Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recorded Books: The Secret School

 We recently finished listening to a wonderful audio book and I thought you might enjoy a quick review.  We love listening to great books on cd, especially in the van.  Over the summer we have enjoyed quite a few, but it just occurred to me that my thoughts on these audio books might be of help or interest to you!

The Secret School by Avi
Read by Johanna Parker
Audio book by Recorded Books LLC
Age recommendation: 9-12
3 CD's - 3 hours of listening pleasure (which means quiet in the van!)

In 1925 Colorado, 14-year-old Ida Bidson dreams of becoming a teacher, but she knows it won’t be easy. When the school board closes the town’s one-room school, threatening to keep Ida from finishing eighth grade and moving on to high school, it looks like her dream will never come true. Then she and her classmates come up with a plan for a secret school—with Ida as their teacher!
This is a heartwarming story that the whole family enjoyed.  Johanna Parker reads the story in a pleasant and engaging manner, which makes for easy listening.  While our almost teenage daughter was quite sure she was not going to be interested in such a simple juvenile tale, we certainly heard her laughs and giggles as she was drawn into the story.  Our 10 year old Storyteller was the one to beg for the story to continue each time we got in the van - he liked most of the story - except the part where Ida's mom points out that Tom is 'sweet on her'. Yuck.

One of the things that we all enjoyed about this story was the respect and honor that all the adults involved in the tale tale received from the children - even the ones who really didn't deserve it.  We liked the relationship between Ida and her parents and the honesty and love that is evident.  Ida turns to her parents over and over again when she is faced with problems she can't figure out, and while they don't tell her what to do, they offer their advice and support and allow her the freedom to learn and grow. We loved the work ethic exemplified by the children of the secret school, most of all by Ida who gives everything she has to ensure her students succeed - even when it seemed to be a detriment to her own ambitions.

All of the principle characters in this story display a love for learning, willingness to work hard, courage in the face of adversity, respect for authority, loyalty and compassion.  It is said that character is who you are when no one is looking and this group of children prove their character in every way. Even Herbert, the most contrary boy in school, loves and honors his embittered father despite everything he does to push people away.  When it seems like all hope is lost and the secret school will be shut down, making all of the children's hard work for nothing, the community rallies around and we enjoy an almost completely happy ending.

We borrowed this audio book at the library, along with several others.  I went to the Recorded Books LLC website and made a list of their Youth Library offerings and than requested the audio books I thought we'd enjoy. It sure would be so much fun to go shopping at Recorded Books, but since we don't have a library budget, that's probably not going to happen!  They do have a rental service called Recorded Books Direct and a monthly plan service called Recorded Books Unlimited which we might look into when we run out of recordings from the inter-library loan system.

I hope you enjoyed this review, and I'd love to hear about your families favorite audio resources!  sometimes we enjoy good books, and sometimes we just love a good story! We are big fans of  Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, Adventures in Odyssey and Lamplighter Theatre, which we listen to on our local radio station each Saturday. The children  have all but worn out the 62 Bible Stories Alive tape series by Kitty Ann Griffiths called A Visit With Mrs. G - Mum and Dad gifted us with the 'tape of the month' club years ago and it has been their most beloved, most cherished, most valuable gift ever, hands down!  We have loved many of  The Boxcar Children cd's from Oasis Audio, along with Jungle Jam and Friends adventures. These are just a few of our much loved audio resources.
 We'd enjoy being introduced to some of your favorites too!

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  1. Sounds wonderful. Going now to look it up. Just might be something nice for our family to do together in the evening instead of movie night for a while.

  2. Thanks...enjoyed. I used to be better with this and need to pick it up again...thanks for the reminder. We all loved Odyssey from Focus on the Family...and A Christmas Carol


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