Guest Review of The Ranger’s Apprentice

We’ve been featuring the audiobook reviews from guest blogger Jana Warnell, an elementary school librarian in Montana. You can read her review of Clementine here. Check out more reviews and librarian insights from Jana at her blog,

Ruins of GorlanThe Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
Running Time: 7.75 hours
YALSA Select Audiobook for Young Adults

I have several people who have recommended The Ranger’s Apprentice series to me, but I have never been that interested in reading them. Next year, however, I am going to be a middle school librarian and I really felt I should get at least the first book read so that I can talk with students who are interested in this series. Amazingly, I won the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan, in a contest from Recorded Books! I wasted no time in listening to the book.

The audio book is narrated by John Keating. He is British and very good at accents. He does one of the characters, Halt, with a Scottish type accent that is wonderful—it really brings the character to life. For the other characters he mostly changes the pitch and tone of his voice. This works well for the story which is the start of a series that now has eight books in it.

The main character is Will (one of my favorite character names—characters named Will always turn out to be so noble). He is an orphan who finds himself assigned to become an apprentice to a ranger named Halt. The rangers are servants of the king, but are each assigned a fife and a baron to serve under. They are basically spies.

The book takes us through the start of Will’s training, but also introduces us to another orphan, Horace. We see his training as a warrior apprentice—and follow the ups and downs of he and Will’s friendship. I was glad that, although Will was the main character, the author gave us another character to get to know. I hope in future books Will and Horace continue to work together.

I love it when narrators of audio books treat the audience as intelligent and John Keating does. I felt like I was part of the story, not just a listener. It was easy to immerse myself in the world of the book and I was sorry to see it end. I look forward to listening to more books in the series.

Next week, check back to read Jana’s review of Newbery Honor Book The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.


Guest Blogger Jana Warnell Reviews Clementine

Jana Warnell, an elementary school librarian in Montana, will be guest blogging for us to kick off the back-to-school season. Check out more reviews and librarian insights from Jana at her blog,

ClementineClementine by Sara Pennypacker
Running Time: 1.5 hours
Interest Level: K-5 , Reading Level: 4
Audie Award Winner
AudioFile Earphones Award
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Are you looking for a quick story about a quirky girl? Clementine is for you. Clementine was written by Sara Pennypacker and is a fun book about a third grade girl and all the trouble she gets into. She is among the ranks of everyday girls in fiction, like Ramona and Junie B. Jones (but she is way smarter than Junie, which I love).

I won the audio book in a contest from Recorded Books. I had already read the print edition, but knowing what a unique voice Clementine is, I couldn’t wait to listen to the book to hear how the narrator handled her.

The narrator, Jessica Almasy, was excellent (she has an amazing body of work with Recorded Books, I look forward to hearing more of her books!). She had a younger voice, but not a babyish voice. While listening I was easily reminded why I loved Clementine in the first place. It was fun to hear how her personality came through in Jessica’s voice.

Clementine is a story that could easily be read “down” to it’s audience, but Jessica never does that. She makes you feel right there inside Clementine’s head. And it is a fun place to be! There are four books total in the Clementine series [Editor’s Note: Many available on audio exclusively from Recorded Books!] and I recommend them all, in print and audio.

“…with audiobooks, they choose to read.”

In our follow-up visit to White Marsh Elementary, we again got some great feedback from the teachers and students. The kids especially love the Playaway audiobooks.

Check back soon—we’ll be running a series of feature stories Mrs. Cord and Mrs. McGrath shared with us about how audiobooks changed their classroom experience.

The first batch of catalogs, which features more about the audiobook experience with real teachers and students, was mailed out today—so look for yours in the mail soon! (And don’t forget to tell us what you think!)

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Audiobook success at White Marsh Elementary

Recorded Books recently visited White Marsh Elementary School in Mechanicsville, MD, where 5th grade teachers Jennifer Cord and Laurie McGrath use audiobooks for reading instruction—whole class, independent reading, and literature circles. Librarian Peggy Ekhaus is also an audiobook enthusiast.

Mrs. Cord has had success with whole-class listening on audio and individual reading with Playaway. Mrs. Cord told us, “I had a kid jump from a 100 wpm the beginning of the year to 136 wpm today on a fluency test. She’s been using one of the Playaway books and she said, “It’s helping me read faster. I turned up the speed and I’m reading faster in my head so I can hear how I should be reading.” Mrs. McGrath’s students told us how much they like audiobooks because they are able to understand more words and enjoy the books more.

Look for more soon from our visit, including instructions on how the teachers use audio in their classroom and reactions from enthusiastic students. The slideshow below showcases just a few of the great things we saw at White Marsh!

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