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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Audio Book Review: Jennings' Diary by Anthony Buckeridge

This is a charming story for middle grade, young adults or adults who might enjoy a nostalgic view of boyish mishaps.
Jennings' Diary by Anthony Buckeridge
read by Simon Vance

Audio Book Length:  4 Hrs 28 Min
# of Audio CD's:  4
# of MP3 CD's:  1
Audio CD ISBN:  978-1-926910-35-2

In this audiobook - it is the Easter term at Linbury Court School and Jennings has been promised five pounds by his aunt if he keeps up his diary every day. When he and Darbishire devise a code for entries, things really start to happen - the nasty incident of Wilkins's mark book is only one of them.

Jennings is a young English boy away at boarding school for the Easter term. His Aunt gave him a diary for Christmas and promised him five pounds if he writes in the diary each day. When he returned to school one of his classmates found the diary and began teasing him. Jennings entries are rather dull and common-place, tending towards his routines, “ate breakfast”, or the weather with those entries looking a lot like: “hot toddy” instead of “hot today”.

After rescuing his book he decides to write in code in case it gets taken again. Now the entries look like: "Hah-ooh cinosrepus! 'Selbanev, Nosnikta, Senoj-Nitram,'..." Jennings makes an innocent entry about his sometimes impatient forms teacher, Mr. Wilkins, known as Old Wilkie. Mr. Wilkins sees the entry that reads something like ‘Wilkie - lost link’ and takes it as an insult setting the two at odds.

Jennings records his attempts to start a museum with all the ‘treasures’ that young boys are apt to find. He and his best friend, Darbershire, sneak off one day in search of a gift for the school nurse who has been kind to Jennings. One misstep leads to another but the resulting gift giving and confusion is really quite sweet.

Jennings and Darbishire find a genuine fake Roman carriage wheel which causes no small trouble with Old Wilkie and the boys’ museum. The cumbersome wheel assemblage becomes even more of a problem as the boys try to take it to the curator of the Dunhambury Museum.

At one point Old Wilkie confiscates the diary but lends it back to Jennings a few weeks later so that he can transfer the entries from his notebook. Jennings goes through a bad day when he thinks he has lost the diary. Not only will he have to face Old Wilkie when he can’t return the book, but he is afraid the police will find it and think it is about Russian spies due to the nature of his code.

The story is a very charming view of the mischief of young boys in a gentler setting than today’s world. The convoluted, though often innocent, thinking and actions of Jennings makes for awkward and funny situations.

I hope to share it with my own 10 year old grandson. It is not fast action and adventure as we think of them today but it is action and adventure for young boys in a historic time setting.

Audio Notes: I have to state that I would probably enjoy any audio read by Simon Vance. Vance is a consummate narrator who manages to share multiple voices and personalities in his smooth British accent. He does a wonderful job with the school boys, the teachers and headmaster, moving from one to the next so that you can picture the whole scene. This is a book I would probably not pick up in print but found great enjoyment listening to. I am looking forward to listening to more of Jennings’ adventures as shared through Vance’s magical presentation.

I received this audiobook from Post Hypnotic Press Books for review.

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