Ears on the Odyssey

2018 Winners Roundup!

Watching the YMAs

Lizzie: The best place to watch the Youth Media Awards is in the room at ALA Midwinter for sure. I close second is probably in your PJs in bed, tweeting and texting with your librarian friends.

Natalie: I had to work this year instead of attending the live event, but it was pretty fun to put on the live stream, take the business phone off the hook, and enjoy the YMAs via text and twitter with my fellow audio enthusiasts.

Sarah: I was super excited to be present at this year’s Youth Media Awards. There’s nothing like meeting up with your friends at the crack of dawn, standing in line for ages, and then getting into that amazing room. Everyone laughs and cheers and hugs each other–it’s wonderful!

Winner: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, read by Bahni Turpin. HarperAudio, 2017.


Lizzie: What an exciting win for the under decorated Bahni Turpin! This is Turpin’s second win, but honestly that fact surprises because her caliber is so high. THUG was an early stand out for me and many others. Bahni Turpin showcased her all-star narrator skills by giving emotional nuance to well-crafted characters that the text demands. All around excellent choice!

Natalie: I’m so thrilled about this win. I think it’s a case of perfect matching between the text and the narrator. Angie Thomas’s gripping work deserved a narrator who could really honor its depth. Bahni Turpin could read the phone book and I’d be into it, but she shines when bringing to life such a high-quality story. And Caitlin Garing with HarperAudio created a lovely production that enhanced both of these parts for an amazing whole.   

Sarah: I loved THUG from the first minute that I started listening. Sometimes books lose their luster over the course of the year, but that definitely wasn’t the case with this one. When I went to re-listen, I was pulled in all over again. Even the clip that they played during the Award Ceremony was amazing! This is a well-deserved win. Check out the full review here.

Honor: The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage: Volume 1, by Philip Pullman, read‎ Michael Sheen, 13 hours and 7 minutes, Listening Library, 2017.


Lizzie: So glad Book of Dust was honored! It was truly immersive experience and helps the book more approachable. Check out the full review here.

Natalie: Michael Sheen is such an excellent fit for this story. He navigates Pullman’s sometimes complex imagery, making it more accessible, and he really nails the variety of accents.

Sarah: Michael Sheen’s voice has a magical, timeless feel that fits perfectly with this story. His character voices and accents are wonderful, and his pacing will pull listeners in right away.

Honor: A Boy Called Christmas, by Matt Haig, read by Stephen Fry, 4 hours and 25 minutes, Listening Library 2017.


Lizzie: Stephen Fry is iconic for his vocal range and his linguistic mastery and delivery. This wasn’t on my radar, but no doubt listening to bit of it, Fry’s storytelling skills are in full force.

Sarah: I didn’t get a chance to listen to this one before the awards were announced, and I’m so sad about that. What a heartwarming, magical tale! Stephen Fry is a born storyteller and the perfect choice to narrate this lovely book.

Honor: Long Way Down, written and read by Jason Reynolds, 1 hour and 43 minutes, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2017


Lizzie: There is intense intimacy to this book in verse that Reynolds’ captures in his narration. I really enjoyed the interview with the author at the end that explains his reason for writing this book. This is important and timely listen so I am glad it is getting recognized.

Sarah: Authors don’t always make the best narrators, but in the case of Long Way Down, I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else but Jason Reynolds to narrate. His full, rich voice conveys the complexities of Will’s thoughts with piercing clarity, and his command of timing and pacing is admirable. A powerful book that deserves to be heard.

Honor: Trombone Shorty, by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier, read by Dion Graham. 13 minutes. Live Oak Media, 2017.


Natalie: Score one for the picture book audio productions! Trombone Shorty is the perfect mix of excellent narration courtesy of Dion Graham, irresistible music as befits the subject, and some truly extraordinary production work to create a full scale sound tableau in the background.

Sarah: I was just so happy when I heard that Trombone Shorty received an Odyssey Honor. This is a masterpiece of an audio, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I love the way that Live Oak Media brings fantastic narrators, skilled producers, music, and pictures together to create unparalleled productions. A really amazing listen. Check out our review here.

Honor: The Wizards of Once, by Cressida Cowell, read David Tennant, 5 hrs and 56 mins, Hachette Audio, 2017.


Natalie: This book isn’t one we reviewed for the blog this year, but it was a delightful surprise to run into once the awards were out. David Tennant excels at these kind of outsized fantasy adventures and his enthusiastic narration style just pulls you right in.  

Sarah: David Tennant is such a fantastic narrator! He is so skilled at creating distinct character voices while also being able to bring forth a remarkable depth of feeling. His warm, animated delivery is compelling and charming, a great combination for a book like The Wizards of Once.

Other thoughts

Lizzie: WOAH- what a lot of honors! You can debate the merit of having such a deep list, but the ones chosen here do a good job of showing off quality listens for different age groups and publishing houses. Audio is a diverse category and I’m happy that it is growing in popularity and quality. Thanks to the committee for all their listening!

Natalie: I know from our year on the Odyssey Committee how much work goes into selecting the very best among audio productions for children and teens, and how very meticulous you have to be, especially in the final stages. I applaud this year’s committee for their hard work and the fantastic list of Award and Honor winning titles they selected. It’s been tremendous fun trying to make our own reviews and predictions, and I’m pretty pleased that we identified several of the stand-outs.

Sarah: I noticed that several award categories had more honors than usual this year, and I wonder if that is a trend? For the Odyssey Award, it could simply be a reflection of the outstanding quality of this year’s productions. I am delighted to see the care that is going into audios for all ages and hope that this attention to detail continues. It’s a pleasure to listen to productions that aren’t just readings but are multi-faceted listening experiences. Congratulations to the committee on their hard work and many hours of listening. Great choices!



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