REVIEWS of Growler Stories

From School Library Journal (July 2001):
Growler Radio 26: Timefish. 1 cassette or 1 CD 30 min.
Gr1-6 Growler tapes can't be described, they have to be experienced. Timefish is number 26 in the growing series of totally original audiotapes (& cds) that have been delighting sophisticated children and their parents for several years. Each tape/cd is a wildly original story that utilizes hundreds of unusual sounds to tell a tale that is both exciting and imaginative. In this episode, a group called EARS (Encrusted Animal Rights Society) is mounting a protest against scientists who are studying crickets. The story opens with missing cherry tomatoes and strawberries, moves to a baseball game which quickly leads to the discovery of fish flying out of a hole in the children's house. There is a temporal vortex for time travel and scientific experiments before the mystery is solved. On paper, this story would be senseless, but in the world of audio, it all comes together for great fun. Invest in Growler tapes (& cds) if you work with creative, intelligent children. You have to actively listen to the tapes, and have a strong vocabulary for the stories to begin to make sense. These are not tapes for passive listeners who expect their entertainment to be explained to them word by word. Adult listeners may become as hooked on Growlers as young audiences. (Linda R. Skeel, Western Elementary School, Georgetown, KY)

From School Library Journal (February 2001):
Growler Radio 25: Camouflage. 1 cassette or 1 CD 30 min.
Gr1-6 This tape/cd should be purchased by all public libraries that already have the previous 24 tapes (cds) in this series. For those that have not had the pleasure of listening to a Growler tape, this might be the time to invest in some sophisticated listening entertainment. These tapes are highly original dramas that utilize all sorts of unique voices and sound effects to create a fantasy radio show world. Growler tapes are not for the sing along with Barney crowd. They are for children who have broad vocabularies, creative minds, and are willing to think beyond the box of ordinary storytelling. One of the joys of this series is that it does not talk down to listeners; every seven year old will not be able to understand this drama. For example, when was the last time you encountered the word "shaman" used without explanation for this age level? If your audience is ready to consider the difference between being perfectly camouflaged or being invisible, they are ready to adventure into the magical world of Camouflage. (Linda R. Skeel, Western Elementary School, Georgetown, KY)

From School Library Journal (October 2000):
Growler Radio 24: EverCool. 1 cassette or 1 CD 30 min.
Gr1-6 For sophisticated and precocious children who love understated humor, this tape/cd will provide hours of listening pleasure. The tape/cd is something of a spoof on radio shows such as those on National Public Radio. Basically it presents the story of a pair of girls who solve the mystery of why the meadow is turning brown - because Dr. Growler has invented a machine which vacuums up shadows. The girls become contaminated with shadow essence and must be cured of potential blindness by a group of woodpeckers pecking out rhythms on a sounding board. If the storyline sounds bizarre, it is in keeping with the entire tape/cd, but the zaniness works. The script is peppered with rich vocabulary, while the humor is so subtle that even adults will find themselves listening carefully. The dialogue is snappy, and there are numerous sound effects. This feast for the mind and ears is a must purchase for public libraries, and an excellent source of entertainment for school libraries. (Linda R. Skeel, Western Elementary School, Georgetown, KY)

From School Library Journal (May 2000):
Growler Radio 23: Glitch. 1 cassette or 1 CD 30 min.
Gr 1-6 In the latest installment of the Growler Radio series, the kids find themselves battling the effects of "Glitch," a mineral substance found in most houses usually in the form of jewelry. While every house might have a little Glitch, too much of this mysterious, ominous substance results in time travel disasters and experiences of deja vu. According to the Huhu Authority, the only hope for Growlerville is that all citizens turn in their jewelry in case it harbors Glitch. Add to the mystery the presence of tiny footprints in the bathroom and the discovery of their tiny makers who lead the kids to a strange world where they are amazed to find that everything from objects to people is gigantic. The result is chaos. Those familiar with Growler Radio will not be surprised when the story plot is revealed through through clues and the characters' descriptions of their actions. With no narrator to fill in the gaps, the result is a highly interactive story experience. Close listening is required to pick up the clues as the story emerges through sound effects and brisk dialogue. The sound quality is excellent, and the sound effects never obscure the dialogue necessary to piece together the components of this audio story puzzle. The interactive quality is heightened through the references to the heroes as "the kids," male and female characters through whose eyes listeners discern the action. School and public libraries will find this imaginative audiotape to be an innovative addition to their collections. (Nancy L. Chu, Western Illinois University, Macomb)

School Library Journal August 1999 has an excellent  review of GR 20, Toxic Obnoxic.

Just For Fun: http://familyeducation.com/article/0,1120,24-20065-0-2,00.html
Our family spends a lot of time in the car. A great way to pass the time is listening to Growler Tapes. These tapes, found at www.growler.com, are the state of the art in children’s audio and feature exciting stories, real kids, strange voices, and innovative characters. Designed to make kids listen and learn, there is never a narrator and no weapons or violence appear in Growler stories. Each tape stands on its own and is very reasonably priced ($7 tapes, $13 CD – less for bulk purchases). Turn off the TV and listen!

Fred Koch Reviews http://www.bestchildrensmusic.com/jan00rev.htm
The Growler Tapes offer many examples of storytelling at its best. This "audio adventures" series, which includes 23 titles so far, provides a refreshing alternative in today's licensed-character-driven children's market. Each tape is a separate (and original) story, complete with great sound elements, music and lots of real kids. It's a lot like listening to old radio dramas. "The Classic Series I-IV," which includes the titles "Cutting The Cord," "A Sign From The Sky," "Square Bubbles," and "Quarter Past 20," is geared for children ages 4 to 10; the 19 "Growler Radio" tapes are targeted for the six-and-up crowd. All of these recordings would make great listening during long car trips. So do your kids (and yourself) a favor--turn off the radio, put in one of these tapes and let the magic of storytelling make the miles fly by.

Appearing in April 1999 Midwest Book Review's "Children's Bookwatch"

    The Growler Radio audio series takes storytelling to the status of fine art. Each exciting story features "ear grabbing" characters, introduces vocabulary to the young listener, and features original story concepts designed to make kids age 6 and up listen and learn.
    The series includes I AM NOT A PIG! Looking for a ball kids make a mysterious discovery. Someone dug a hole in the meadow and left a trail of dirt.   Then there are those weird little creatures and that message overheard in the giant house.  And why are all those pigs denying that they're pigs?
    In THE SKY RIDER PROBLEM there's no wind, yet the kite goes straight up until the string runs out. Then, in one instant, the kite comes tumbling down. But in that same instant, much more happened, and some of it is very hard to explain. Like who's flying the kite? And who's riding IN it?
    In WAY OUT, riding in the car turns into an incredible adventure without ever leaving traffic.  A "Way Out" (purified T-9 that looks like a black rubber pizza, but when you put it on a surface it becomes a portable hole you can reach through) was accidentally placed in the black seat of the car, and the kids have fallen in. In order to get back, they had to borrow some equipment. But Growler Louise doesn't like it!
    All three audiobook stories are 30 minutes long.  (Jim Cox, Midwest Book Review)

Appearing in April 1999's MetroParent Magazine:

Growler Radio
    Children's television is much more sophisticated than children's audio. A children's audio recording typically consists of a single man or woman singing or talking, accompanied by a band and perhaps background vocals.  A television program like Sesame Street requires dozens of people just to create a single episode.
    Growler Radio is the exception to this rule. Created by Bob Sakayama, whose music and sound designs are used by major networks, sports teams, program producers, and TV and radio stations, Growler Radio drops listeners into a magical world that seems as real as their own backyards.
    Each Growler tape (there are currently 20) stars two children of unspecified age and gender named Zebe and Rue. Creatures called "Huhu," who are small and have high pitched voices, and "Growlers," who are large and vocalize in intimidating growls, complete the cast.  Listeners eavesdrop on the action, and form their own impressions of how the characters look.
    Story plots, presented as live action plays, are filled with mystery and enchantment. In episode #16, Upsy Crystals suspend characters above the ground and can only be counteracted by smelly Doubt Bushes.  An industrial accident during the manufacture of a magic powder threatens the survival of Growlerville in episode #17. Interspersed throughout the tales are the "news," a magic helpline, a complaint forum, jokes, "historic" context, and more.
    While Growler tapes were created as entertainment for kids ages 4-12, their rich vocabulary and unique qualities have led them to be used in the classroom by mainstream educators, and homeschooler.  This intelligent, gripping series is highly recommended.  (Beth Snider, MetroParent)

From School Library Journal (April 1999):
The Growler Radio stories focus on "Growlers" and the assorted human and fantasy characters who must deal with them. Child listeners will recognize Growlers as those individuals from their own lives who are always in bad moods, expect rules to be followed without question, and are often complainers. Growlers hate to wait for anything. They always look for someone to blame when something goes wrong, and are very suspicious of anyone who is not a Growler. This innovative series combines simulated newscasts and drama to develop intricate mysteries filled with amazing characters including Growlers, Huhu, and real children. The sound palette is unusually imaginative and combines sound effects, music, percussion and children's voices to create moods ranging from whimsy to suspense. The story plots are difficult to pinpoint sometimes, but this is by design. There is no narrator to fill in gaps. Close listening is needed so that clues can be discovered in the music, sound effects, and dialogue. Listeners find themselves discovering a story through conversations, the sounds of events rather than simply following a narrator's description. They are likely to become so involved in the voices and details of these unique mysteries that they will piece together the puzzles themselves. The sound quality is excellent, and the pace of the stories is brisk and dramatic. This is storytelling reminiscent of pre-television days when listeners were invited to create their own images of characters and action. School and public libraries will find these audiocassettes a unique addition to their collections. (Nancy L. Chu, Western Illinois University, Macomb)