to affect her. To pass the time during her hospital stay, she begins to build origami cranes. First published in 1977, Eleanor Coerr’s Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is a classic of the modern age. Based on the life of a real girl who lived and died in Japan, Sadako’s heartbreaking story endures as a tribute to the spirit and bravery of a young girl facing terminal illness. Coerr’s work speaks to the injustices of war and the dream of world peace, imparting the message that human life is fundamentally the same, regardless of race, religion or nationality.

The Josefina Story Quilt – Narrated by Barbara Caruso
In 1850, young Faith and her family move from Missouri to California. As they pack their covered wagon, they can only take things that they really need. Faith loves her chicken, Josefina, and wants to take her along—but Josefina is only a pet. When the wagon is packed, Faith starts to say good-by to her chicken, but Pa hands her a cage. Josefina can go!—if she is good. On the long trip, Faith sews patches for a quilt. When she gets to California, each piece will remind her of something that happened on the trip. As Faith sews tiny stitches, Josefina clucks softly. Soon Faith has finished several patches—some are pictures about her pet. The only problem is Josefina can’t stay out of trouble! For years, I Can Read Books™ have entertained children as they encouraged independent reading. Filled with excitement, fun, and danger, The Josefina Story Quilt, will delight young listeners while they discover how boys and girls lived long ago—and will inspire them to read for themselves.

Interview with Origami Yoda narrator Mark Turetsky

origami-yodaRecently, one of the narrators for the very fun book by Tom Angleberger, The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda, agreed to share some secrets about the recording of the audiobook.

Read on to see how Mark Turetsky became a narrator, and why he had to re-record some sections because his Yoda impression was “too good”!

1. How did you become an audiobook narrator?
I’m a trained actor through NYU’s drama program at Tisch School of the Arts. But I’m also something of an English lit nerd. In my senior year of college, I figured out that I had done enough English Lit classes to earn an English minor, so I guess that audiobooks was a perfect fit, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

I started working in voice overs in 2005, and got a day job that happened to be in the same building as Recorded Books’ studios in New York City, and asked Claudia Howard, the producer there, to listen to a narration I’d done for a holocaust museum up in Maine. A few months later, she invited me in to audition for an audiobook about Houdini. About six months after that, she called me up and offered me the part of Jake in Wendy Mass’ Every Soul A Star, which became my first audiobook.

2. What is your favorite part of narrating audiobooks? Least favorite?
My favorite part of narrating an audiobook is narrating an audiobook! Seriously, how cool is that? It allows me to stretch myself as an actor, since I get to portray every character in a book, and also, I take a lot of pride in having the privilege of telling these great stories.

My least favorite part is keeping my energy up over the course of a long session. It’s very easy to get exhausted when you’ve been reading aloud for 4 hours straight. But you never, ever want to give the listener less than 100%, because if you start to feel bored with the text, then the listener will feel bored, too.

3. For most audiobooks, one narrator voices all the characters. How was this one different for you, since you did not voice all the characters? What about the format made it unique?

Doing an audiobook with multiple narrators forces you to rein in some of your characterizations. If you give a character a funny voice, and then the narrator who’s playing that character doesn’t have one, then it can be pretty jarring for the listener. Also, all of the narrators are recorded separately, and you don’t always get the chance to hear the other narrators’ takes on their characters. In order to portray the different characters in this book, the most I did was to change my tone of voice. To really lean into the dialog to get across the emotions of the characters, rather than their voices.

4. How did you prepare to narrate this book? Did you speak to any of the other narrators?

Well, the first thing I always do is read through the book once just for pleasure, and write down any words that I’m not 100% sure how to pronounce. In the case of Origami Yoda, there was only “Quavondo” and “van Jahnke” on my list. Once that’s done, I re-read the book a few times. Usually, I’ll also make a list of all of the characters with speaking roles in the book, in order to prepare voices for each of them, but since I wasn’t doing any big vocal changes for Origami Yoda, I didn’t end up doing that. I heard from Jenny Selig, our director, that most of the other narrators pulled up Yoda clips on YouTube in order to get their imitations right, but I’m a big enough Star Wars fan that I didn’t have to do that myself.

Are you a Star Wars fan? Have you made an origami Yoda?
I am a Star Wars fan, absolutely. Though mostly a fan of the original trilogy. That’s got the sentimental value for me. When I went in to re-record the bits that I got wrong on the first go-round, I got back a note from one of the editors that I needed to re-record some Yoda dialog. It said something like “your Yoda imitation sounds too good. Trust me, I’m a huge Star Wars fan.” So I grudgingly muddied up my Yoda imitation, in order to stay true to the book. I did, however, get to do a good one, since I got a line of Harvey’s dialog as Yoda, and they say in the book that his imitation is much better.

I haven’t made an Origami Yoda myself, yet, but Tom Angleberger, the author, sent me one. He’s cool like that.

5. There are lots of illustrations in the print version of the book. Do you think you get those ideas through in the audiobook version even without the pictures?

That’s one thing that I don’t think will ever fully come across in the audio version. Tom’s illustrations are a lot of fun, and they really get across the idea that the book you’re reading is a case file that’s been passed around between different people. A lot of it gets across in having different voices reading the different contributors to the case file, but to my knowledge, there’s no good way to portray the illustrations. The spirit of the illustrations could come through in the prose that we’re reading, but it’s a real shame that, for instance, there’s no way to record Origami Yoda atop a trash can full of baked beans, which is one of my favorite illustrations. I did have the pleasure of recording the text of the super-cheesy school fun night flyers that show up in the book. Hopefully, the cheesiness of the flyers comes across in the cheesiness of my narration!

6. You voice Tommy, the character who puts together the Case File on Origami Yoda. Do you agree with his thoughts about origami Yoda, or do you think more like Harvey?
That’s a tough one. I’m a great admirer of people like James “The Amazing” Randi and Joe Nickell, who have over the years investigated a lot of paranormal claims and exposed a lot of sloppy critical thinking and a few outright frauds. But that’s not to say that Tommy isn’t doing the right thing by evaluating his evidence in what he perceives to be a neutral way. Where he gets tripped up in his thinking is that he desperately wants Origami Yoda to be “real,” since then it means that Sara likes him. But, despite his own personal bias, he’s dedicated himself to trying to find the truth, whether or not it confirms what he wants to be true, and he’s even invited someone who disagrees with him to form a sort of scientific peer review process.

That’s not to say that I agree with Harvey. Harvey does a good job of evaluating the evidence from a skeptical point of view, and I tend to agree with his conclusions, but he doesn’t need to be such a jerk about it! He’s hurting his own cause by belittling everyone who doesn’t agree with him, especially in his attempts to shun Dwight from his social circle. Also, his own personal biases against Dwight cloud his judgment . He seems to think that Dwight is both dumb and yet capable of coming up with some really good advice. If Origami Yoda is just a “green paper wad,” then Dwight deserves a lot more credit than Harvey gives him.

7. When you were Tommy’s age, was there a kid in your class like Dwight? What was he like?
I don’t know that there was necessarily a Dwight in my social circle back in middle school. Unless it was me. What’s the old cliché? If you can’t spot the sucker at the poker table, it’s probably you? If you can’t spot the Dwight at the middle school, it’s probably you?

8. What do you think about Dwight? Is he really dumb, or is he smarter than everyone thinks?
I think Dwight is by far the smartest kid in the book. He’s also the most socially inept, which leads the other kids to think that he’s dumb. They’re not the same thing, and that’s, I think, one of the major themes of the book. If, in fact, Origami is just a voice that Dwight puts on, then Dwight comes up with some pretty spectacular advice.

9. Which part of the book is your favorite, and which do you think reveals the most about Yoda and Dwight?
My favorite part of the book is Origami Yoda’s advice to Kellen about what to do when he splashes water on his pants. I don’t want to give away the ending to this great bit. Let’s just say Origami Yoda’s advice is a bit unconventional, but probably the best advice you can follow on such short notice. It wouldn’t be my solution to the problem, though.

I think Origami Yoda’s advice about the spelling bee reveals the most about Dwight and Origami Yoda. They give out some great advice, but if you’re mean to them, that advice might prove much too clever and subtle for your own good.

Also, I’m pretty sure I know how Dwight was able to make crackling sounds while delivering his book report.

10. So once and for all…do YOU think origami Yoda is real?
No comment.

Thanks, Mark!

National Book Award Winners Announced

mockingbird-NBAThe National Book Award winners have been announced and we’re proud to say that we’re the exclusive audiobook publisher of National Book Award for Young People’s Literature winner, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.

Click the link above to see the complete list of winners and honorees and read interviews with many of the authors. (Recorded Books also publishes lots of the honorees, and the Adult Fiction winner Lord of Misrule.)

Kirkus has this to say about Mockingbird:

“This heartbreaking story is delivered in the straightforward, often funny voice of a fifth-grade girl with Asperger’s syndrome, who is frustrated by her inability to put herself in someone else’s shoes. Caitlin’s counselor, Mrs. Brook, tries to teach her how to empathize, but Caitlin is used to depending on her big brother Devon for guidance on such matters. Tragically, Devon has been killed in a school shooting. Caitlin, her dad and her schoolmates try to cope, and it is the deep grief they all share that ultimately helps Caitlin get to empathy. As readers celebrate this milestone with Caitlin, they realize that they too have been developing empathy by walking a while in her shoes, experiencing the distinctive way that she sees and interacts with the world. Erskine draws directly and indirectly on To Kill a Mockingbird and riffs on its central theme: The destruction of an innocent is perhaps both the deepest kind of psychosocial wound a community can face and its greatest opportunity for psychological and spiritual growth.”

Congratulations to Kathryn and all the award winners and honorees. What do you think of the selections?

Motivate! Author Interview Series: Zombiekins Author Kevin Bolger

Recently, we accepted questions for Zomebiekins author Kevin Bolger. He took time out of his very busy teaching and writing schedule (even during report card time!) to answer some questions for us about teaching, writing, and the future of Zombiekins.


In what ways does being a teacher make your job as a writer easier?
I get to spend all day every day studying books with kids, and kids with books. I can’t imagine any better training for a wannabe children’s book writer.

How does it make it harder? Ever try to write a novel in your “spare” time?

Do you read instructions?
Usually not until it’s too late—just like Stanley.

Can you give us any hints about Zombiekins’s next adventure?
The stuffed animals that Zombiekins attacks in chapter 5 of the first book come back to life as zombie stuffies themselves at the three-year-old birthday party of Stanley’s little sister Rosalie. Zombie toddlers—’nuff said.

Do you find it harder to write a funny scene or a scary scene?
If I had to write one at gunpoint, I guess I would pick something scary. A lot of the funniest bits just come to you, but it can be pure agony to have to come up with something funny to fill the gaping holes between your glorious inspirations. Whereas suspense writing is just nuts-and-bolts. In Zombiekins, most of the suspenseful bits actually build up to a gag or punchline. But I am pleased whenever I hear about eight-year-olds who won’t read certain chapters unless someone else is in the room with them.

Do you ever make yourself laugh while writing?
No, mostly cry. Sure, I admit it, sometimes I’m amused by my own witticisms. But then there is just so much work, work, work involved in transforming them into a book.

From the books, it seems as if you’ve been to a few tag sales. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve bought?
Actually, I loathe garage sales (shopping of any kind, really). I live in a neighborhood that holds an annual garage sale which might be one of the world’s biggest—it covers a whole electoral district, and the ten-block-radius around its epicenter, my house, is as crowded as a mosh pit. I spend the whole weekend hiding under my bed.

Where did the idea for Zombiekins come from?
My stock answer is that as an elementary teacher for 15 years, naturally I always wanted to write a book where all the kids got turned into zombies.

Really, though, I noticed how kids were drawn to purportedly “scary” books, but most of those books were actually structured more like mysteries – kid hears a wolf howl outside his window, finds a paw print on his lawn, and spends most of the novel slowly uncovering the existence of a “monster” that only makes a cameo appearance at the book’s climax.

I wanted to write a book that was structured instead like a movie thriller, with an ever-present sense of danger and a lot of “scares” throughout. Only it had to be a spoof because that is what I write. I thought it would be funny if all the kids in a school turned into zombies but the teachers didn’t notice. Then the name “Zombiekins” occurred to me and I thought, cha-ching.

Have you always been a “fan” of zombies?
Nope. I am not really that big on horror movies at all. Call me a ’fraidy cat. I rented a couple zombie flicks as research for the book, but they were not my cup of tea and I don’t think I watched any of them right through. I am not really that big on research, either.

Do you test out material on your students? What do they think of having an author for a teacher?
Stupid me, I wrote Sir Fartsalot in secret and never shared it with my students until after I had a publication deal. Then I took some time away from the classroom to write Zombiekins. But now I am back teaching and we are “studying” Zombiekins in my grade 4/5 class. It is pretty cool for me to be able to spy over their shoulders as they read and prod them for reactions.

They were pretty interested to read my books and I suppose they think it is cool that I wrote them. But they still give me a hard time like they would any teacher.

Kevin, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us! We hope everyone who hasn’t yet checked out Zombiekins will give it a listen and read!

West Point Case Study on Transparent Language

West Point Case Study Concludes Transparent Language Measures Up with Rosetta Stone
To download and view the entire case study PDF, CLICK HERE.

June, 2010 marked the 27th annual CALICO conference, (Computer Assisted Language
Instruction Consortium). The conference was hosted by Amherst College, and like previous CALICO events, it offered a forum for discussing cutting-edge educational technologies. The three-day conference explored new ways in which educational technology can be leveraged to support effective language teaching and learning.

Researchers and instructors from the United States Military Academy at West Point were in attendance at CALICO 2010. They presented a case study on student attitudes and performance using CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning) programs built by Transparent Language—which can be purchased through Recorded Books K–12—and Rosetta Stone.

The Study’s Conclusions:
Both programs made instruction time more efficient, since students could demonstrate
progress and maintain language skills outside of class [but] … the Rosetta Stone one-size-fits-all approach was insufficiently flexible for instructors’ unique needs.

Motivate! Author Interview Series: Vaunda M. Nelson and Kevin R. Free

Bad News for OutlawsNext in the Motivate! Author Interview Series, we have both an author and a narrator! You’ll have a chance to submit questions to author of Bad News for Outlaws, Vaunda M. Nelson, and award-winning narrator Kevin R. Free.

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson received the Coretta Scott King Award for her children’s book Almost to Freedom. Here she relays the extraordinary story of Bass Reeves, a lawman in the Old West who escaped slavery to become one of the most successful U.S. Marshals in history.

Two Utah classrooms will be joining you in submitting interview questions to the author and narrator, so ask away! All questions must be submitted by Sunday, November 7, 2010.

Comments are closed – thanks!

WINNER of the Wimpy Kid Announced!

greg-heffleyRecently, we asked you to tell us what you’d do with a life-size Greg Heffley cutout. Congratulations to Karon Bybee of Lakeside Elementary in Texas, grand prize winner of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid contest!

Karon’s idea:

I am the literacy coach at Lakeside Elementary and would love to involve the school in a Wimpy Kid week. I would like to move the cut out around the school to pop up unexpectedly, so all the classes could participate in activities. We might read from Wimpy kid at lunch to peak interest. I would like for my struggling readers to watch the interview with Jeff Kinney and then create their own interview with Greg. We would broadcast the interview on the morning announcements to kick off the festivities. I would like to have my younger students draw themselves as a character to add into a wimpy kid adventure, which we would write either as a shared book or an individual story depending on the level. I would like to turn their adventures in to a podcast for parents to view. Finally to end the week with a celebration on “your favorite wimpy story” and I’ve been known to create some wimpy cookies.

We really love Karon’s plan to share Greg with the whole school through morning announcements, and involve everyone by writing their own wimpy adventure. Sharing these stories with parents and others through podcasts and videos is a great way to get parents involved and hopefully get students reading at home, too. (And we’d like to go on record to say that while the promise of cookies did not sway our vote, we’d still love it if Karon would send a few our way!) Karon will win a host of goodies for Lakeside Elementary, including the coveted cardboard wimpy kid.

We wish we had more than one wimpy kid to give away! Alas, there is only one Greg Heffley. So we also picked three runners up, who will each win one CD audiobook and one print book for one of the books in the Wimpy Kid series. Those winners are:
Kathy Scott (Hallsville), who suggested that Greg Heffley write a column for the school newspaper
Becky Norgard (Elim Christian Services), who planned to involve both younger and older students in a skit where the kids could see cutouts of themselves palling around with Greg (how cute!)
Shellie Swanson (Bayfield School District Library), who suggested using Greg as a basis for a character education discussion for middle schoolers

Because there were just too many great entries, we also picked two second runners up, who will each recieve one copy on CD of one of the Wimpy Kid books.
Cheryl Ford (Rock Hill, SC), who hoped Greg would inspire her kids to reach a 75 books a year goal (wow!)
Jerry Jarrell (Frank Stone Middle School), who suggested Greg hang out at the book fair and answer kids’ most burning questions

We hope you all still move forward with your great wimpy kid plans. If you do, please share with us! To read all of the wonderful submissions, click here.

Just a note…

Just a note…we’re received so many great entries for the Wimpy Kid contest that it’s going to take us longer than expencted to go through them all! Expect an announcement of the winner by Wednesday.

In the mean-time, we encourage you to read through the comments for some great ideas that you can incorporate into your classroom, whether you have a cardboard Greg Heffley or not!

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