If you have a soccer player, then you know that Labor Day Weekend means tournaments. My family and I will travel across the state this weekend so two of our boys can play in the Virginia Cup. Unfortunately, even though it’s the same tournament, the boys are playing in cities an hour apart. Bah! Thank goodness for helpful grandparents.
[BTW, if you want to learn about the origins of Labor Day, check out Dianne Salerni's post: The Surprising History Behind Labor Day.]
For me, a road trip requires a good audio book. I prefer to listen to kid lit around little ears, and earlier this summer we tried File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket. Michael Kindness and Amy Kingman, the podcasters over at Books on the Nightstand, recommended it.
Suspicious Incidents presents itself as a top secret report from a covert organization. In it, Lemony Snicket, a member of the “organization,” shares thirteen short stories of suspicious cases he solved in the town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea. Each story ends before the mystery is solved, but readers can find the solution for each case at the end of the book.
Snicket uses words with multiple meanings to create humor and irony, or just to have fun. For example, one character says:
“Even something top-of-the-line bottoms out once in a while.”
The mini-mysteries include plenty of vocabulary building words. My kids don’t pause to look words up, so I loved the added explanations. For example, during a disagreement, Snicket’s supervisor accuses Snicket of being snide when he should be sensible. Snicket explains:
Snide is a word which here means the kind of tone you use in an argument. Sensible is the tone you should use instead.
The phrase “a word which here means…” appears at least twice in every story. The asides enlighten without ruining the narrative flow.
Finally, I enjoyed how the book encourages attention to detail and critical thinking. After each story, I paused the audio book so my kids and I could discuss our ideas for solutions to the cases.
What I didn’t like
A different person reads each story, meaning Lemony Snicket has thirteen different voices. Some performers did a better job than others, and I found it odd to have the same character performed by different people. I would have preferred different voices for the various quirky characters.
Since we listened via audio book, we couldn’t “flip” to the back to check the solution for each mystery. Instead, we had to wait until the very end and listen to all the solutions at once. It took a few weeks for us to finish the audio book, and by the time we heard the end, I had forgotten some of the beginnings.
Overall, I enjoyed this clever middle grade book, but I recommend it for reading in the old-fashioned, hard copy format, so that one can easily navigate back and forth between mysteries and solutions.
Can you recommend a good kidlit audio book for the last road trip of the summer? How about a good mystery?
Thanks for stopping by!