In The World Of Kids Audio, Growlers Stand Alone
In a world where television, computers, and dvds rule, there is still one company that has been stubbornly focusing on kids audio. The creators of The Growler Tapes, Growler Radio, and Baby Growlers has been in the kids audio business for over 20 years, producing intelligently humorous content merged with exceptional production standards.
None of the major publishers has audio divisions that create original programs. They do all have audiobook divisions, but these recordings are merely further exploitation of existing properties (books), in which voice talent reads a book out loud. This is entertaining and an easy way to experience literature, but it is far from the creative use of audio.
Here in Growlerville, the kids audio capital, recording sound and music is a high art. Microphones are at the center of what happens here, but that's where the similarity with audiobooks ends.
Unlike books, which rely on reading skills, Growler programs exand the experience of listening. They are created as audio experiences. Kids audio happens right before you. There's an alternate reality aspect in which there are no visual guides, so the listener defines everything in the imagination.
Growlers push this envelope. Counterintuitive and logical, the ideas in these kids audio programs speak to relevant kid issues with entertainment at the fore. Kids stay with it because the content is intelligent and funny, even as it's exciting. All songs and audio stories assume a smart kid is listening.
Audio experimentation is a big part of the mix. Like using animals and sounds as surrogates for musical instruments. Like taking human voices outside their normal range. In Growlerville, it normal to have frogs providing the percussion in a song sung by frogs. There are stories in which the audio environment was created from sounds recorded in subway tunnels, or from sounds gathered by microphones suspended down drains, or inside motors.
Kids audio has a completely different meaning for us. It's a place where fun meets art, technology, and literature - all at once.
Turn off the TV and listen.
People often refer to Growler stories as kids audiobooks. Because it is the only reference they have for our product. But Growler stories never existed as books. They were, from the start, intended as listening experiences. They were created as audiodrama, kind of like old time radio, incredibly suped up with the modern recording technologies.
Kids audiobooks have become such a big business, that Growlers are sometimes forced into that category in order to get a listing in directories and such.
But you should know that the literary artform of kid's audio is much more than just audiobooks. Remember, audiobooks are merely actors reading words - another way for the big publishers to exploit their assets - their books. Books were intended to be read. Not that they make bad listening, but the aural experience of a book is much more of an interpretation of the original work. And kids audiobooks are similarly just reading material read aloud.
That's opposed to an audio artform created and produced specifically for listening - like Growler stories, or Growler music. In both cases, it's much more than the words that matter. The audio palette for a kids audiobook is usually a voice talent (reader) and a few prerecorded sounds or music. Contrast that with a typical audio palette for a Growler program: hundreds of sounds, audio environments,original music and sound design, many voices - massaged with technology to represent both huge and tiny creatures, and audiodrama that takes advantage of the aural medium.
o yes, look for Growlers in the kids audiobooks section, but remember what they really are: audio art. It's a rare, but compelling form of literature, often misunderstood, even by librarians.
But ask a kid who is familiar with our work whether he/she would rather listen to kids audiobooks or a Growler program. Or ask a parent who knows which programs get the most play in their house.
"My daughter has the Disney and other classic stories on tape, but will only listen to Growlers." (Tracy Marr)
"Re ordering them because our son has been listening online to your story samples over and over and over..." (David Ober)
"Bravo! Our kids love these tapes. The images created in their minds (ages 5 + 2 1/2) are so fantastic & real that they ask if they can "watch" a Growler tape. This is the type of children's product that makes the world a better place. Well done!" (Rosemary Laberee, Home Educator)
Growler programs are sophisticated audiodrama, not kids audiobooks.