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Gr 7 Up-Paul Fleischman's inspired celebration of the world as auditory treasure trove (Cricket/Marcato, 2002) comes to brilliant life in this full-cast production. Rob's high school English homework is to write an autobiography, and he takes the assignment back to his parents' meeting through the years he longed for the father who left before he was born. His childhood and youth have been rich in family, in spite of his father's invisibility, and this family has given him many ways of hearing the world: his opera-loving mother is a teacher of various Romance languages, his grandfather is a political science professor brimming with opinions, and he knows that his father is a radio disc jockey somewhere out there on the airwaves. The sounds and voices of Rob's life-including the sound effects tape left behind for him by his Louisiana-born and-bred father-swirl in accessible eddies as teenaged Rob sorts through his memories of trying to find his dad. Each character has been well cast here so that voices become quickly recognizable as young Rob, teen Rob, his mother, his girlfriend, his mother's new husband, and the Cajun disc jockey who hosts an oldies show. Rob's pain undergoes a swift cauterization even as he writes his English assignment: on Halloween night, his pirate radio station is broadcasting when the phone rings and the voice on the other end of the line is the father he no longer feels he needs. Historian/critic Leonard Marcus's interview of the author at the end of the tape provides listeners with even more to consider. This audiobook reminds listeners to recall the various voices and sounds that have made them who they are.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Readers will strongly detect Fleischman's (Joyful Noise; Bull Run) ear for language and appreciation for family history in this story of a teen's life, which emerges as a lyrical symphony of voices. High-school senior Rob, inspired by his fascination with radios, chooses to write his autobiography (assigned for English class) in the form of a radio play. The narrator presents a series of monologues and dialogues that capture the essence of those who have influenced him most: his trilingual mother, his history-professor grandfather, his storytelling grandmother, the aunts who helped raise him, and his school friends. However, Rob is most conscious of the silence created by his absent father ("Somehow, that missing voice seemed to outweigh all those that were present," he reflects). In an attempt to fill the empty space left by the man he's never met, Rob tunes into radio stations across the country and beyond to listen to announcers, one of whom might just be his DJ father. The novel which combines elements of poetry, fiction, essay and drama will be best appreciated in a readers' theater kind of setting; otherwise, it can take some time to get one's bearings, as the narrative moves between flashbacks and contemporaneous conversations. But those who stick with this lively cast of characters, revealed solely through dialogue, will be rewarded. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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