While some of my students have no problem cracking open a good book over the summer, others might prefer an audio text. That is why when I found the SYNC audiobook website, I was delighted to spread the word (and recorded voices) about great literature available all summer long. I have challenged my students to read (listen) with me all summer!
SYNC has organized a summer full of classics paired with young adult (YA) texts that are similar in theme. Each pairing is available only for a download for a short period of time, but once a reader downloads the MP3 files, the audiobook is available for listening at any time.
The software that makes this offer possible is Overdrive Media Software that can be installed on a computer (compatible with Windows and Mac) or through an Overdrive App on a mobile device (compatible with iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7).
I have already listened to the full cast production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and enjoyed the dramatization. My familiarity with this play (I teach this every fall to my Advanced Placement Literature students) may influence how I think a student hearing the production for the first time might understand the plot. I hope they can follow some of the plot intricacies.
I was surprised that the play was paired with Of Poseidon, a romantic fantasy involving a independent and beautiful Emma and her strange encounters with the incredibly handsome Gaylen. I would have paired this book with Romeo and Juliet because the inferences about clan conflicts are too frequent not to imagine “two houses both alike in dignity, in the fair ocean where we lay our scene.” This debut novel by Anna Banks addresses mermaid lore, the legend of Atlantis, and forbidden love on the Jersey Shore. Unlike the TV show, listeners are 75% into the book before the first kiss; there is a great deal of “raising her chin with his fingers” and “cheek-stroking” to keep romantics hopeful. The reader (Rebecca Gibel) was also excellent, lacing some of the more exclamatory phrases with the right amounts of sarcasm or ruefulness. My only complaint was that this novel is the first in a series. As I got closer to the end of the recording, I began to realize that this novel was the “introductory”, a sentiment seconded by this reviewer:
This book also ends in a most inopportune place. I get it – we’re being set up for the second book – but this book sort of has this massive reveal and then BAM we’re at the end. I’d seen enough people’s reactions, though, to expect it, so I wasn’t quite as upset as some readers have been with the abrupt ending. Still, not a whole lot is resolved in this book, and I have a problem with a book that didn’t seem to have much of a point aside from setting up for the next one. (Merin; Amazon Book Review)
Complaining about a free download, however, seems ungrateful. Like the reviewer, I enjoyed the novel very much, so much that I was annoyed when all the loose ends were not resolved. Obviously, this is one way for SYNC to market additional texts. In this case, the strategy will work; I probably will purchase the sequel.
The schedule for titles downloads during this summer is listed below:
June 6 – June 12, 2013
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, read by Katherine Kellgren (HarperAudio)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, read by Wanda McCaddon (Tantor Audio)
I am looking forward to a summer full of great audiotexts, and I hope my students will take advantage as well. Thank you, SYNC!