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Season 1, Episode 3

Historical Fiction, First Loves and Political Canvassing

January 28, 2021

Historical fiction and politics meet in this episode of the Planet Book Podcast with guests Charity and Lindsey. Book recommendations for young adult and middle grade readers.

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Emily 0:00 Welcome to the Planet Book Podcast. I'm your host Emily Alexander. I'm a youth services assistant with the Springfield Greene County Library District. Join me each episode as we welcome guests to talk about their favorite ya and middle grade books. Thank you for joining me on this podcasting adventure.


Emily 0:16 For this episode, I am joined by Charity Jordan Rex,the youth services associate at the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch library. Thanks for joining us Charity.

Charity 0:24 Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Emily 0:26 We are glad that you're here as well. Also joining us today is Lindsey Bangert. She is the collection services Librarian for youth materials. Hello, Lindsay.

Lindsey 0:34 Hi Emily! Thanks for having me today.

Emily 0:36 Thank you for being here. So we are going to get started like we always do with our middle grade choice. So Miss Charity, what have you brought to share with us today?

Middle Grade Book Recommendation

Charity 0:43 So I am going to share a book that I read a couple years ago but that I absolutely loved and it feels timely and it's Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson.

Emily 0:53 I love this book.

Charity 0:56 So I will just say right off the top that this is going to be a hard story. But there are kids out there who sometimes like those kind of gut wrenching hard stories. And so this is for those guys. It's historical fiction. It actually came out in 2017. And there's a sequel to it that came out in 2018 called Sky Full of Stars. But it is a story that is set in the deep south in Mississippi, in 1955. And the main character is Rose Lee Carter and she is a 14 year old girl, and she lives with her grandparents on a plantation in Mississippi and she works in the fields and she has a hard life. Her parents were never married. Mom marries someone and then leaves Rose and her brother, and mom just goes off to Chicago with this guy that she's married. And she doesn't get along real well with her grandparents and her cousin who lives with them. So life is hard for a young black girl in Mississippi in the mid 1950s. The author Linda Jackson, she also folds into this story, the real life story of Emmett Till. And I won't go into that too deeply. But he was a young black man, I think he was 14 years old, and he was killed in Mississippi during 1955. So that real life story is folded into this story about Rose Lee Carter in this book. And in the story, she even mentioned, I think, meeting him and she knew some people that he knew. And so, once this event happens, and the book, Rose Lee Carter is really motivated to do what she can to help her people in Mississippi. And so it's really kind of the story of how she rises above all of the hard things that she goes through and she goes through a lot of hard things. But she always somehow manages to keep some hope and believe in a better life for herself. And then she's kind of torn between does she stay and help her people because they're starting to do voter registration drives, which was, at the time, a really dangerous thing for black people to do. But she left so she wants to stay and be a part of that movement, but she also wants to leave Mississippi and have a better life for herself. And so it's kind of about her struggle with finding her place between those two those two areas, those two causes, but she keeps her hope she rises above her, her situation. What I really liked about this book, though, is that this character Rose Lee Carter, is one of the strongest female characters that I have ever seen in a middle grade novel. Um, despite everything that she goes through, you know, the author inject some humor into this and she's not she's not angsty, she's not wishy washy. She is very confident. She is resilient. She's brave, she's courageous. It's just, so for readers looking for a book with a really strong female character this is, in my opinion, one of the best ones. So I'd recommend this book for older middle schoolers, and people who like historical fiction.

Middle Grade Read-alikes

Charity 4:27 Anyone who's read Christopher Paul Curtis, who did, for example, Watsons go to Birmingham or Jacqueline Woodson, who did Brown Girl Dreaming this book is, it would be a read-alike to those books as well. And I just want to say that even though this story is a hard story, it takes place during a difficult time in our history. I know there are going to be readers and families who might want to shy away from these types of stories. I'm going to encourage you to push past that because there is a great story being told here and great stories are for anybody.

Emily 5:03 I think that's a great share. I love Christopher Paul Curtis, who you mentioned as a read-alike. I read his book, The Journey of Little Charlie a couple years ago.

Charity 5:14 I did too.

Emily 5:14 Once you get past the dialect, and you can get into it. I thought that one was such an interesting perspective that I hadn't seen before maybe.

Charity 5:25 Well this is right in line. It was all of those, those great historical fiction titles. I have not read the sequel to this one yet. But if it's, if it's half as good as this one was, I mean, that's gonna be worth reading too.

Emily 5:39 Have you read Unbound? It was a Mark Twain nominee a couple years ago, I think.

Charity 5:44 Yes, yes, I did read that.

Emily 5:46 So do you think if, if readers who liked that book, would they also find...?

Charity 5:50 Oh, absolutely. Yes. I think Yeah.

Emily 5:53 I think so as well.

Charity 5:53 I would, I would pair that one was this one too. Yeah. You liked Unbound from a couple years ago, you would probably like this story as well.

Emily 6:00 I also thought of the Parker Inheritance when, I think because I read them around the same time. And the Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson, it goes back and forth between the past and then the present. And it has a lot of timely issues that the characters in the past are dealing with, but also the characters in the future and there was like a mystery to solve. I really like that one. Have you read that one?

Charity 6:21 Well, I'll have to add that one to my list.

Emily 6:23 It was pretty good.

Lindsey 6:24 I, I'm curious Charity, because normally historical fiction is a little on the slower side because they're painting all the details. Is, this sounds like she gets into some pretty intense situations, though. Is it like faster paced or?

Charity 6:37 Oh, that's a good, good question. I would, yeah, she does get into some, some intense situations, there's a good bit of action. So what this is, I would say this is fast paced. So if you're afraid that it's going to be slow, you don't have to worry about that with this. It moves right along and it's a real page turner.

Emily 6:57 Charity thank you so much for sharing that book. It is one of my favorites and I am so glad that you mentioned it here. I hope that lots of people go out and get it. We do have it available at the library for you to borrow. So I hope that our listeners jump on that one. Thank you so much.

Charity 7:10 Thank you.

Emily 7:11 And so now that we are done with our middle grade book, we're going to move on to Lindsay with our YA choice. Lindsay, what young adult book are you sharing with us today?

Young Adult Book Recommendation

Lindsey 7:18 So I want to talk about Yes, No, Maybe So, which is a romantic comedy by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed, and it's about two 17 year olds whose mothers volunteer them to work together canvassing for a local political campaign. And as they get to know each other and spend time campaigning, they both find out that they're becoming more invested in the outcome of the election, and that they're enjoying spending more and more time with each other. So the book has these adorable elements of romantic comedy as well as addressing some really serious issues. So some of the things they talked about in the book include like photos going viral on social media, and also Jamie is Jewish and Maya is Muslim, so they both face hate directed towards them because of their religion. And as a part of that the book looks at the way that memes and social media can be used to propagate discrimination. Maya has also chosen that she doesn't want to date and she faces a lot of pressure from all different people because of that choice, and altogether those things blend to make a really satisfying mix of romance and real world problems. That's both entertaining to read, but also leaves you feeling like you've read something pretty substantial.

Emily 8:34 So Lindsay, what books would you kind of suggest as read-alikes for this, so if someone likes this book, they might also like your book choice, what would you suggest?

Young Adult Read-alikes

Lindsey 8:42 So I would suggest other books by Becky Albertalli. She wrote the Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda series, which you may know from the movie Love, Simon. Also books by the teen author S.K. Ali, or Rainbow Rowell would be good sorts of read-alikes for people who like the sort of light hearted romantic comedies that also address some serious real world issues.

Emily 9:08 I really like the kind of like fluffiness of the romcoms. I think that sometimes can make people feel like reading a story is more accessible and going to be a little bit easier, especially now when everyone's got so much outside anxiety maybe.

Lindsey 9:24 That was, that was sort of why I chose this book to read. I was having a really, really stressful time and a hard time focusing on it, on much books, and I found that this one was a really good book for when I was stressed out about other things.

Emily 9:42 All right, those are some great suggestions. Thank you, Lindsey, so much for sharing all those with us. And for sharing Yes, No, Maybe So with us. I think it's a great choice for readers out there who might want something that is maybe a little light and fluffy with the rom com but then touches on some more serious issues. So thank you so much.

Lindsey 10:00 No problem.

Emily 10:00 And thank you to both of our guests Charity and Lindsay. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your books with me. You both shared awesome stories that I hope our listeners get to enjoy as well. Thank you so much.

Charity 10:12 Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed being here today.

Lindsey 10:15 Yeah, thanks so much. This was fun.


Emily 10:18 All right, and to our listeners. Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Planet Book Podcast. If you're looking for more book recommendations, check out our kids and teen pages at for booklists and other resources. If you would like a personalized reading recommendation, click on the Your Next Read banner on the library website and fill out our questionnaire. We will email or call you with a list of books based on your specific reading requests. Look for a new episode next week. And thank you for listening to the Planet Book Podcast.

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