Recently in Audio Book News Category

The King of Nowhere is here!

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Our new Rockford's Rock Opera audiobook album is now available from the Rockford shop. We can get it as a download or on CD (with a lyric book).

With a new 75 minute audio adventure and 6 new Rockford songs, it's perfect for any Rockford's Rock Opera fan this summer.

Get it now and tell us what you think?

A New Rockford's Rock Opera Album

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We're delighted to announce that a new Rockford's Rock Opera audio book, The King of Nowhere will be out on CD in February.

Please join our Facebook page for more details:

We're really excited about this new story continuing the story of the Cocklebur Ick on Infinity. The 75 minute audio story includes 6 new Rockford songs and an amazing new story for all ages.

We hope you enjoy it. The album will be available from the Rockford's Rock Opera shop very soon.

Rockford's Summer Song

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Summer's here so here's Rockford's Summer Song! You'll need to LIKE us on Facebook to hear!

Hope you like it!

A Lovely Review

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We've had lots of really nice reviews recently for our Rockford's Rock Opera website and CDs but also for our very popular series of iPhone Apps.

Here's a recent review from the excellent Mummy Rates It blog:

Review: Rockford's Rock Opera (App)

Our kids love books. They have piles of them in their bedrooms, they suck-up catalogues, brochures and leaflets like a pair of famished anteaters and if it's not being looked at it's being listened to - story CDs are also a big must. However, we had never ventured into story Apps until Louise at Rock and Roll Baby World enticed us to review Rockford's Rock Opera, promising an adventure not to be forgotten.

Canine capers: Rockford of Rockford's Rock Opera

Rockford: not to be sniffed at

Who is this Rockford? And what is he doing on my iPhone?

I was surprised to discover that Rockford has been doing the rounds for the last few years. He is already a hit on the net, has had a stage show, video game and is even in talks to have his own film. A move into the world of the App (or should that be yApp?) seems only natural for such a popular pooch.

So what, you may ask, makes Rockford so popular?

Well, as you watch the Rock Opera you realise there's more to this story than the superb graphics, animation and songs (more of that later). Rockford's Rock Opera has all the appeal of a Disney classic, yet its messages are far more profound. Branded an ecological musical it examines the evolution and extinction of animals and plants. However, it does not end there. Rockford's Rock Opera also conveys the importance of trust and forgiveness.

Does that all sound a bit dry for a kids' story?

You'd think so but team Sweetapple, the self-produced and financed duo behind Rockford's Rock Opera, have employed clever tactics to appeal to kids. First, you have the loveable Rockford, a pooch who accidently gets a Cocklebur Ick (yes, you read that right) stuck to his bottom. Then there's his owner, a boy called Moog, whose love for Rockford leads to a frantic race with 'The Registrar' to prevent Canine extinction.

Colonel Kitchener Utensil: just one of the characters in Rockford's Rock Opera

Colonel Kitchener Utensil: a leggy Dectopus

Secondly, the story rolls out alongside magnificent graphics and animation. Not being an App expert, I was expecting something pretty 'flat'. However, the App has a cinematic quality which wows the audience. For example, the opening scene with Moog in Battersea Park reminded me of graphics used in The Polar Express.

Lastly, the soundtrack gives 'good sway!' Not at all cheesy, the songs, liberally peppered throughout the 4 parts, reference The Beatles, The Flaming Lips and even The Streets. Instantly likeable, it's easy to imagine them being performed on the big stage. All this and you've got the dulcet tones of Steve Punt narrating and appearing throughout.

Unsurprisingly parents aren't the only ones to see the benefits of hanging with Rockford. Thousands of teachers worldwide are now planning lessons around the Opera's messages. If you would like to have some App-y times with Rockford you can download the first part of the story for free. The other 3 parts can be downloaded from the Apple store and can be viewed on iPhone, iPad and iTouch.

Here's a lovely Review of Rockford's Rock Opera from Inside the Wendy House - a lovely blog for children and parents:

This is what they said :-)

Music is a fundamental part of life Inside the Wendy House.  From my own teenaged songstress, to my guitar playing husband to my all singing, all dancing little ones, not a moment goes by where our love of music does not figure in some way.

So when I was offered the chance to review Rockford's Rock Opera I was only too happy to be able to introduce something new into my home for my music loving family to enjoy.  I'm so glad I did.

Created by Sweetapple and written by comedian Steve Punt, it is an adventure like no other.  An amazing story where sound effects, narration, fantastic characters and wonderful songs combine to create a unique adventure in sound.  The central character is Rockford the dog.

The story tells us about the far, away Sea of Tranquility where the Island of Infinity lies.  Here is home to the last one of every extinct animal species, the world's lost creatures.  And they have a secret for the world!

The Rockford's Rock Opera is a triple CD pack.  The complete story of Rockford's Rock Opera is told in three parts.  Each enhanced CD features an animated video bringing the story to life and comes with a 24 page illustrated booklet featuring the song lyrics.  

The Rockford's Rock Opera is like an audio book which tells a beautiful story with great songs.  It is quite dark in parts but is ultimately about hope.  At two and a half hours long it is perfect for a long car journey (which is how we first listened to it!)  It is an entertaining tale with memorable tunes, fantastical creatures and great music.  "The Cocklebur Ick" song has become a family favourite with its catchy chorus!

The most powerful thing about this Rock Opera is the message contained within the songs.  The idea that we can learn so much from the world and its vast array of inhabitants, many of which have been around for millions of years. It reminds us of the tragedy of extinction.  It teaches us to respect our world, to listen, to look, to learn.  The power to save the planet is here...we just have to find it!  In these times when children are so clued up on the environment, this comes as a real breath of fresh air and food for thought about the future of our planet (albeit in a fictional, fantastical way!)

For more details, sample music and to buy a copy, check out their website.  For just £15.99 you could own this stunning piece of musical storytelling!

A big THANK YOU for such a lovely review! For more like this please subscribe to Inside the Wendy House

Rockford's Rock Opera Children's App hits Top 10!

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Rockford's Rock Opera, the award winning ecological musical App for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, has hit the Top 10 of the App Book Charts.


At time of writing, Rockford's Rock Opera (Part 2) - £2.99 from the Apple App Store - is No 9 in the App Book Charts, beating other classic children's brands such as Mickey Mouse and The Three Little Pigs! And Rockford's Rock Opera (Part 1), which is free, is now at No 20 in the free charts.


Importantly, these chart positions have been achieved with no promotion on behalf of Rockford's creators. Word of mouth among children and parents has been the key.


With two further Parts now nearing completion, these are exciting times for Rockford's Rock Opera which recently passed another milestone, 1,000,000 story downloads from the website.


With a mixture of great music, clear narration, songs, animation and illustrations, together with information about the facts behind the story, Rockford's Rock Opera is the perfect app for all ages.

About Rockford's Rock Opera

Writing in The Times newspaper, children's audiobook reviewer, Christina Hardyment said:

"Rockford's Rock Opera is an amazing mix of story, songs and sound effects. It has a freshness that makes you smile as you listen and could become a cult favourite as beloved as Wallace and Gromit.

Created by Sweetapple and featuring and scripted by respected BBC writer and performer, Steve Punt, this is also a story is a story with an original ecological message - a unique 'take' on the threat of extinction and the effect man is having upon life on earth. The Rockford's Rock Opera website is full of fascinating information about the story and the facts behind the fiction.


To discover Rockford's Rock Opera, take a look at our website or search Rockford's Rock Opera in the Apple App store

The Best Children's Audio Books 2010

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Rockford's Rock Opera is the perfect Christmas audio book for all ages. Children and adults alike. Not only its there a Christmas, wintery feel to the story, complete with snow and magical happenings, it's an ecological tale of hope for all ages.

Here's the Guardian's Christmas audiobook review:

"For years I've distributed Christmas presents of Peter and the Wolf to small children starting flute/clarinet/piano lessons. This year I'm breaking new ground with this thoroughly modern musical for kids about a boy called Moog and a dog called Rockford...

Ingenious story, foot-tapping music and three booklets containing not just the lyrics so you can all sing along, but lots of quirky pictures of strange animals, sci-fi scenery, Battersea power station and other stuff that children think about while practising arpeggios."
Sue Arnold (The Guardian)

Of course, Rockford's Rock Opera isn't just for children learning music. Another who loves a good Christmas audio story and great music at Christmas will enjoy the adventure.

As The Times Best Kids Audiobooks for Christmas review said:

"Rockford's Rock Opera is an amazing mix of story, songs and sound effects. It has a freshness that makes you smile as you listen and could become a cult favourite as beloved as Wallace and Gromit."
Christina Hardyment (The Times)

But, as the Observer Review of the Best Audiobooks pointed out, the great thing about Rockford's Rock Opera is that you can sample an hour of the story free for Christmas. It's a free Christmas story online for everyone to enjoy this festive season.

Happy Christmas and welcome to Rockford's Rock Opera the best free children's audio book for Xmas!

The Award WInning Children's Audio Book App

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Rockford's Rock Opera, the award winning ecological musical for children and adults, has announced the launch of a new children's audio book app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.


Rockford's Rock Opera (Part One) was launched as an app in January 2010 and swiftly became the most popular children's audio book in the App Store.

Now, with the launch of Part Two of the story as a paid for App, fans can enjoy the next amazing instalment in the musical story which recently won the prestigious iParenting Media Award.


With a mixture of great music, clear narration, songs, animation and illustrations, together with information about the facts behind the story, Rockford's Rock Opera on the iPhone is the perfect app for all ages. Great for keeping children quiet with a safe, thought provoking ecological tale. Visit the App store, read our reviews, and download Rockford's Rock Opera (Part One) FREE and then buy Rockford's Rock Opera (Part Two) for just £4.99


Parts Three and Four of Rockford's Rock Opera (making up the whole story) will be launched as iPhone/iPod Touch Apps soon but, if you can't wait to know what happens, visit the website and buy the audiobook on CD, as story downloads or as an online read along book.


More about Rockford's Rock Opera


Rockford's Rock Opera has now been downloaded or streamed on the web by over 1,000,000 people - in fact, it's the world's most popular enhanced audio book.


Writing in The Times, audiobook reviewer, Christina Hardyment said:

"Rockford's Rock Opera is an amazing mix of story, songs and sound effects. It has a freshness that makes you smile as you listen and could become a cult favourite as beloved as Wallace and Gromit.

Rockford's Rock Opera a new breed of 21st century, ipod friendly, audio entertainment; think of 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' crossed with 'Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds', or 'Jungle Book' meets 'Jurassic Park' via Sgt. Pepper.


But really, it's not like anything else - a funny, sad, psychedelic, spell binding, thought provoking 21st Century adventure.


Rockford's Rock Opera is NOT the creation of a global entertainment company. It is the work of award winning alternative entrepreneurs, 'Sweetapple', ( and a handful of dedicated people working for the love of this amazing, original story. The project was created in an attic in Barnet, North London, and is entirely self produced and financed.


Featuring and scripted by respected BBC writer and performer, Steve Punt, this is also a story is a story with an original ecological message - a unique 'take' on the threat of extinction and the effect man is having upon life on earth. The Rockford's Rock Opera website is full of fascinating information about the story and the facts behind the fiction.


As a result, the project has been acclaimed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Rockford's Rock Opera stage show is going live across the UK in 2010.


So what's the Story about?


Far away in the Sea of Tranquillity lies the Island of Infinity, home to the last one of every extinct species.


Infinity has a secret for the world but Moog, a boy from Battersea in London, and Rockford his dog, are the only one who can deliver its message. Travelling to Infinity Moog and Rockford get drawn into an adventure in sound that threatens the entire human race.

Matthew Sweetapple, co creator of Rockford's Rock Opera, explains:


"It's great to see how popular Rockford's Rock Opera had become on the App store. As an enhanced App audio book, the story works really well. It's a bit like a 21st century Jackernory. Great for travelling and, with more and more iPhones being used to keep the kids happy, we're confident it'll prove increasingly popular with harassed parents!"


Rockford's Rock Opera is not a traditional 'stage musical' with hammy songs, its diverse musical inspiration can be found in The Beatles, The Small Faces,
(early) Genesis, XTC and works such as Roger Glover's 'Butterfly Ball', and Harry Nilssen's 'The Point'.



About Sweetapple

Husband and wife team, Matthew and Elaine Sweetapple (Sweetapple) create original ideas, campaigns, products and promotions for charitable causes and for the benefit of society as a whole. Sweetapple ideas are now being adopted by not-for-profit organisations and campaigners around the world at no cost whatsoever to the charities whatsoever.
Some recent award winning Sweetapple campaigns included Peeball, an idea created for The Prostate Cancer Charity (see, Remember Me, the weeping flower roadside memorial sign to raise the profile of the road accident victim's charity, RoadPeace.



More Species on the Brink

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Yet another species, sadly perhaps destined to appear in a future episode of Rockford's Rock Opera musical story for the iPod Touch, iPhone and now, the iPad.

A new survey has revealed that finless porpoises, a rare type of toothed whale living in the coastal waters of Asia, are more endangered than previously thought.

Scientists say there are two species of the creature in Asia and that they rarely intermingle, the BBC reported.

They have also warned that the ones living in the freshwater of China's Yangtze river are genetically unique and should be protected from extinction.

"The most surprising finding of this study is that the Yangtze finless porpoise represents a distinct genetic grouping, which is distinct from marine porpoises," Professor Guang Yang of China's Nanjing Normal University said.

According to the study published in the journal of Marine Biology, each population of finless porpoise is distinct with significant implications for their conservation and survival.

A group of Chinese and British researchers found that freshwater porpoises should be especially managed and conserved separately.

"The freshwater nature of this population makes it unique," Yang explained.

Scientists, however, are not sure whether the Yangtze finless porpoise should be granted species status.

"The most recent field survey conducted in 2006 suggested that there were around 1,000 individuals in the Yangtze River," Yang said.

"This is much smaller than previous estimates, suggesting a significant population decline in the past two decades."

The Yangtze River is the site of the first recorded extinction of a cetacean (whale, dolphins and porpoises), including the Baiji, a species of river dolphin.

Lizards getting too Hot... for our audio book

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I noticed this recent report and, since we're now working on Part Two of Rockford's Rock Opera audio book, featuring some scaly characters, I thought I ought to mention it...

One-fifth of the world's lizard species, including iguanas, geckos, skinks and snakes, could disappear in a few decades unless steps are taken to curb global warming, an international team of scientists has warned.

The biologists, led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Ohio University, say they've already recorded alarming die-offs of lizards in Mexico, France and Madagascar.

The weather in these regions, including Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, has become too hot for many lizards to handle, said Donald Miles, an OU evolutionary biologist.

Stressed by the heat, the lizards spend too much time seeking shelter instead of food. The heat also might affect their ability to reproduce, Miles said.

"What's surprising is how rapidly this can occur," Miles said. "In France, we've seen the decline of common lizard populations in the span of a decade."

The study puts lizards, including some in Ohio, on a growing list of animals and plants threatened by climate change. Biologists warn that each species plays a role, and that losing even one animal or plant carries unknown consequences.

Federal officials declared polar bears "threatened" in May 2008 because of the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice. Rising mountain temperatures also have made whitebark pines vulnerable to parasite beetles, which might wipe out the tree species, said Andrew Wetzler, director of wildlife programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"As the world warms and the temperature rises, many animals' habitat essentially shrinks," Wetzler said. "It also means that other animals are showing up in places where they've never been before, and that can be particularly alarming."

UC-Santa Cruz biologist Barry Sinervo developed a model that ties lizard die-offs to rising temperatures and predicts where extinctions are most likely to occur.

The study is based in part on a new survey of 48 species of spiny lizards at 200 sites in Mexico that other researchers studied and reported on from 1975 to 1995. Sinervo and Miles found that 12 percent of the species at those sites had gone extinct.

The team reports that 6 percent of lizard species will disappear by 2050 and, if nothing is done, 20 percent will die out by 2080.

Their research, published today in the journal Science, accurately predicted vanishing populations of lizards recorded by biologists in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Australia.

"It is truly global and includes all the families of lizards," Sinervo wrote in an e-mail. "It is bad no matter where you look."

Miles said global warming could kill off the eastern fence lizard, Sceloporus undulatus, a 5-inch reptile found in southern Ohio forests. Timber rattlesnakes and northern copperhead snakes also could disappear.

Though people may not shed a tear over the loss of a lizard or venomous snake, each species is an integral part of Ohio's wildlife and ecology, said Peter Niewiarowski, a University of Akron evolutionary biologist.

Fence lizards, for example, prey on insects such as beetles, flies, grasshoppers and moths, many of which are considered pests. Snakes feed on mice and other rodents.

Lizards and snakes often are food for eagles, hawks and other predators. Their loss could create consequences that are impossible to predict, Niewiarowski said.

"You can't be concerned about lizards in isolation from other animals," he said. "They are critical to the overall functioning of the food web."

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