A story about fluffy friends saving the planet, via time travel (of course)
Book Review No. 16: Mixlings in Time: Time Warped by Linda Rossel and Renee Cooley Riegler
Format: Audiobook (Audible), narrated by Michael Tucker
Series: Mixlings in Time no. 1
Genre: Children’s science fiction/save-the-planet/animal books (age 6-10)
Content for the Sensitive Reader: No foul language or crude humor, some mild suspense, deception (in order to do a favor). Safe for a very young audience.
Completion Date: February 7, 2020
So before the review, I owe a thank-you to Michael Tucker for the free copy in return for the review. I was perfectly pleased to do an audiobook review as a reader and narrator so I could plunge into all those details together.
The Book Itself/Writing
Well, the opening doesn’t waste much time. The listener is tumbled literally headlong into an adventure already in process. And while long openings can be annoying…I have to admit, this one was a little confusing. The fact that we had animals now different types of animals all introduced at once spiced heavily with onomatopoeias–it was a bit much all at once.
After the initial jumble, however, I had no trouble keeping track of anything. The characters each had distinct personalities, the plot was straightforward enough for a young audience, and the noisy opening style disappeared entirely.
In short, Cicero, Emerson, and Mendel, three best friends and animals, are off to save the dying forests of the world for their scientist/father figure by finding three plants to make a scientific serum–your typical hero’s quest. But to add to the excitement, those three plants exist only one hundred years in the past. And a delicious tweak of a half-built time machine renders them all hybrid animal creatures–Mixlings.
It’s all very good-hearted and innocent. I’m often annoyed by foul language/content in books for young audiences, but delightfully, this book has none of that. So three cheers there! The message of embracing who you are is light enough not to be overpowering, but no less present. There are also sweet little things to make any reader smile–seriously, a ferret in search of chocolate donuts and an armadillo who likes to think of himself like a tank?
On the other hand…
Even though it’s intended for a young audience, I found myself wanting a little more from the descriptions. I mean, yes, we all know what a forest looks like. But what about the sounds? The smells? And with a discussion of time travel, we really don’t know what that’s like. Is there a pop? An electric fizz? A little more there could have made a young reader fascinated.
I’ve also grumbled before about my disdain for books with agendas–Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider sequel, for example. Mixlings in Time isn’t too far off from that. It’s still the story of the world falling apart through human disregard. Another issue is when, to make the plot and ideas simple enough for young kids, ideas verge toward over-simplicity. Is everyone cutting down trees evil now? Even sustainable forestry? That isn’t addressed. The villainous poacher in particular had something of a “hillbilly” accent, perfectly accomplished on the part of the narrator, but a bit of a stereotype.
Anyway. That’s more of a personal thing than anything else.
No discussion of an audiobook is complete without talking about the narration! It’s what makes the form unique.
The narrator has a good voice for kids’ books, warm and comfortable, but perfectly ready to change to different pitches and speeds for the different characters.
A few favorites:
- Pythagoras: I seriously loved the lilt of the accent. It was quite a surprise to hear the narrator’s comfortable tones to jump to such a contrast for the anteater. Listening to that character voice was probably my favorite part.
- Different voice styles for each of the main characters: gruff and shouty for Mendel, light and feminine for Cicero, and jumpy and eager for Emerson.
- Poacher accent: I know I also griped about this, but the narration was done very well. From the dialogue alone, I probably wouldn’t have imagined him any other way.
- Bernie the hibernating bear: I don’t even know why I thought this, but at times he sounded like Batman to me.
There were a couple of odd hiccups in the audio from editing…but again, I probably was only distracted by them because I narrate myself.
Rating books can be tricky. It’s sort of like trying to explain to people that my bookshelf is simultaneously organized by author, series, genre, size, favoritism, target audience age, and acquisition date.
Yeah. I have quirks. But I know exactly where everything is. And I usually know when a book is the right thing to recommend.
Mixlings is a tricky book to review. I am a diehard fantasy child, but I hardly ever read books narrated solely by animals or “save the planet” books these days. Most of the children’s books I read are middle-grade teetering on the verge of YA. Mixlings in Time is probably a book I’d never have picked up myself.
That aside, it’s not bad for what it is. It’s clean and safe without a speck of foul language or crude humor. So in that way, it’s good for all audiences, and probably the perfect thing for a little one who loves animals and adventure.
It would be unfair for me to rate it on the same scale that I do the latest fantasy novel. You can’t compare fluffy squirrels with Rings of Power.
So in the young children’s sci-fi audiobook genre?
BookmarkedOne Rating: 7/10
Extra points for narration, and a few deducted for writing that could have been a smidge better. Good for bookish, animal-loving kids.