Listening Library’s, Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, read by Marika Mashburn
Obviously, this was a great book – winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. It tells of the heart-wrenching Dust Bowl years in the life of Billy Jo, a 14-year-old girl from the Oklahoma panhandle.
The audio version, however, has a slight handicap to overcome. Because this is a free verse novel written in a journal format, there is no dialogue to break the monotony of single voice narration. Marika Mashburn does an excellent job in evoking Billy Jo’s emotions; the reader can hear both the smiles and the tears in her voice. Additionally, her voice sounds youthful and believable as the young Billy Jo; however, the reading sometimes feels rushed. Overall, I think that this title is best read rather than heard. YALSA’s Audiobook and Experimental Media Committee selected Out of the Dust for their “annual list of spoken word recordings with high aesthetic and content appeal for listeners ages 12 through 18.”