What I Call Life

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by Jill Wolfson

When Cal Lavender’s mother has an “unfortunate episode” at the library, Cal is taken to a group care home run by a strange old woman called “The Knitting Lady.” Cal is clear that this is not her real life, just a temporary detour. But even detours can take you where you need to be. A charming, funny, and insightful first novel.

Author Jill Wolfson
Narrator Grace Kelly
Length 6 hrs and 32 mins
© Copyright 2005 Jill Wolfson
℗ Audio Copyright 2006 Full Cast Audio


“The unusual mix of personalities at the Pumpkin House makes this an extraordinarily interesting story. Through her storytelling, the Knitting Lady helps the girls come to accept themselves, despite their problems. The Full Cast Family provides a splendid performance. Vaudeville style piano music punctuates the beginning and end of chapters. A good addition to middle school and public library collections” — School Library Journal

“Full Cast Audio does an extraordinary job of bringing Jill Wolfson’s debut novel to life.” — AudioFile 2005

“With richly drawn characters that are all dealing with their own levels of denial and life-changing realities, listeners will become emotionally invested themselves. The full cast of actors adds dimensions to the telling that make this marvelous audio one that should not be missed. Each vocal performance is intimate, real, and passionate making it feel very much like a life being lived right along with the characters. The emotion, tension, sadness, and ultimate hopefulness are all flawlessly conveyed. Cal Lavender’s life will never be the same and neither will the lives of listeners. Highly recommended for school and public libraries and for family road trips.” — KLIATT

“Listeners accustomed to adult readers imitating youngsters will be pleasantly surprised to hear a youngster (Grace Kelly) reading the narrator role and that of 11-year-old protagonist Cal Lavender….Cal is moved to a group home, after her unstable mother causes an incident in the library. Here she meets four other girls and a kind, elderly caretaker known as the Knitting Lady. The Knitting Lady speaks with a slight stammer, which reader Caroline Fitzgerald subtly injects into her exquisite performance. Initially, her slightly craggy voice is a little off-putting, but it slowly grows on you and soon you will agree that no one else could play the Knitting Lady with such authenticity.” Booklist Editor’s ChoiceBooklist November 15, 2006 [udesign_icon_font name=”fa fa-star” color=”#dd9933″ size=”1em”] Starred Review

Praise for the print version of What I Call Life:

“A grand-slam homerun, Wolfson’s first novel depicts wonderfully kooky characters with fast pacing and witty dialogue that realistically portray the emotional growth in severely damaged children, keeping readers laughing and crying throughout. ” — VOYA

“Wolfson paints her characters with delightful authenticity. Her debut novel is a treasure of quiet good humor and skillful storytelling that conveys subtle messages about kindness, compassion, and the gift of family regardless of its configuration” — Booklist  [udesign_icon_font name=”fa fa-star” color=”#dd9933″ size=”1em”] Starred Review

Listen to samples from this audiobook:
  1. The children's reactions to death run the gamut. (2:06) Jill Wolfson 2:06

Meet the Cast:
Cynthia Bishop Nurse F.
Bruce Coville Officer Quiggly
Jo D’Aloisio Whitney
Caroline Fitzgerald Knitting Lady
Grace Gates Amber
Moe Harrington Mrs. S.
Grace Kelly Cal
Marissa McLean Floppy Haired Girl
Emily Meidenbauer Fern
William Meidenbauer Bus Driver
Ellen Paparone Monica
Mike Stevens Life Guard
Directed by: Victoria King
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