Extended Audio Sample

Download The Water Babies Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Water Babies Audiobook, by Charles Kingsley
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,768 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Kingsley Narrator: Bernard Cribbins Publisher: AudioGO Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2012 ISBN:
Coming Soon! We're adding audiobooks daily and hope to make this one available for download very soon. Submit your vote below to let us know you really crave this title!
Vote this up! This audiobook has 0 votes

Bernard Cribbins reads Charles Kingsley's much-loved tale about a little chimney-sweep who is turned into a water baby. Tom the chimney-sweep has a hard life. He is beaten by his master, the cruel Mr Grimes, and forced to climb up dark flues where he bruises his knees and elbows and gets soot in his eyes. He is always hungry, for there is never enough to eat, and always dirty, as there is nowhere for him to wash. One day, he is so tired from sweeping flues that he comes down the wrong chimney and lands in the bedroom of a beautiful young girl, where he is mistaken for a thief and runs away. He falls asleep near a river - and when he wakes up, the fairies have transformed him into a water-baby. He loves his new life swimming in the stream and having adventures, but he has no one to play with. So he sets off on a journey to the sea, to find the other water babies.

Download and start listening now!

BK_BBCW_005655

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/17/2014

    " I really really tried to love this book as it has been on my 'to read' list for many years. I finally got round to reading it and loved the first few chapters however once Tom became a water baby the book, for me, took a turn for the worse and I found myself skipping numerous chapters just to get the gist of the story so that I could finish it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katy | 2/9/2014

    " With a very good editor, this could possibly make a decent novella. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim | 2/9/2014

    " Read this as a child and really liked it. Doubt if I would now but that is the whole point, and I think this is something a lot of the reviewers seem to be forgetting. This is a child's book and written for children alive in the same year as the Battle of Gettysburg, so of course his attitudes are going to be of his time. The book is satirical, particularly in its support for Darwinism and is critical of child labour. It has its good points and its bad points and is still a classic of childrens' literature of its time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 2/8/2014

    " Brilliantly written but heavy-handed Christian allegory. The writing is so fluid and perfect, the Victorian moralizing hardly matters - in many respects, this book stands in stark contrast to Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, which I personally found dull and static. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Richard | 2/6/2014

    " No wonder this has dropped off the classic kids books to read list. What an odd book. It starts well enough as we read about Tom's rough life as a chimney sweep at the hands of a cruel, drunken master;how he falls down the wrong chimney at the local mansion house; runs away from the expected punishment across the moors until he reaches a stream; then collapses exhausted into the water and is transformed into a 'water baby' by the fairies. Straightforward Victorian fantasy with a strong narrative. Once we're in the land of the water babies, though, the book becomes a hodge-podge of social commentary, laboured Swiftian satire, philosophical discourse re science and spirituality, revenge fantasy with a bit of proper fairy tale when Kingsley remembers that's what he's supposed to be writing. It is therefore by turns puzzling, frustrating, a bit dull and fascinating. And quite funny from time to time, too. I was especially drawn to a lengthy passage of Fortean diatribe in which Kingsley bemoans the narrow outlook of science, and the automatic rejection of anything the scientific establishment doesn't understand. Kingsley uses fairies as a means to explore a spiritual world apart from Christian orthodoxy, although they clearly point the way to C S Lewis's Aslan. As well as a decidedly peculiar read, The Water Babies is very dated with far too many references to Victorian mores and institutions to engage any child today. There's also the odd bit of casual racism ('Paddies' get mentioned more than once and a grey seal is described as looking 'just like a Negro'). I strongly suspected The Water Babies was more than the saccharine concoction the title and old illustrations suggest, but I didn't expect what I got. My curiosity is now satisfied and I'm glad I read it. But I'm not sure I'd recommend it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ray | 2/2/2014

    " The chapter with Professor P-whatever-but-has-no-vowels is the best and absolutely hilarious. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roxana | 1/25/2014

    " Not your average children's book. Easy to read, but sometimes a bit too moralist - it even ends with a "what have we learned from all this" chapter. One the other hand, it makes use of various historical, religious and scientific motifs, which I considered its strong point. Worth reading, but not the book to overwhelm you. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicole Walters | 1/23/2014

    " I read this when I was about thirteen. I thought it was very interesting and mystical then. After reading the reviews here, I think I will read it again as an adult. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Raisu | 1/16/2014

    " This probably deserves more stars for inventiveness and the delightfully Victorian figure of Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, but I hated, truly, utterly hated the cloying, cutesy, moralizing narrative voice. The xenophobia and racism didn't help either. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristel | 1/15/2014

    " A moral fable written in the 1800's. Written by a reverend. I appreciated some of his efforts at morality but didn't like the feminism of the God like characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Moonchyme | 1/13/2014

    " Lovely watercolor illustrations illuminate this aquatic fantasy.... but I have to give it 3 stars because at the time I was a bit too young to take in the story and follow along with the language style completely. If I find the chance to re-read it now I think I would appreciate it much much more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carlajo Webb | 1/12/2014

    " As sweet to me as tears are salty. And the taste stayed on my tongue as well as the lessons stayed in my mind. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Audrey Michel | 1/6/2014

    " This is about a child who turns into a water baby. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 12/7/2013

    " I LOVED this book when I was a kid; apparently it was written more for adults, though, and an adult I respect has very strong opinions against it ever being read by anyone again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 12/5/2013

    " Ok, I'm a dork, but a sucker for 18th century literature. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharkface | 10/15/2013

    " My mother read this book to me when i was only a tadpole! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Solar | 8/15/2013

    " This is one of my favourite books from my childhood (and it was old then) but the tale has many parallels to today and it made me feel happy. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Megan Cullen | 7/10/2013

    " I listened to this on my ipod while walking. I didn't expect to love it, so I guess that it wasn't a disappointment in that way. But maybe I hoped to find a little more there than I did. At least now I know what all the fuss was about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Esther Hong | 4/30/2013

    " I'll read it to my son. Good night. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew Hill | 3/29/2013

    " I just finished reading this to my daughter. It's a bit dense at times--Kingsley can get carried away with some pet subjects--but overall a wonderful story, and a fairy tale in the truest sense. It's a sort of "Pilgrim's Progress" for children. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate Dutson | 2/14/2013

    " Though the writing style is a little archaic, and regrettably gender-specific, it was nevertheless charming. Quite unlike the film in many respects (less singing and more moral journeys!) but enjoyable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marts (Thinker) | 12/23/2012

    " all about Tom's land life and then his after life as a water baby "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tash Hill | 9/17/2012

    " Nostalgic!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rosie Amber | 8/13/2012

    " This book is a classic. It is a fairy tale with a moral. A bit like eating cardboard at times. Full of remarks related to the political and social scene of the times, so was sometimes hard to follow. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Charles Kingsley

Charles Kingsley (1819–1875), born in Devonshire, England, was a clergyman, novelist, and poet who began writing when he was five years old. He was much involved in the social reform movements of his time. His best-known works are Westward Ho! and the children’s fantasy The Water Babies.