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Harry Potter - Audiobooks


tagesmann
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I started listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks back in May and have just finished The Deathly Hallows. I have posted separately about the first two books in the series.

 

I had the opportunity to choose to listen to either the UK editions read by Stephen Fry or the US editions read by Jim Dale. I chose the UK editions. Fry is a very good reader and even though he doesn't use a lot of vocal characterisations; he does on the whole convey the characters very well. If he has a fault, it is in his female characters who don't work quite as well as the males. He also, occasionally does not change intonation between speech and text causing an aural double take.

 

There has been quite a bit of criticism of the length of the books as the series developed. This issue is not such a problem in the audio books. The narrative flow carries on and works very well throughout and there is not that feeling of some time dragging (or the author filling time) as happens when reading them. I don't know if this is down to the narrator's skill or the author's (and hence the readers lack of....).

 

I have really enjoyed this series and if for those who enjoy audiobooks I would recommend these.

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Although I haven't listened to the whole series on audio book, those I have listened to I have thoroughly enjoyed. When the earlier books came out and before my daughter was a fluent reader we bought them mostly for listening in the car (all of us are HP fans). Since then she had read the hard copies over and over, I think sometimes they are comfort reading for her, when she is too tired to tackle something that needs concentration she will open HP and become immersed. Audio books are a wonderful way to help children who have reading difficulties or even reluctant readers, who no matter that parents try to fill the gap, really miss out on the advantages reader build up. I really enjoyed Stephen Fry's narration, can't imagine what it would sound like with an American accent! I also recommend the audio book like tagesmann. Just to add my late father in law really enjoyed them in his 80's.

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We are great fans of HP and are currently going through the whole series for the fifth time!! I know that sounds a bit ott, but we do love them.

 

I have heard one Jim Dale version and did not like it at all. I can't remember whether his characterisations were worse or better than Fry, but I personally think Fry's version is excellent. For me Fry mimics some of the actors from the films very well indeed, especially Hagrid and Snape. I agree that some of the female characterisations are a little weak but Fry's narration is so good that it does not detract from the listeners enjoyment.

 

As we have read the books at least twice and watched the film versions several times, we love going back to listening to the CDs in the car on long journeys (as we have this weekend) and renewing our knowledge of the details that we have forgotten or do not actually appear in the films.

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For me Fry mimics some of the actors from the films very well indeed, especially Hagrid and Snape. I agree that some of the female characterisations are a little weak
But he's got Maggie's Smith's McGonnagal just right!

 

I've listened to all but the last HP on CD as well as having read them - as a way of re-reading the books in preparation for later ones in the series coming out.

 

I think I could credit them with my now great enjoyment of listening to audio books.

 

I'd love to hear an extract of the American version to see how it compares.

 

ETA - you can have a listen here. Much more Alan Rickman sounding, I think! But I see what you mean about the voices. Not too irritating though.

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I wonder now how much our views of the audiobooks are a result of the films. If we hadn't seen actors giving voice to the characters would we still think the same way about the different narrators?

 

For example, Stephen Fry's Hagrid sounded nothing like Robbie Coltraine's when I listened the audiobooks but he must have done something right because they don't sound wrong. Also Fry's Dumbledore manages to sound like both Richard Harris and Michael Gambon. Then again for me his Mr Weasley sound more like I had imaged than Mark Williams does.

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Tagsmann, I can't remember the order they were released in, am I right in saying the audiobooks came before the movies? For me personally it was the imagery in the movies that would have been the most problematic, luckily the faces didn't jar with what I had already imagined and very soon blended completely with the actors, mind you that wasn't hard given the quality of the chosen actors. I can listen to Fry as a storyteller/narrator and not feel at all at a loss for the actor’s voices, as these are two very distinct, though related disciplines.

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This thread caught my eye as I have been giving much thought to buying my son (aged 11) some audio books and thought the first HP book would be a good place to perhaps start.

 

I have always read to my son from an early age and despite every effort to try and encourage him to read to himself, he insists on me reading to him. Although he reads various comics & magazines and has no problem reading/understanding the written word, he just prefers someone actually reading books to him. I have visions of me still reading to him when he is in his late teens! :) So I thought I would give the audio books a try . . . he loves the HP films and has shown interest in discussing the HP books with his older brother . . . just never swayed into reading them.

 

At first, I thought perhaps it was just out of habit that he wished me to continue reading to him; but this is not the case, he listens quite intently to the story being told and always asks questions and loves chosing books for me to read to him! :rolleyes:

 

So, I am hoping that he might enjoy the audio books - if not, it will be back to square one! :)

 

Thanks all,

 

Treve

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Trev - I think audiobooks for an 11 year-old are just about right. If he likes HP then what better place to start.

 

If you are looking for alternatives, my sons at age 11 loved Roald Dahl - their favourite was James and the Magic Peach. In fact now in their thirties they still remember that one with fond affection. They are both prolific readers now by the way - teenage boys have to pretend they don't like reading even if they do!!

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My daughter still loves audio books, mainly because she can do something else at the same time. She even listened to some of her GCSE texts on audio book, which for her made them very enjoyable. But she does read as well.

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I had my mother - it was mainly my mother - read to me for as long as I possibly could, even though I was perfectly capable of reading myself. In the end she had to refuse me! I can't remember what age I was, but I was definitely too young to appreciate that a working mother needs some rest once in a while and that reading on my own was one thing less she had to do with her day - and that it wouldn't kill me :rolleyes:

 

However, even to this day I'll take every opportunity to be read to !

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Barblue, Cassie & lunababymoonchild - many thanks for the suggestions and assurance - much appreciated.

 

After speaking with him last night, he seemed quite interested in trying the audio books - after I have finished reading his Soul Eater that is (about half way through). :)

 

Quite an interesting comment you make lunababymoonchild - as he cannot abide his father reading to him! :rolleyes:

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Quite an interesting comment you make lunababymoonchild - as he cannot abide his father reading to him! :rolleyes:
You get to do other things with your father. It just turned out that my mother was the one that read to me, she was the one who was willing to make different voices for different characters - I got her to work hard! - and that was part of the appeal.
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I love the Harry Potter books, they got me back to reading after a long break (about 15/20 years!!) and I love them, I acquired the audio books to all the novels and I love listening to them, in the car mainly. I personally think that Stephen Fry is a very good narrator but I do agree with some of the negative points made, however I love these books so much I tend to over look what I consider minor irritations. We went on holiday and I persuaded my husband to put them on in his car for the long journey, and he was hooked, although when he had finished he did say that he wanted to know what happened next, and wished we hadn't listened to them, as he was happy in his ignorance just watching the films and now that was spoilt!!

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An interesting peice of trivia here from Wikipedia (so take with a pinch of salt, but I do believe it is correct):

 

[Jim Dale] is the narrator for the Harry Potter video games, and for many of the interactive "extras" on the Harry Potter DVD releases. He also holds two Guinness World Records: one for having created and recorded 146 different character voices[5] for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and one for occupying the first six places in the Top Ten Audio Books of America and Canada 2005.

 

146 voices is an awful lot!

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