Brave Irene Review
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Paperback with Unabridged Audiobook: 1 CD (13 minutes)
Read by Meryl Streep

It seems that nearly every year, during the chilly winter months, Meryl Streep’s name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Nearly every year, the 16-time Oscar nominee (and two-time Oscar winner) offers up another award-worthy performance—and, as another award season begins, she’s once again the talk of Hollywood (this year, it’s for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady). But Streep doesn’t just devote her time to Oscar-contending films. She also takes time out for smaller projects—like narrating the audio version of author and illustrator William Steig’s classic children’s book, Brave Irene.

The story follows a determined little girl on a very important errand. Irene’s mother has spent days sewing a beautiful gown for the duchess to wear at the ball—but, with just a few hours to go before the ball begins, she becomes sick, and she can’t make the delivery.

Though the snow has started to fall, Irene decides to make the long journey to the palace by herself, to make sure that the beautiful ball gown arrives safely and on time. The wind, however, has a very different plan—and though the wind seems determined to get her to turn around and go home, Irene continues on, even more determined to complete her important mission.

Playfully written and beautifully worded, Brave Irene tells an inspiring story of one little girl’s bravery and determination. Though the wind blows around her—and the falling snow obscures her path—Irene refuses to back down. Of course, it probably isn’t all that wise for a little girl to be trudging alone through a blizzard, but that’s not really the point. What’s important is that she stands up to the challenges that come her way—and she’s rewarded for her courage in the end.

The story is accompanied by Steig’s simply snowy illustrations, which will almost make you feel the biting cold of the whipping wind in this winter storm. To get an even better feel for the story, though, you can also listen along with the additional audio CD—with its wintery sound effects and, of course, Streep’s narration. You can choose from two different versions: the regular version or the read-along version, with a tone that indicates when to turn the page.

Though Streep’s read is a bit drawn out in the beginning of the story (especially when voicing Irene’s sick mother), her theatrical read fits perfectly as the story continues—and it’s an absolute delight to listen along as she acts out Irene’s battle with the persistent wind. This may not be one of her Oscar-contending roles, but she still gives the performance her all, resulting in a captivating audiobook.

Now that the winter winds are blowing outside, it’s the perfect time to cuddle up inside your cozy, warm house and enjoy the story of Brave Irene with your kids. With its inspiring story, its snowy illustrations, and the accompanying CD, it’s sure to charm every member of the family.

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