Seek by Paul Fleischman (0-8072-0821-3)
Having listened to this on tape, I can’t imagine reading it. Enveloped immediately by the sounds of the Louisiana swamp, I was captivated by the full cast recording. The story is that of Rob, a senior in high school, assigned to write his autobiography which he does in sound clips. Clips from his radio shows, his father’s radio program, and the voices of his family and friends. It all combines to form the story of a boy searching for his absent father.
I enjoyed the fact that Rob is not what is considered a typical teen. He is an intellectual who reads classic literature, listens to opera, and loves the radio. I would recommend the audio for families traveling with older elementary and even teen boys in the car. The sounds will stay with you long after the audiobook is finished.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
I listened to this one on audio in the car, sometimes driving with tears running down my face.
I had thought that I had this one pegged, a group of girls share a pair of pants for the summer. They serve to tie the friendship and the story together. Fine.
But then I got caught up in the writing which is beautiful. The imagery is inventive and revealing, making the whole story sing, especially in audio format.
And the language led me straight into caring vastly for these different girls, so varied and yet so understandable. The story gives a glimpse into a single summer in their lives that demonstrates that they are human, all make mistakes, and all survive to fix them.
I know that there is a sequel and it will go straight onto my list to be read. This book is for teen girls. Any type of teen girl will find themselves somewhere on these pages.

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech (0-06-029290-3)
The book I just finished, Olive’s Ocean, was also about a 12-year-old girl and her special relationship with her grandmother. But the two books and the two grandmothers are special in different ways.
As Granny Torrelli mixes her soup and makes her pasta, she tells stories about her childhood friend. That relationship mirrors Rosie’s with her friend Bailey, who is blind. Wonderfully, Bailey’s blindness does not slow him down at all, but complicates Rosie’s feelings towards him. The angst and wonder of friendship are captured here among the smell of great cooking.
Boys and girls alike will enjoy this story. It is a fast and easy read appropriate for sharing in classrooms, since it will generate conversations about disabilities, friendship, and grandparents.

Olive's Ocean

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes (0-06-053543-1)
When Henkes is not charming us with the mice in his picturebooks, he is amazing us with the depth of his characterization in his books for older children. Martha, the 12-year-old protagonist, is learning a lot during two weeks of her summer. She learns about wanting to be a writer, about her relationship with her grandmother, about cruelty, and about bravery.
This book will be enjoyed by girls in particular as they watch Martha sort through some confusing times in her summer. It is a story driven more by character than by action, leaving the reader with a quiet, serene ending that is as refreshing as an ocean breeze.