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'But I Want the Whole Book!'

Teachers and parents leery of audiobooks because they often don't contain full texts, may want to get in touch with Recorded Books Inc., in Prince Frederick, Md. Almost all tapes produced by Recorded Books retain every word from the original book.

The company, formed in 1979, initially focused on adult commuters, but it has been producing unabridged children's audiobooks since the early 1990s. The move into the children's audiobook market has brought Recorded Books considerable recognition; its children's tapes consistently appear on award lists. David Berset, national sales director, credits this success to the company's high production standards and careful selection of readers for its books.

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Recorded Books maintains a New York City studio for recording, which gives the company ready access to Broadway actors and actresses. Because unabridged audiobooks are longer - and therefore more expensive - than their abridged counterparts, Recorded Books has developed a rental option. If the purchase price seems too steep, prospective listeners may want to rent cassettes at a much lower cost.

Recorded Books decides which books to tape by reviewing reading lists from schools and taking recommendations from librarians.

The following tapes, produced by Recorded Books, appear on the American Library Association's 1997 list of Notable Recordings for Children:

Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson

Read by Tom Stechschulte

Three cassettes, 4 hours, $26

Leslie, a new girl at school, draws fifth-grade Jess into the imaginary world of Terabithia. There, they discover a rare friendship, until tragedy strikes (1978 Newbery Medal winner).

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The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm - Nancy Farmer

Read by George Guidall

Seven cassettes, 10 hours, $58

African tribal folklore meets futuristic technology in this imaginative tale of mutant superheros in 2194 Zimbabwe (1995 Newbery Honor winner).

I Am Lavina Cumming - Susan Lowell

Read by Barbara Caruso

Four cassettes, 4.75 hours, $34

In 1905, 10-year-old Lavina leaves her family and home in Arizona Territory to live with her rich aunt in California. This book combines adventure, friendship, and Southwestern lore.

Ironman - Chris Crutcher

Read by George Guidall and Paul Hecht

Five cassettes, 6.25 hours, $42

This is a funny, realistic, and sensitive story about Bo Brewster, a high school athlete - and survivor of child abuse. In a series of letters to his hero, Larry King, Bo revels how the other members of his "anger management" group help him prepare for an ironman triathlon.

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Read by Virginia Leishman

Six cassettes, 8 hours, $49

In this rags-to-riches tale, young Sara is mistreated in a British boarding school after her father's death. Ultimately, she is restored to her high estate by a wealthy friend of her father's.

Rifle - Gary Paulsen

Read by Norman Dietz

Two cassettes, 2 hours, $18

This novel follows a rifle from its creation in 1768 to a shattering event as it roars back to life in 1994.

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