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Absolute Zero, Chapter 1, part 1

It’s time for a new book in the “Kayray Reads to You” Podcast! Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell, is the second book in the wonderful Bagthorpe Saga. Well, I should qualify that — the first four books in the series are wonderful. After that… well, let’s just say I recommend you stick to the first four ;-)


Absolute Zero, Chapter 1, Part 1 (11:42)

Please note: I made these recordings around 2002, and the sound quality is not as good as my more recent recordings. But I hope you will not mind the lower quality too much. You’ll probably be too busy laughing to notice, anyway.

Absolute Zero takes place in 1970s England and concerns the eccentric and multi-talented Bagthorpe family. In this book, Uncle Parker wins a contest and sets off a hilarious and chaotic chain of events in which the family’s pudding-footed mongrel dog, Zero, plays an increasingly large role. The humor is dry and very British, so it might not suit all listeners; however, I thought this series was the funniest thing I’d ever read when I discovered them at about age 10, and my son enjoyed the stories at age 6 or so, though he has been said to have “an advanced sense of humor”. This book still makes me laugh aloud every time I read it!

While searching for the right cover art (not easy), I bumped into a good review. Here’s an excerpt, and you might like to read the whole thing.

One of the things I like best about the Bagthorpe books is that the family is neither full of happy supportiveness nor full of abuse and negativity. The kids snipe at each other occasionally, mostly ignore each other, and rally around each other against any attack from the outside. The father screams a lot and is relentlessly sarcastic; the mother is practical but occasionally ineffective and distracted. Cresswell finds humor by exaggerating normal human behavior patterns until they break and throwing on beautifully timed coincidences, avoiding both the sickly-sweet feeling of some children’s books and the over-the-top nastiness of others. It’s very nicely done.

The book is, sadly, out of print in the US. You can find a few used copies on Amazon: Absolute Zero on Amazon. Beware. Every edition after the original 1978 printing has the wrong cover art.

Category: Audiobooks, Blog 2 comments »

2 Responses to “Absolute Zero, Chapter 1, part 1”

  1. Kevin


    I’m not sure if this is the right place to say this, but I just wanted to let you know that we’ve used your recording of Peter Rabbit as part of a bilingual reader on (we’re a dictionary and language learning site aimed at Chinese people learning English and English speakers learning Chinese). You can find it at

    Thanks so much for making the recording and releasing it on Librivox, we think it will be really helpful for English learners.

    – Kevin

  2. kara

    Hi Kevin, I’m so glad my recordings are helpful to you!

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