Today’s entry is a bit different. With the school year now in full swing, we’re finding it tougher to squeeze in pockets of reading like we were able to in the summer. That’s where audiobooks come in! Listening to audiobooks during short car rides and other short quiet periods makes it possible to fit in time for books around the craziness of everyday life. And these days, life is crazy for everyone, whether you’re still completely homebound or starting to venture back into the world of work and/or school.

Audiobooks also add an extra little something to stories that you don’t necessarily get when you’re reading them yourself. Books can really come to life depending on the skill of the narrator/cast and the use of sound effects and music. That was our experience when we listened to Jukebox Joyride, an Audible Originals book, written by Jacob Stein and Jason Rabinowitz.

First off, a note for adults who may be listening along to this story with their kids: You are going to have to suspend belief and refrain from blurting out, ‘that’s not how time travel works!’ throughout the duration of this audiobook. First of all, none of us really know how time travel would work and second, constantly bringing up the plot holes within this story will only result in a big bummer for your kids. Sure, as adults we may take issue with parts of the book but it’s written for children, so keep that in mind as you listen along. And now…

Jukebox Joyride tells the story of 12 year old twins George and Jules and their time traveling adventure through musical history. Raised by their mother after their father dies when they’re babies, they’re also very close to their Uncle Bob. He’s an ethnomusicologist, an insanely interesting profession that I only learned of from listening to this book. It means that he studies music from cultures all around the world. The kids have obviously followed in his music-loving footsteps, as they are fans of 1970s punk rock, are members of their school’s stage band and they also perform in their own garage band, The Unlimited Breadsticks.

When Uncle Bob mysteriously disappears on camera after winning an old music box on the TV show Pawn Stars, it’s up to George and Jules to bring him back home and save the history of all music kind as we know it! Through the assistance of time travel and a kindly neighborhood record store owner, a package from their Uncle Bob is delivered to the twins. The curious package contains a smaller, but similar, music box to the one they saw Uncle Bob win on the show.

The music box should just be an amazing tool for visiting some of the most incredible musical performances of all time but alas, there’s always a catch in stories about time travel, right? In Jukebox Joyride, we learn that there is a mysterious evil force called the Tin Ear that is trying to erase the musical history of the entire world. George and Jules must travel through time not only to find their Uncle Bob but to also locate the origin of the Tin Ear to prevent it from being created, or at least used, to erase all that we know and love about music.

Along the way, the twins visit New Orleans and learn about the history of jazz. I will interject that there is a brief mention of slavery in this part of the book but it really does feel glanced over and like an afterthought. If you have a child who is mature enough to handle a more in-depth, age appropriate account of slavery, it would pair well with this story. After barely escaping the police in New Orleans, the children are transported back to the present day, where they continue to go to school and band practice as though things were completely normal.

The children also travel to Vienna, Austria where they meet a young Mozart, as well as his sister and father. Mozart shares sheet music with the kids which later proves important in keeping their mission on track. Later in the story you also learn that in his younger days, Uncle Bob was the lead singer of Radio Darling, a band that was poised for stardom. But on the night of what was to be their big break, things go terribly wrong. Is it possible that this entire situation is tied to that fateful night? Is there someone from Uncle Bob’s past who is behind the Tin Ear and the evil plot to overthrow musical history? Hmm, I wonder…

I would suggest Jukebox Joyride as a fun alternative to screens during car rides, or maybe during bath time. Probably not bed time, as the music may be a distraction. Though the characters are 12 years old, I believe this book is better suited for a younger crowd, maybe 6-9. Enjoy rocking out together!  

Side note: George is bullied by a jerk at school, which I didn’t think was an entirely necessary B-plot but knowing kids deal with bullies, maybe it’s helpful for grade school listeners. Personally, I wanted to reach through my phone to throttle the kid but I guess that’s the mom in me. Adults were nowhere to be found during these moments of torment but that’s probably fairly accurate for how bullies operate. It’s just something I want readers to be aware of. I wouldn’t want anyone caught by surprise, as it does seemingly come out of nowhere.

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