Daletackles Harry's last hurrah with the same undercurrent of excitement and mind-boggling roster of distinct character voices that he brought to his previous six performances. Less of the Hogwarts setting, and a more dangerous quest for Harry and his friends, means that Dale has less jocularity to work with here (something at which he excels), but he does not disappoint in conveying both the heart-rending drama and sense of closure of Rowling's final Potter outing. Late in the recording, when Harry realizes his fate and Rowling's plot twists fly, Dale is at the top of his game, drawing listeners into the orbit of his comforting voice. Throughout, Harry and his friends appropriately sound a bit older than they did in the early volumes, and it's hard to know whether it's imagined or not, but there's a hint of wistfulness in Dale's voice, perhaps because both narrator and listener know it's the last time they'll be together for a new Potter adventure. The CD packaging, which makes extensive use of Mary GrandPr's spot illustrations and cover art on the discs and sleeves, is also a treat for fans. Ages 10-up. (July)[Page 70]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 6 Up--Listeners may want to linger over Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Scholastic, 2007) since this is J. K. Rowling's last installment in her universally successful fantasy series. Howeverm the high-tension adventures of Harry assisted by Hermione and Ron will immediately draw everyone into the quest to vanquish Voldemort. With the Dark Lord in control of the Ministry of Magic, the trio uses their combined wizardly talents to stay hidden as they follow Dumbledore's assignment to destroy the dangerous horcruxes. Finding those fragmented pieces of their enemy's soul lead the friends to angry arguments, near fatal encounters and, occasionally, humorous episodes. Pursuing Dumbledore's oblique clues also reveal the truth behind a powerful, death-defying magic wand and stone, but that knowledge threatens to sidetrack the teens. The final confrontation is a bloody battle at Hogworts that involves the vast cast of creatures, allies and foes from the previous six volumes. In the end, Harry learns unexpected truths that are pivotal in the concluding struggle between good and evil. Narrator Jim Dale again serves up superbly distinctive characters and adds excitement when he narrates action scenes. Creating more than 200 voices for the Potter series, Dale has not only brought a rich vocal presence to the text, but he's also set an audiobook record for the number of characters portrayed. For those who've enjoyed the print version of the book, listening to this recording will extend and enhance the inspiring climax to this legendary septet.--Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT[Page 74]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.