Running Scared

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, May 10, 2018


For Week 3 of SYNC 2018, we’re offering a pair of audiobooks in which boys are running for their lives. Some teen listeners will identify with one or another of these young people while others, through listening, can discover empathy for circumstances in which they have never found themselves.


JOHNNY GET YOUR GUN is a detective mystery written half a century ago by John Ball and newly brought to audiobook format by award-winning narrator Dion Graham, for Brilliance Publishing. Listeners will forget quickly that this title is as old as it is because its story could be set today with unfortunate credibility. Police detective Virgil Tibbs is assigned to find a small, bullied boy who has stolen his parents’ gun and taken off from home. Complicating the relationship between the detective and the parents is the fact that Tibbs is black, and the white parents don’t trust that he is both capable and interested in saving their child. Graham has recorded the whole Virgil Tibbs series and does a smart job of giving voice to the detective’s interior life as well as to the people with whom he works and copes in his role as civic guardian. You can read about the character of Virgil Tibbs in the 1978 collection by Otto Penzler titled The Great Detectives: The World’s Most Celebrated Sleuths Unmasked by Their Authors.

Paired with this mystery novel is the autobiography of Abbas Kazerooni, who narrates ON TWO FEET AND WINGS for Brilliance Publishing himself. At the same age as when Johnny was stealing his parents’ gun, Kazerooni was escaping, on his own, from Tehran. Living on his own in Istanbul, Kazerooni grows up relying only on himself, learning how to judge who might be a true friend and who is a dangerous enemy. What happened to Kazerooni? You can read this interview to find out.

Week 3’s fiction and nonfiction both give listeners authentic voices and insights on how to cope when life seems to be unrelentingly frightening. What would you do in Johnny or Abbas’ place?

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