Children's Books Special: The best audiobooks

For younger children of 6-10, Macmillan has at last recorded the works of Eva Ibbotson. Gloriously funny and completely screwball, her tales of eccentric witches and kindly ghosts will be familiar to anyone with slightly peculiar relations, but their wit is of a kind which adults will love too. If I had to choose one recent release, it would be The Secret of Platform 13, both as one of Ibbotson's funniest tales and for Sian Thomas's crisp reading. The best of all is The Beasts of Clawstone Castle as read by David Tennant, below (both £10.99).

Many parents and children will be rediscovering CS Lewis's Narnia books because of the films, and the BBC's version of Prince Caspian (£9.99), starring Paul Scofield among others, is beautifully done, with music, birdsong and a tweaking of the narrative which works very well as drama.

Some parents, trying to turn children on to classic fiction, even turn to recording their own favourite books, but few do it so well as the actor Peter Joyce, whose eclectic "Assembled Stories" collections are worth hunting down – you can download extracts from the internet. He has a gorgeously gravelly voice. For 8+, I recommend his George Macdonald's The Princess and the Goblin (£15.99), a tale of how a good-hearted miner-boy saves a princess from capture by the goblins that haunt the king's mountain mines, and is saved in turn when she follows the thread on her grandmother's magic ring. Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps and J Meade Faulkner's Moonfleet are also good new additions to the list, but slightly older boys of 12+ will lap up Assembled Stories's forthcoming rendition of H Rider Haggard's thriller about immortality, She. Often a little too complex and old-fashioned to be read on the page, these Victorian and Edwardian stories were written to be read aloud, and their gung-ho confidence is conveyed with infectious enjoyment.

Craftsman are the masters of fantasy fiction audiobooks, and their unabridged recording of Ursula le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea two years ago was stunning. Its sequel, also read by Karen Archer, is The Tombs of Atuan (£25.95), and tells how Sparrowhawk comes to the distant Labyrinth of the Kargad lands, searching for the broken amulet of a wizard in order to restore peace. The Tombs are guarded by a young woman, Arha, who is being corrupted by dark spirits. A resonant political fable about turning away from the hatred fostered by religion, the story takes a long time to take off, but grip it does, through Archer's trance-like reading and the original music by Leigh Odlin. Not one for winding roads or dark nights.

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'