If you have been lamenting the lack of modern-day classics that stand up to Treasure Island and Shipwrecked, give a listen to the full cast audiobook version of Airborn by Kenneth Appel. It's a rousing adventure with a steampunk twist, in a Brit-centric universe where San Francisco is called Lions Gate City and giant airships fill the skies over the continents and the immense oceans, Atlanticus and Pacificus. Matt Cruse is the narrator and cabin boy of the Airship Aurora. He was literally born in the air, and following his father's tragic fall from the Aurora, was invited by the Captain to join the crew. As the sole support of his mother and two sisters, life isn't easy for 15 year old Matt, but he loves the ship, the sky and his Captain and it's his dream to eventually work his way up the ranks.
Matt is instrumental in a daring rescue of a crippled balloon and its mysterious passenger, who asks Matt "Have you seen them?" Matt has no idea of what the dying old man is talking about. After about a year passes, a cruise from Lions Gate City to Sydney, Australia brings Matt into contact with a rich, beautiful and, in equal parts captivating and irritating, society girl who knows something about the old man and what he has seen in the cloud-filled skies. Kate is grateful to Matt for rescuing her grandfather, for that's who the old man was. She allows Matt to read her grandfather's journal describing his encounter with large beautiful flying cats, which they dub "Cloud Cats."She is determined to find scientific proof of her grandfather's discovery. A deadly but elegant pirate and his nasty crew storm aboard, robbing the passengers. Damage to the ship in a bad storm, a shipwreck on a deserted island, narrow escapes, encounters with the beautiful but deadly cloud cats, and feats of incredible bravery on the part of Matt and Kate fill the listening experience with lots of excitement.
The Full-Cast Audio production was excellent, with 32 performers giving a thrilling performance. The audiobook is on 10 CD's with 10 and 1/2 hours of recording. It's perfect for that long vacation drive or even a chapter a day. If you're looking for an audiobook that both parents, tweens and teens can enjoy, pick it up at the Carnegie Branch of the Jackson District Library.