The Ten Best: Children's audio books

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The Independent Culture

This story saved our sanity on a drive from London to Devon. Millions (the Danny Boyle movie was out this year) is the very funny, occasionally sad, tale of two brothers, Damien and Anthony, who find a rucksack full of money and have just a few days to spend it before Britain joins the euro and it becomes worthless. Will they buy trendy trainers and loads of pizzas, or help the poor? But being rich brings its own problems...

Macmillan Audiobooks: CD £12.99, cassette £10.99, running time five hours

I, Coriander, by Sally Gardner, read by Juliet Stephenson

Sally Gardner made her name writing and illustrating fairy and fantasy stories for younger children, but this is her first book for slightly older readers (nine plus). Coriander is the daughter of a silk merchant in 1650s London, but when her mother dies and her father goes away, her idyllic childhood is abruptly ended. I, Coriander is set in both the real and the fairy worlds, and involves kidnapping, murder and romance.

Orion: CD £14.99, cassette £12.99, six hours

... then he ate my boy entrancers, by Louise Rennison, read by Louise Rennison

Louise Rennison's stories have been described as "Bridget Jones for teenagers - only funnier". In this sixth hilarious tale, Georgia Nicolson heads off to Hamburger-a-gogo Land (America, in case you're not in the loop) in search of Masimo, the Italian stallion. The only drawback is that you have to wait until July 2006 for the next instalment. Can you bear it?

HarperCollins: CD £14.99, cassette £12.99, five hours

Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, read by John Sessions

Diana Wynne Jones has been writing fantasy novels for children since the 1970s (the Chrestomanci series, also on audio, was a big hit with our family) and may finally get the wider public recognition she deserves now that Howl's Moving Castle is now out on film here. In the land of Ingary, where seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility exist, Sophie Hatter is put under a spell by the Witch of the Waste in this gripping tale.

HarperCollins: CD £13.99, cassette £9.99, three hours

Clean Break, by Jacqueline Wilson, read by Helen Lederer

My children are huge fans of Jacqueline Wilson's books - the only gripe I have is that Nick Sharratt's wonderful illustrations make them appeal to all ages when some of the subject matter is clearly not suitable for younger children. Clean Break deals with a family break-up at Christmas and is recommended for age eight-plus. Wilson's next book, Love Lessons, deals with pupil-teacher relations and is aimed at older children.

BBC Audio: CD £20, cassette £18.99, six hours

Tersias, by GP Taylor, read by David Bradshawe

This third book by the author of Wormwood and Shadowmancer is a tale of intrigue, sorcery and the struggle between good and evil. London is living through one of its darkest times, a comet has just missed Earth, leaving the city in chaos and the people fearing an apocalypse. Tersias, a blind boy, has predicted the comet and sees visions of the future.

BBC Audiobooks: CD £15.99, five hours approx

The Snail and the Whale, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, read by Imelda Staunton

Younger children adore The Gruffalo, and they will love this story of a tiny snail who longs to see the world and hitches a lift on the tail of a great grey-blue humpback whale. The Gruffalo's Child is also available now in cassette and paperback book (£9.99).

Macmillan Audiobooks, cassette £5.99, book and cassette £8.99, 30 minutes

Just William 6, by Richmal Crompton, read by Martin Jarvis

Sometimes the old ones are the best. These classic tales were released on audio nearly 15 years ago but are still a top seller. Martin Jarvis has made the voices of William and his gang his own. In this sixth set of stories the loveable rogue wreaks more havoc, hampered by Violet Elizabeth.

BBC Audiobooks: CD £15.99, cassette £10.99, three hours approx

The Beasts of Clawstone Castle, by Eva Ibbotson, read by David Tennant

This magical new adventure is about two children, Rollo and Madlyn, who spend summer with their penniless aunt and uncle at Clawstone Castle. With the help of the phantoms they turn it into a tourist attraction, but strange things happen...

Macmillan Audiobooks: CD and cassette £9.99, three hours

A Coyote's in the House, by Elmore Leonard, read by Kerry Shale

Adults will know Elmore Leonard for his crime thrillers, many of which have been made into films, such as Jackie Brown and Get Shorty. This is his first children's novel and my nine-year-old daughter loved it. It tells the story of Antwan, a coyote who lives in the Hollywood Hills, and Buddy, a retired canine movie star who has lost his sparkle. They decide to swap lives with hilarious consequences.

Puffin Audiobooks: CD £12.99, three hours

The Ten Best is edited by Rebecca Armstrong