#Audiobook Blog Tour: Toro by Andrew Avner

Toro is the story of a cow who wants to run like a bull in Pamplona.

Author: Andrew Avner

Narrators: Brad Raider, George Spielvogel, Malili Dib, Yolanda Corrales, Leila Cohen, Andrew Avner

Length: 2 hours and 57 minutes

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Released: Jun. 26, 2020

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Toro

A story that evokes beloved films such as Babe and Ratatouille.

Alicía Catalina Cortés is a fast and fiery Spanish cow who desperately wants to run with the bulls in Pamplona – but since she’s a cow, tradition forbids her to partake in the fiesta of San Fermín. Through her journey, Alicía learns that to be noble and brave, she must follow her dream and her heart, even if it means defying tradition.

Toro is set in the colorful backdrop of Pamplona, Spain during the fiesta of San Fermín and the running of the bulls, famed as one of the most exhilarating, dangerous, and spectacular events around the world.

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Andrew Avner graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television. After working in Manhattan with Academy Award-winning producer David Brown, Avner relocated to Los Angeles to develop his own original material. He’s currently writing and producing short films for The Walt Disney Company while penning his next novel.

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Narrator Bio

Brad Raider 

(Narrator)

Brad Raider is an actor, filmmaker, and meditation teacher living in Los Angeles. In addition to Toro, he’s voiced video games, cartoons, and industrials. His award-winning feature film, Kensho at the Bedfellow, is streaming free on Amazon Prime: https://amzn.to/345rhXD.

George Spielvogel

(Don Murciélago Cortés, Jesús de los Jabalíes, Montie, Junior, Slim, Santiago, The Veedor, The Ganadero, Gallito, Zurito, The President of the Bullring)

George Spielvogel, also known as MC Whack, has been performing for audiences since childhood. While still in his early teens, he starred in a touring children’s theatre group and went on to earn degrees from both the Meisner Studio and the Strasberg Institute at New York University. Spielvogel was the creative producer on the hit staged parody Point Break Live. He continues to produce independent content and work as a voice-over actor in Los Angeles.

Malili Dib

(Alicía Catalina Cortés)

Born in Puebla, Mexico, Malili Dib was discovered by producer Pedro Torres, who cast her in the popular television series Mujeres Asesinas. She soon went on to land a major recurring role in the Mexican version of Gossip Girl. After graduating with honors from the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City, Dib relocated to Los Angeles where she currently resides. Her film credits include Melancolía, co-starring Alessandra Rosaldo and Plutarco Haza, Your Iron Lady, co-starring Victoria del Rosal and Yul Bürkle, Valentina by up-and-coming director Jorge Xolalpa Jr., and The Restoration by award-winning Peruvian director Alonso Llosa.

Leila Cohen 

(Condesa Maria Del Toro, Doña Madonna de Doñana)

Leila Cohen left Brazil when she was eighteen and bounced around the globe before settling down in Los Angeles. She received a degree in Performance and Visual Arts from Brighton University and went on to train at Central School of Speech in Drama in London and Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City. Cohen recently completed a Film and Television Screenwriting Comprehensive at UCLA and co-founded a production company with her sister, aptly named Cohen Sisters Productions.

Yolanda Corrales

(Young Alicía, Waitress from the Basque country, Rosalita)

Yolanda Corrales is a Spanish actress based in Los Angeles. Her career began as a professional dancer in the Royal Conservatory of Madrid. Eventually, she traveled to Mexico to work on acclaimed television series such as Juana Inés, José José: El Príncipe de la Canción, and Luis Miguel: The Series. Corrales has also performed in theatre and film and has appeared in more than one hundred commercials around the world.

Andrew Avner

(Diego Del Toro, Don Julián Hernández, Billy Ray, Municipal Veterinarian, El Miguel)

Andrew Avner spent 20 years creating this tale of triumph and perseverance and it shows. This message was shrouded in Disney-esque fun, but the message still shown through: Don’t let anyone come dissuade you from pursuing your passions. That’s a wonderful message for children, particularly of the middle grade age, when societal pressures begin to dampen childhood dreams.

I want my children to hear more tales like Toro. We listened in the car while road tripping last weekend and they were entranced. This led to post-listening discussions about dreams and the future. My two may be a little younger than the target audience for the middle grade genre, but we adapted by listening together and discussing it as a family. It was wonderful to be able to partake in media collectively instead of everyone off in their own world with headphones.

The narration helped to keep their attention. This was my youngest’s first audiobook experience and she loved the sound effects. My eight-year-old called it “A movie inside your head”. So I guess they approve LOL.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Andrew Avner. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

ALICÍA CATALINA CORTÉS: A fast and fiery Spanish cow who desperately wants to run with the bulls in Pamplona to prove herself noble y bravo, which is noble and brave. Because she’s a cow, tradition and her overprotective father, Don Murciélago Cortés, forbid Alicía from the running of the bulls. She’s expected to marry a husband to produce champion sons like her father. But this year, Alicía’s determined to run. She’s a natural sprinter, born nimble with talent and passion, who never feels as joyous as when she breaks into a gallop. Although she’s a cow in full bloom, the shape of her horns and the gray of her coat resemble those of her father. Of course, she’s not as heavily built as Don Murciélago. Alicía has a smaller head and a longer neck. While she’s not as wide through the chest as him, she has no visible udder and, other than her striking beauty, shows no obvious sign of her cowhood.

DIEGO DEL TORO: A dashing Spanish bull with a glossy coat black as night who’s always dreamed of becoming a star of the Texas rodeo. Because he’s a toro bravo, which is a fighting bull, tradition and his overbearing mother, Condesa Maria Del Toro, force Diego to run with the bulls. Although he’s expected to race in the marathon and honor his family’s heritage, Diego’s willing to jeopardize the tradition to follow his passion. He ultimately becomes the instrument for Alicía to fulfill her dream—by allowing her to run in his place, disguised as him.

DON JULIÁN HERNÁNDEZ: A bully among bulls and last of the once-great ‘House of Hernández’ caste of champions. He’s a massive brown bull with a broad forehead, wide shoulders, fast eyes, puffed cheeks, and a thickset muscular neck. Don Julián is like the archetypal ‘Latin Lover,’ but to the nth degree. Alicía’s father has prearranged for her to marry Don Julián, who fancies himself a lover and a fighter. Determined to win Alicía’s heart, Don Julián plots to win the race in Pamplona at all costs and will stop at nothing to do so.

DON MURCIÉLAGO CORTÉS:  Alicía’s overprotective father—a gray Spanish bull who weighs six hundred kilograms. The scars around his neck and his hind leg limp pass largely unnoticed, for he carries himself like a mighty king with his horns held high. Don Murciélago once ran in Pamplona and won the marathon. While he expects his sons to follow in his footsteps, he forbids Alicía to run with the bulls. He feels that his only daughter must follow tradition and forces her into a prearranged marriage with our antagonist, Don Julián Hernández. Though, at first, he poses an obstacle to Alicía, by story’s end, Don Murciélago’s wisdom and love help Alicía triumph over adversity.

CONDESA MARIA DEL TORO: Diego’s overbearing mother who feel there’s no honor in the rodeo. She believes the honor lies in the running of the bulls like Diego’s great-grandfather, grandfather, and father—heroes forever immortalized. And the real honor is to win the marathon. When Diego refuses to follow tradition, the widowed Condesa Maria casts him out of the corral.

DOÑA MADONNA DE DOÑANA: A wildcat born to the Iberian Peninsula, Doña Madonna the lynx is Alicía’s closest companion. She has tawny fur with dark spots, long legs, black ear tufts that match the color of her tail tip, and beard-like facial whiskers called a ruff. Like Jiminy Cricket, Doña Madonna is a comic foil who serves as Alicía’s voice of reason.

JESÚS DE LOS JABALÍES: Descended from a long line of wild boars, Jesús the black-hoofed Iberian hog is Diego’s closest companion. He has small ears, a wrinkled forehead, hardly any hair, and skin almost as dark as Diego’s hide. Where Doña Madonna embodies compassion, moderation, morality, and selflessness, Jesús is the epitome of greed, gluttony, immorality, and selfishness. Though they’re almost always at odds, over the course of time, Jesús and Doña Madonna grow fond of one another.

THE COWBOYS: Billy Ray, Montie, Junior, and Slim are rough ‘n’ rowdy cowboys from Fort Worth, Texas who crash Pamplona for the ultimate adventure—to run with the bulls. These American tourists stick out like sore thumbs in the heart of the city, often provoking a comedy of errors, as they can’t speak a word of Spanish. Unbeknownst to them, Alicía leverages their presence to pursue her dream.

EL MIGUEL: El Miguel Roberto Del Rey De Sevilla, affectionately known as El Miguel, is the greatest matador of all-time and the final obstacle Alicía must overcome on her journey.

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