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Check It Out

Courier Article by Maryann Mori
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Playaway Packs Many Great Titles in Handy MP3 Player

Everyone likes to hear a good story, and now there's a new way to hear your favorite stories: Playaways. These compact audiobooks are pre-loaded on an MP3 player. Just attach your earbuds, and you're ready to go! The Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library system has lots of titles available on Playaways now, with a large collection for teens, adults and children located at Central Library. Traveling collections are also located at some branch libraries. Here are just a few examples of the titles you'll find on Playaways.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Set in a dystopian society, Luke Garner is a non-existent person. He's a "third child" - someone not legal, who should never have been born, who should now be killed thanks to the government's laws and the Population Police. His parents have kept him hidden in the attic of their farm house for the past twelve years, but when Luke dares to peek outside a window to view houses in the developing subdivision near his farm, he think he sees another hidden person. Luke sneaks to this other home in hopes of finding another third child, but his desire for friendship could cost him his own or someone else's life. Listen to at least two chapters of this Playaway, and you'll be hooked and unable to remove the earbuds!

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

In typical Crutcher style, this fast-paced, quick-witted story is also thought-provoking with its believable characters and intriguing story line. Eric Calhoune is in his senior year of high school. Known as "Moby" because of his weight, as well as for his swimming abilities, Eric is best friends with Sarah Byrnes, a girl whose last name describes her physical condition - scarred from burns she received as a young child. Eric and Sarah Byrnes (always call her by both names) have been the butts of too much teasing throughout their school years. Senior year sees some changes for both of them, though, as Eric struggles with determining his own value system, and Sarah struggles with her abusive father and her stint in a mental hospital. This story is read by Johnny Heller, whose voice is perfect for capturing both the humor and the adult situations in this book.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Your teacher has recommended Austen. You've seen the new movies about Jane Austen, as well as the PBS airings of her novels-turned-movies. Now it's time to read one of her books for yourself to find out why everyone is making such a big deal out of Austen. Listening to a classic can be a great way to "get into" the story without being bogged down by the heavier language of such books. Kate Redding does a fantastic job of reading this novel with enough voice changes to help the listener envision the interesting characters in this humorous story about the Bennett daughters and the social customs of 19th-century England pertaining to sexual relations and presumed cultural standards.

Learn Anywhere! German: The Complete Language Course

Studying a language can be tough, and most of us need some extra help along the way. Playaways are available in several world languages - from Arabic to Spanish. This particular language series is designed to introduce you to enough of the language to learn basic conversational skills. These Playaways are great for reviewing what you might have learned in class or for getting a quick introduction to a new language.

To see other Playaway titles, go to the Library's website at www.evpl.org, and do a keyword or subject search for Playaway.

Maryann Mori is teen services librarian at Central Library. She can be reached at (812) 428-8229. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of the library.