Ears on the Odyssey

2019 Winners Roundup


What a year! As we take a look at the 2019 winners, thanks everyone for reading our thoughts on some wonderful listens. Looking forward to seeing what 2020 holds for youth audios!

Watching the YMAs

Sarah: I was so happy to be able to attend the YMAs in person this year. It is my most favorite event of the Midwinter Conference, hands down! Everyone is so excited to be there and so appreciative of these talented authors, narrators, illustrators, and producers. Such a feel-good event, full of laughter, cheering, clapping, and fun!

Lizzie: Love it when the YMA’s are on my Pacific timezone! I watched and tweeted my little heart out while I got ready for my workday.

Emily: This is the first year since I became a librarian that I missed watching the YMAs, either in-person or streaming online! I was in another breakfast at Midwinter, but I was definitely checking Twitter to keep my eye on the winners (and put holds on the titles I hadn’t already listened to!)

Natalie: I was able to watch the YMA livestream at work again this year, while live-tweeting as many of the awards as I could manage for the blog. They do a really good job of making those of us who can’t be there in person feel included. You don’t get the full package of excitement, but it’s still a fun morning to look forward to.

Winner: Sadie, by Courtney Summers, read by Rebecca Soler, Fred Berman, Dan Bittner, Gabra Zackman, and more. 7 hrs, 57 minutes. Macmillan Audio, 2018.


Sarah: Sadie is one of those books that really should be listened to. I was absolutely captivated right from the beginning, and even though the story was so heart-wrenching and painful, I couldn’t stop listening. This book feels so real and so raw. The narration is transparent, authentic, and utterly affecting.

Lizzie: Sadie exists for audio and it’s themes and characters are so much more powerful in that media. I am so happy to listen to youth audiobooks like Sadie because it  feels they are pushing the storytelling in innovative and unique direction. I’d love to see a classroom lesson plan build around this book with other narrative/ mystery/crime podcasts.

Natalie: I did not get the chance to listen to Sadie before the awards, but I am in the middle of it now. It’s doing such innovative things with the formatting that I am pleased to see the production be awarded and hope it helps keep the boundaries of what we consider audiobooks to be moving in new directions.

Honor: Du Iz Tak?, by Carson Ellis, read by Eli and Sebastian D’Amico, Burton, Galen and Laura Fott, Sarah Hart, Bella Higginbotham, Evelyn Hipp and Brian Hull. 7 minutes. Weston Woods, 2018.

Du Iz Tak

Sarah: This is the one book that I hadn’t listened to before the Awards ceremony, and I’m sad that I didn’t, because it’s so charming! The sounds of the forest and the lovely bug language combine to create a magical atmosphere that will be an instant favorite with any child. Here is an audiobook to treasure.

Natalie: I also missed this one before the Awards, and I’m pleased that it won an honor. It’s such a treat, and a production that I think kids and adults will both enjoy.

Honor: Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist, by Susan Wood, read by Brian Amador. 15 minutes. Live Oak Media, 2018.

Sarah: I just love Esquivel! This was one of my picks to win the Odyssey Award, and I’m so glad that it received an Honor. The picture book is wonderful, but when you add an audio component…wow! It is joyful and vibrant, playful and colorful. The sound effects are deliciously weird and fascinating, making for a unique and wonderful listening experience.

Honor: The Parker Inheritance, by Varian Johnson, read by Cherise Boothe. 10 hours. Scholastic Audio, 2018.

The Parker Inheritance

Sarah: The Parker Inheritance is a huge favorite of mine. Cherise Booth’s narration is smooth, yet animated, a perfect match for this intriguing and surprisingly moving middle grade mystery. Here’s a book that the whole family will enjoy.

Natalie: This one slid under my radar until Sarah mentioned how much she enjoyed it, but now that I have listened, it’s obvious why the Odyssey committee awarded it an honor. Cherise Booth’s Southern accent really shines, which is one of those things I tend to notice.

Honor: The Poet X, written and read by Elizabeth Acevedo. 3 hours, 30 minutes. HarperAudio, 2018.

poet x

Sarah: Almost as soon as I started listening to The Poet X, I felt like it could be a real Odyssey contender. I’m glad that it was recognized with an Odyssey Honor! I listened to this book in one sitting, and when I finished, I was all ready to listen again. Acevedo reads her own book, and it is marvelous–rhythmic, moving, and hugely powerful. I really can’t recommend this highly enough.

Lizzie: I was a big fan of The Poet X from early on in the year and it stuck with me as possible contender throughout many other listens. Acevedo own reading matches perfect with her poetry and transports the reader to Xiomara’s world and inner thoughts. Also…fun fact: Acevedo also narrated Ibi Zoboi’s Pride in 2018!

Natalie: Is there anything Elizabeth Acevedo can’t do? I am so thrilled that she narrates her own fantastic novel in verse for the audio production. She really brings Xiomara’s poetry to life in a way that adds a special flair to the work beyond the printed word.

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