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Check out kids' author Coville before he hits town

Posted: Friday, March 27, 2009

Author alert! Popular kids author and audiobook producer Bruce Coville will be visiting Juneau next week - the last time he was here, he played to a packed house. Reacquaint yourself with his spooky, funny, and classic stories, or remind yourself that you're never too old to be read a story from Coville's audiobook company, Full Cast Audio, and its wide range of tales. Here are a few new titles to whet your appetites.

If you like scary stories, take a look at "Oddest of All," a collection of short but eerie stories for chapter book readers. Coville starts by introducing the Lyrans, an alien race which visits a future Earth much worse off than we are so far, giving everyone over the age of nine a vote for the course of humanity's future.

Not scary, you say? How about the story of a boy whose Halloween mask molds itself to his face - in fact, becomes his face? But there's more ... keep reading.

Or do you prefer adventure stories? Try the latest in the Unicorn Chronicles series, "Dark Whispers," in which Cara Hunter's life gets more complicated. Having left Earth for Luster, the land of the unicorns, in "Into the Land of the Unicorns," and then found her way back home in "Song of the Wanderer," Cara is a seasoned traveler. In this third book, she's hoping to unravel the mystery of an ancient war between the unicorns and another race.

Try a classic or two, rewritten with Coville's inimitable skill at highlighting the best parts of a story while keeping the rhythm and flavor of the original.

Or try one of Coville's Shakespeare adaptations - the tragedy of "Hamlet," perhaps, with its many moody, shadowed illustrations and lovely language; or the wacky comedy of "Twelfth Night" with its mistaken identities, romance, swordplay and a great practical joke. Reading these is almost as good as seeing Shakespeare performed.

Those who like listening to audiobooks will find Full Cast Audio productions enchanting, from their outstanding cast of readers to their many family-friendly choices (to paraphrase Coville: Intelligent adults and intelligent children can enjoy listening together without embarrassment). Try "Skybreaker," by Kenneth Oppel, a 2009 Audie Award finalist, which follows the adventures of Matt Cruse (from "Airborn"). Now a student pilot at a prestigious flight academy, Matt is part of the crew that spots a legendary lost airship far above them during a storm. When the rest of the crew is struck with altitude sickness, Matt is the only one left who knows the coordinates of the ghost ship, and is offered a spot on a treasure-hunting airship. After fighting off pirates and testing the limits of their experimental ship, the treasure-hunters are rewarded with the sight of the ghost-ship - bearing a different treasure than they'd ever imagined.

For a twisted fairy-tale, listen to Gail Carson Levine's "Fairest," another Audie finalist, about an ugly girl with a beautiful singing voice whose talents for throwing her voice and imitating others get her noticed by the queen. This is truly a remarkable book to listen to - not only is the story wonderful, but Coville has set the book's lyrics to music composed just for this audiobook, enhancing the feeling of really being in Aza's world.

•••

This Saturday at 7 p.m. at the downtown library, Haines storyteller John Venables will give a dramatic historical presentation in honor of Seward's Day.

The downtown and Douglas libraries will be closed on Monday for the holiday. The Mendenhall Valley library will be open regular hours.



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