Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

“The Simpsons” Meets YA Lit

The Simpsons, Season 23: Episode 6: “The Book Job”
(Watch it temporarily on Hulu here)

In this spoof of the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Homer, Bart, and a gang of Springfieldians plot to “gang-write” the next tween fantasy publishing sensation  so that they can strike it rich.  Featuring guest voices of Neil Gaiman and Andy Garcia, this episode layers laugh-out-loud YA lit references on top of the familiar heist setup from Hollywood.  In an all-too-real subplot, Lisa Simpson endeavors to write her own novel, but can’t get past the procrastination temptations of online word games and CD re-organization (NaNoWriMo much?)  This episode should be required viewing for anyone involved in YA lit who likes to laugh.  Two thumbs up!

Write your favorite moments in the combox below.

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Homer: (After finishing writing the book) I just hope we put in enough steampunk…whatever that is.

How an Audiobook Speaks Up for Itself

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Audiobook Week, graphic from http://www.devourerofbooks.com/As the Stacked book review blog has informed me, we’re in the midst of Audiobook Week.  Personally, I am a traditionalist when I read full-length works.  Although I [clearly] have become interested in reading blogs, articles, and forums online, I still prefer the paper-and-ink experience for novels, textbooks, etc.

I try to keep an open mind, though.  The first audiobook I “read” was The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring, starring the delightful voice of Rob Inglis.  Shortly thereafter, I received a gift of Good Omens on CD from a friend.  I’ve been “working” on this one for months.  I really enjoy the storyline and the narrator’s approach, too.

However, I still can’t seem to find harmony with the format itself.  I only listen to audiobooks in the car, on long trips.  [After all, if I have free time at home, I’d rather read a book in my hands.]  In the car, I tend to fumble with the multiple CDs, get mentally distracted, and often forget to play the audiobook at all on smaller trips.

I do, of course, believe that it is important for public libraries to stock audiobooks, as much as their budget will allow.  I know many people who prefer this format for many reasons: multitasking (something I am clearly unable to do – see above), listening simultaneously with a friend, and reading impairments such as dyslexia.  Additionally, my public library is fortunate enough to have a small collection of Playaways, pre-loaded MP3 devices with the most popular titles, in addition to the lengthy shelves of audiobooks on CD and cassette.

Thanks to Google Reader, I found an article on Stacked from 2009 that gave me a better understanding of how the strength of an audiobook operates on a different set of criteria than does a paper book.   According to Stacked:

Although listeners can have a preference for one of these, they can all be done well or all be done poorly. But what makes a good audio book and what makes a bad one? If you’re listening to one and aren’t sure, consider these:

  • Are the words pronounced correctly? Is the narrator using an authentic accent? One of the presenters mentioned a book set in Wisconsin where the narrator had a mid-Atlantic accent and it really killed the book for her as a Wisconsinite. The Dairy Queen, on the other hand, has an authentic Wisconsin accent.
  • Is the book complete with a clear, crisp sound? Is the volume consistent?
  • Do you hear juicy mouth sounds? Is the narrator’s voice hoarse?
  • Has the producer done a good job if material was dubbed not making it obvious? Is the text being repeated or omitted or cut too short? Are chapter breaks awkward or poorly timed?
  • Are names of the title, author, and narrator correct? One of the presenters said that there was one book where the reader mispronounced the name Nguyen and a student with that name was turned off entirely (for those of you unsure, that’s “win,” and the reader said “nah-guy-en”)
  • Does the reader mostly match the age and experience — at least in sound — to the main characters?
  • The readers connect to the text and are generally excited by the reading and discovery in the beauty of the story and the language.
  • Is music used effectively? Walden — the one by Thoreau — apparently has fantastic music interludes and was lauded for that reason.

Once I finish listening to Good Omens, I’ll be looking out for some recommended audiobooks at Stacked and Devourer of Books, two blogs that are providing a marathon of audiobook reviews and 101-information this week.  Be on the lookout for your next listen!

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