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Little Women
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Gr 4-7‘An entry in a series whose aim is to give readers a clearer picture of the time and place in which classic stories take place. This version of Little Women is augmented with text and illustrations that explain some of the period social customs, clothes, entertainments, etc. Also included are some bits of information about Louisa May Alcott's life. This approach seems best suited to children already familiar with the story; they may find the historical perspective interesting. First-time readers will most likely be distracted by the margin notes that pull attention from the narrative. While they can be helpful, as when they illustrate an unfamiliar piece of clothing, they are often distracting and can even be confusing in their placement. For instance, a note mentioning the Laurences is placed two pages before those characters are introduced. This format may also discourage readers from independent research‘a process that can be rewarding in its own right. One other caveat‘as explained in an endnote, Little Women was originally written in two parts, and this volume only contains part one, which ends with Mr. March's return. Readers familiar with the more common two-part version may find this title incomplete; children new to this classic will be better off with any one of the unembellished versions available.‘Arwen Marshall, New York Public Library

How would one describe this latest recording of the classic story from Alcott (Little Men, Audio Reviews, LJ 11/15/96)? The answer must be, clear, competent, and unexciting. Laura Grafton is a precise reader, but her voice lacks expressiveness, and she makes little attempt to vocally differentiate (and/or animate) the characters. The result is an inoffensive and slightly dull rendering. There's nothing wrong; the tapes just won't grab the attention of the casual listener. The producer has made a praiseworthy attempt to reduce costs by having each cassette side carry double text. At $22.95, this tape set is an excellent value. Unfortunately, this double-track format requires a stereo cassette player with a fully functioning balance control. Most portable cassette players and some car stereo systems do not have this feature. Since, at least anecdotally, a large percentage of recreational audiocassette library borrowers are commuters or exercisers, one should consider whether this format would be used by patrons. Libraries purchasing this format might also consider purchasing (and lending) the associated headphone adaptor plugs. Recommended for libraries with limited audiobook budgets and/or appropriate user populations.ÄI. Pour-El, Iowa State Univ., Ames

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