Audiobook Review: Clancy of the Overflow, read by Colin Friels

Banjo Paterson is one of Australia’s best loved and best known poets. His poems provide a rich portrait of rural life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. And there is no better way to enjoy these poems than to hear them read aloud.

On Clancy of the Overflow, well-known award-winning actor Colin Friels reads unabridged versions of 13 of Paterson’s finest poems – including the title poem, Clancy of the Overflow, The Man From Snow River and The Man From Ironbark. Friels’ voice and delivery are perfect for Paterson’s work, being strong and unashamedly Australian, yet clear and resonant.

This is fine listening for audiences of all ages, from ten to adult, and could be used for classroom situations as well as for private listening.


Clancy of the overflow And More Classic Favourites from Banjo Paterson, read by Colin Friels
ABC Audio, 2005

Audiobook Review: Dogs and Mogs, read by Andrew McFarlane & Leah Vandenberg

Kids love stories about animals, and none more than tales about dogs and cats. Mogs and Dogsis sure to delight with eight stories about cats and dogs.

Some of the stories feature favourite characters, including Harry (best known from the picture book Harry the Dirty Dog) who features in two stories – Harry by the Sea and No Roses for Harry and Slinki Malinki, the cat from the Hairy MacLary series. Other stories introduce new characters, such as Benjy, the dog who doesn’t like his new doghouse in Benjy’s Dog House

The stories are read by Andrew McFarlane and Leah Vandenburg, whose voices may be familiar to children from their time as presenters on television’s Playschool.

This is a cute offering, likely to appeal to children aged 4 to 8.

Dogs and Mogs, Read by Andrew McFarlane and Leah Vandenberg
ABC Audio, 2004

African Folk Tales, By Simon M'zungu

Some audiobooks are recording of books being read aloud. Others are performances in their own right. African Folk Tales, new from ABC Audio, is definitely a performance.

Written and told by Simon M’zungu, the four tales on the CD are retellings of traditional African folktales and are interspersed with traditional songs.

The stories on offer include The Wise Judgement of Gava the Jackal, How Kamba the Tortoise Cracked His Shell, Toga the Zebra Meets Mambo Shumba, the King Lion and Tsuro and Gudo Attend Each Other’s Parties. Each tale focusses on a different animal character and delivers a moral or lesson.

This CD would be an excellent tool for classroom use – especially for units on folktales, storytelling or cultural diversity. It also makes entertaining private listening.

African Folktales, written and told by Simon M’zungu
ABC Audio, 2004

Audiobook Review: The Farmyard Box

Children love animal stories and this new four CD offering from ABC Audio features plenty of animal tales, perfect for young listeners aged 4 to 8.

The Farmyard Box contains three separate titles. Pigs ‘a Plenty features 40 minutes of stories and rhymes about – you guessed it – pigs, including traditional tales and rhymes such as The Three Litte Pigs and This Little Pig Went to Market, as well as picture book texts by David McPhail, Martin Waddell and Pat Hutchins.

Farmyard Fun, the second title, includes seven animal tales, again mixing the traditional with more contemporary tales. Stories include Bear and Chook, by Lisa Shanahan and Nighty Night, by Margaret Wild.

The final title in the set is Pony Tales. This two CD offering features the stories by Sheryn Dee, from the junior novels of the same name. There are eight stories in all, sharing the adventures of young Jessie and her horse Magic.

All three titles include lively voice talent (readers include Anna Steen, Andrew McFarlane and Terry Bader) as well as musical breaks. The reading and story selection make the CDs easy and enjoyable to listen to.

The set would be suitable for classroom use but would be just as good for private listening. It would also be perfect for car travel.

A fun set.

The Farmyard Box, by Various Authors
ABC Audio, 2004

Children's Audiobook Review: Carkids Junior – The Little Red Gnome Goes Fishing

When the Little Red Gnome goes fishing, he wants to catch a fish to take home for his friend Matilda. First he catches a shoe, then he catches a pot. When he finally does catch a fish it talks to him! What will he take home to his firend Matilda?

The Little Red Gnome is one of two stories on this cd recording aimed at children aged 3 to 6 and designed for listening in the car or (as narrator Tim Levy points out) on a plane, train or bus. The second story Extra-Super-Big Pancake tells the tale of three magical sisters who set about making a pancake big enough to feed all three of them. There are also two songs – Mousie, Mousie and Little Pony – and a great game for playing in the car, Gingerbread.

Carkids Junior is the creative work of Tim Levy who is both the chief voice talent and the writer of the content. He is joined by Diane Tatum and her unnamed ‘gang’.

There is plenty on the CD to keep youngsters listening, although children at the younger end of the age range may have a little trouble following the stories. They will, however, still enjoy the funny voices and the music. As well as being good for travelling, this offering would have classroom appeal.


Carkids Junior: the Little Red Gnome Goes Fishing, written & narrated by Tim Levy and Diane Tatum
ABC Audio 2004

Eugenie Sandler P.I., by David McRobbie

Eugenie Sandler just wants to be a normal teenager. Tired of moving and hiding regularly when her father’s work as a private investigator becomes tricky, Eugenie longs for the chance to stay in one place long enough to make some friends and perhaps even have a boyfriend. All that seems pretty unlikely when Eugenie’s father disappears mysteriously. Suddenly Eugenie’s life is even more haphazard than she could ever have imagined.

As she searches for her father, Eugenie realises that she is being followed. Someone is trying to capture her, possibly even to kill her. And, as she tries to unravel the truth, she realises that there is a mystery in her past which could have devastating consequences for her future.

Eugenie Sandler P.I. is a novelisation of a television series which screened on ABC television in 2001. It has a balance of mystery, soul-searching and light romance which will be very appealing for teenagers. The voice of Rachael Blake as reader is clear and appropriate for the subject matter and target audience. Available on 5 audio tapes, Eugenie Sandler P.I. runs for 5 hours and thirty minutes.

Eugenie Sandler P.I., by David McRobbie, read by Rachael Blake
ABC Audio, 2002

The Very Best of Alison Lester

Alison Lester is well known for her picture books which are both beautifully written and delightfully illustrated. The two – words and pictures – are so equally impressive, that it is hard to conceive of an audiobook version which, by necessity, must do without the pictures. So The Very Best of Alison lester is a pleasant surprise. The absence of visual support is well-compensated for by the sound track on the recording.

With five of Lester’s stories, read by Peter Combe and Anna Steene, the disc makes use of music and sound effects to transport young readers to the setting of each tale, and to punctuate the narrative. The farm in My Farm comes alive with the mooing of cattle and the barking of dogs, whilst in Magic Beach, the sounds of the seashore make the reading truly magic.

Whilst this audio recording could be used as an addition to a viewing of the original books, it also stands alone. The gentleness of the reading would also make it ideal for relaxation sessions or preschool nap time.


The Very Best of Alison Lester, read by Peter Combe and friends
ABC Audio, 2003

Children's AudioBook Review: Bandaid, by Kym Lardner

Kym Lardner entertains 30 000 primary school children in Australian every year. Now, for those children who can’t get to one of his performances, or who have seen him but want more, ABC Audio presents a live recording of his work.

Bandaid, recorded with a live audience, is great fun. Lardner combines tales of his childhood with silly songs and sound effects for 40 minutes of non-stop giggles.

It is refreshing in these days of constant visual stimulation, to see young listeners laughing and enjoying an audio tape presentation so much.

Bandaids is suitable for classroom listening, but is just as appropriate for private enjoyment for primary school aged children.

Bandaid and Other Stories for Giggling, by Kym Lardner
ABC Audio 2002

YA AudioBook Review: Deadly Unna?, by Phillip Gwynne

Blacky (Gary Black) and Dumby Red play for the same football team, but they come from different worlds. Blacky lives in town with his seven siblings, his long-suffering mother and his alchoholic father. Dumby lives on the point, in the Aborignal settlement.

At first, Blacky thinks he hasn’t got much in common with Dumby, but when Dumby saves his skin by defending him, Gary realises Dumby is his friend. Unfortunately, its might be okay for a Nunga and a Gunya to play football together, but it isn’t so easy for them to be firends.

Through his friendship with Dumby, Blacky starts to see his town through different eyes. He starts to question some of the things which he has previously accepted – racist jokes, rude graffiti, and the separation of black and white.

Deadly Unna is a story about racism, but it is also a story about much more – friendship, family and self-identity being among the themes explored.

The voice of actor Chris Pittman is an excellent fit for the first-person narration of the text, which won the Book of the Year (Older Readers) Award in the CBCA Awards in 1999.

A great version of an outstanding novel for teens.

Deadly Unna, by Phillip Gwynne, read by Chris Pitman
ABC Audio, 2001

Audio Book Review: Pannikin & Pinta, by Colin Thiele

When the usually arid Lake Eyre in Central Australia is filled by rare floods, its shores become home to a great range of wildlife, including pelicans. But when the lake starts to shrink again, these animals face a choice between starvation and risking their lives to return to their regular homes.

In Pannikin & Pinta a pair of pelicans comes to the flooded lake to raise a family. When the flood recedes, the mother sets off on a journey with her teenage children to attempt to return to the coast.

Combining the masterful prose of Colin Thiele with the warm reading voice of actor Roger Cardwell, this is a production which touches the soul. Although Thiele is known as a writer of children’s and young adult stories, he has an ageless style which makes this story suitable for all. At 57 minutes playing time, this story could be enjoyed in one session.


Pannikin & Pinta, by Colin Thiele, read by Roger Cardwell
ABC Audio, 2003