Whenever author Jarrett J. Krosoczka opened up one of the books in his
Whenever author Jarrett J. Krosoczka opened up one of the books in hisLunch Lady series, he always imagined an electric guitar accompanying every time the titular Lunch Lady appeared on the page in all her superhero glory.
“I had heard that for years, and years, and years,” he said. When he got the chance to turn the series into audiobooks, he dived deep into such ideas and experimented with all the ways he could bring a graphic novel to life for listeners as an audio producer for the Lunch Lady series.
At “Listen to Win: Hearing from Audiobook Winners and the Judges Who Select Them,” a June 26 session at the American Library Association’s 2023 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, authors, producers, and judges discussed the qualities of a good audiobook, the process of creating and editing an audiobook, and how audiobooks benefit young readers. Krosoczka was joined by Kit Ballenger, youth services librarian and founder of children’s literary consulting business Help Your Shelf; Sarah Hashimoto, editor at Library Journal; Taryn Ocko Beato, audiobook producer and associate casting director at Simon & Schuster; and Sarah Ressler Wright, teacher librarian at Delaware City Schools.
When creating an audiobook from a graphic novel or picture book, one of the biggest challenges and first things to confront is how to translate those visuals into sound. Ocko Beato shared that instead of seeing the audiobook as separate from the graphic novel or even a version of it, she sees it as a companion. “There’s a lot of things that can happen in production, in the narration, that you could make special, and give listeners something just as good as the book itself,” she said.
Krosoczka exemplified keeping the voices of the characters as authentic as possible. “I am a huge advocate of having kid characters being voiced by actual kids and not adults trying to put on a kid voice,” he said.
Ballenger and Hashimoto, who are judges of the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production, shared what they look for in good audiobooks, such as quality of sound. The criteria, Ballenger said, is “to the benefit of the listener. The immersion of the listening experience is meant for the person on the receiving end of it.”
“I could care less if you’re gonna pronounce your ‘s’ strongly. A plosive will never bother me. But I don’t want to feel like I’m inside your mouth,” Hashimoto joked.
Wright advocated for audiobooks and said they are an accessible way for all readers (for example, readers who don’t have sight) to enjoy graphic novels, which rely heavily on visuals. “We often pair audiobooks with required reading,” she said. “I ask students, ‘Are you listening to podcasts?’ and I say, ‘Hey. You could be listening to audiobooks.’”