LibriVox: Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders

SFFaudio Online Audio

I spotted this terrific looking book while browsing book covers at a local big box bookstore.

Beautiful Joe COVER

It turns out the book is a Canadian classic, one I’d never read, or even heard of, but one which I probably should have. The illustrator, Scott Plumbe, writes of it on his blog saying:

“[Beautiful Joe was written] in the 1890s by Canadian author Margaret Marshall Saunders [it was] inspired by a real life dog who had been cruelly maltreated by his owner and was later taken in by the kindly Morris family.”

What makes the novel rather different, and thus all the more interesting, is that it’s told from the perspective of the main character (a dog). Hoping that somebody had recorded it, I did a search and found a single voiced narration of Beautiful Joe over on LibriVox!

The vintage introduction makes it sound as if Beautiful Joe is a religious novel, but the actual text is fairly secular (at least so far). This seems to be a book designed with a message in mind, that cruelty to animals is wrong, worthy of banning.

LIBRIVOX - Beautiful Joe by Marshall SaundersBeautiful Joe
By Marshall Saunders; Read by Allyson Hester
2 M4Bs (1,2), 19 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 10 Hours 2 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 6, 2008
Beautiful Joe is a real dog, and “Beautiful Joe” is his real name. He belonged during the first part of his life to a cruel master, who mutilated him in the manner described in the story. He was rescued from him, and is now living in a happy home with pleasant surroundings, and enjoys a wide local celebrity. The character of Laura is drawn from life, and to the smallest detail is truthfully depicted. The Morris family has its counterparts in real life, and nearly all of the incidents of the story are founded on fact.

Podcast feed:

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The Wikipedia entry for Beautiful Joe mentions that there is a park, in Meaford, Ontario, named after Beautiful Joe. When you do a search on YouTube for same you can only get this effable, and oddly unironic, tour:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - The Goose Girl by Shannon HaleThe Goose Girl
By Shannon Hale; Performed by a Full Cast
10 CDs – 10 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2005
ISBN: 1932076727
Themes : / Fantasy / Magic / Horses / Animals /

When I finished listening to Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, I wanted to start the story again. I had read the fantasy novel in print form about two years before hearing it and Full Cast Audio brings the characters to life in spot-on performances which won’t disappoint fans of the novel.

The story of Ani, the Princess Anidora Kiladra, (Erica Lustig) is as intimate as if you were hearing the troubles of your best friend, while at the same time covering a sweeping political plot. Princess Ani is sent to a neighboring kingdom to marry a prince she has never met. On the way there, her handmaid conspires to have her killed and take over her identity as Princess. Ani narrowly escapes with her life and must struggle to regain her identity.

What makes this book really wonderful is that during this political struggle, Ani goes through a great deal of very real personal growth. You can see the insecure girl become a confidant young woman through the combined performance of Grace Gates (young Ani), Erica Lustig (Ani) and the compelling narrative. Even if you have already read The Goose Girl, pick up a copy of the audio; it is well-worth the listen.

Posted by Mary Robinette Kowal