Crows & Cards (unabr.). 6 CDs. 6:42 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2009. ISBN 978-1-4233-9175-3. $69.97.
Gr 4-8–Twelve-year-old Zebulon “Zeb” Crabtree lives the simple life with his brothers and sisters on a farm in 1849. Then his father gets the notion that Zeb should be sent to St. Louis to learn to be a tanner by apprenticing with his great-uncle Seth. Shipped off on a riverboat, Zeb falls under the charms of Charles “Chilly” Larpenteur, a smooth-talking gambler whom he befriends on the ride down the Mississippi. Trapped inside a ruthless world of gambling, Zeb crosses paths with a slave and a blind Indian who has visions. He becomes mesmerized by a medicine man and charmed by a beautiful woman collecting funds for the orphanage. A modern day Mark Twain, Joseph Helgersen spins an engrossing coming-of-age story (Houghton Mifflin, 2009). The charm of the tale lies in the witty storytelling, fascinating characters, and a spot-on theatrical performance by narrator MacLeod Andrews. The author’s tongue-in-cheek humor sizzles under MacLeod’s lively presentation, especially Chilly’s slick talking ways. Fans of the author’s Horns and Wrinkles (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) will revel in this latest installment of this Mississippi River tale.–Robyn Gioia, Bolles School, Ponte Vedra, FL
Review by School Library Journal