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Season 1, Episode 5

Masterminds and a Space Boy!

February 11, 2021

This episode of the Planet Book Podcast is all about mystery! Guests Gwyneth and Breea share a middle grade adventure trilogy with some shocking twists, and a futuristic graphic novel about outer space and a mysterious boy who might have been lost in...

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Emily 0:03 Welcome to the Planet Book Podcast. I'm Emily Alexander, a youth services assistant with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. Each episode we welcome two guests to talk about their favorite tween and teen reads. Thank you for joining me on this podcasting adventure.


Emily 0:17 For this episode, I'm joined by Gwyneth, a youth services assistant at the Library Center. Hello, Gwyneth.

Gwyneth 0:22 Hello, Emily. So nice to be here today.

Emily 0:24 Also joining us today is Breea Milburn,a Library/Youth Services Assistant at the Willard Branch Library. Thanks for joining us, Breea.

Breea 0:30 Thanks for having me.

Middle Grade Book Recommendation

Emily 0:32 Thank you both for joining me for this episode of the planet book podcast. We're going to jump right into our book talks. As always, we start with our middle grade suggestion. Gwyneth, what book have you brought to share with us today?

Gwyneth 0:41 So the book I have, it's actually part of a series. The first one is called Masterminds and it's by Gordon Korman. And then there's two additional books in it. Book Two is Criminal Destiny. And book three is called Payback. So what I liked about this book is it has about four or five main characters, and you hear their point of view of what's happening. So there's a lot of different characters for kids to relate to. It may not relate to every character, but I bet they'll relate to at least one of them. So I really enjoyed that fact. And there's a lot of adventure. And there's computer interest and art interest, and so many different things in it. And it's quite the adventure book. So it starts off in a little town called Serenity, New Mexic. It has a small population, less than 200 people, but it's just the perfect city. There. Everybody has a job, everybody has a home, everybody has food, and it's just perfect. But it is small. And some of the kids start noticing nobody ever comes to visit. And they never go anywhere else. Because this town is perfect. And then one kid travels a little too far from town and gets really sick. And they don't know why he got sick. So then some of the other kids are like, Well, why did he get sick? And they kind of start investigating their town and learn that maybe this Serenity is not so perfect, after all.

Emily 2:00 Ooh, that sounds very interesting. So what age range? Do you think that this book is for?

Gwyneth 2:05 Probably about 10, up to about sixth grade up to about 13 to 14, I think would find it very interesting and very fun.

Emily 2:13 Okay, and then what kind of reader do you think is it, like for somebody who's a reluctant reader or somebody who is...

Gwyneth 2:20 I think if they're a little reluctant, they might find interest in this because, like I said, there's so many different aspects that interest that they'll probably be something they enjoy. It's not as super challenging read, there's a lot of fast paced aspects to it. And there's activity and adventure and kind of a bit of a who done it and mystery aspects to it. But because it is a three part series, you can just read the first one, it's sort of a cliffhanger, but at the same time, you kind of have a small resolution. So if you don't want to have to read three books, it's okay. But then if you kind of want those series and be have books for a little bit, it's great for that aspect to get the full story of everything the children go through.

Emily 2:59 Is it really important to read them in order?

Gwyneth 3:01 Yes, yeah, that this is definitely a series to read in order. So you'd want to do Masterminds, then Criminal Destiny and then Payback.

Emily 3:09 Do you feel like it was a good resolution at the end? Like was it worth a three book commitment to read to get to the end?

Gwyneth 3:15 It was. I really think it was because it like I said, I got to the end on the first one, but it's kind of like, but then what? Like, so it does resolve but then you're kind of like, but then what? And so that book, book two or three really helped finish the children's adventure and figuring out all the secrets of the town.

Middle Grade Read-alikes:

Emily 3:37 Alright, so we would say that this is for readers who like action stories, readers who are in like fourth through sixth grade. It has a high appeal for maybe some reluctant readers who haven't tried something before. What kind of books would you recommend us kind of read-alikes for this book.

Gwyneth 3:56 Okay, so the couple that I found, one of them was called Horizon. Again, this is a three book series, but it's by different authors. So the first one is called Horizon by Scott Westerfeld. There's also one I found called Cogheart by Peter Bunzl. And then my other recommendation is Loot by Jude Watson. And so these are, again, are going to have some mystery aspects, some adventure aspects. Honestly, Gordon Korman in general, I would say for children enjoyed this book series. He has lots of other series that he does, and he's a very good author for the middle grade range. So if they do enjoy that, honestly, anything by Gordon Korman would be a recommendation too.

Emily 4:36 And I know Gordon Korman has a ton of books so he, if you like him, you have a ton to choose from. So all right, well, Gwyneth, thank you so much for sharing Masterminds with us. I'm really excited for this book. I love a good action adventure story. So thank you so much for sharing it.

Gwyneth 4:51 Thank you so much for having me today.

Young Adult Book Recommendation

Emily 4:53 And so now that we've done our middle grade book, we are going to move on to our ya choice, which is a Going to be shared with us by Breea today. Breea, what book do you have for us?

Breea 5:03 Hey, so today I chose to talk about the graphic novel series Space Boy. I'll only talk about Volume One, though, because I think there are about five or six volumes that have been released currently. And it's still ongoing. But yeah, that's all you need.

Emily 5:21 Volume seven just came out in July.

Breea 5:23 Did it really?

Emily 5:24 Yes. I'm on hold for it right now.

Breea 5:25 Oh my gosh! I have to get it now! This series is so quick to read through. Like, I love it so much. And I was really excited to talk about it. But I promise I'll only talk about Volume One. So I'm not giving away all the secrets today. But it's by Stephen McCranie. And book one, we are introduced to our protagonist Amy, who's living out in a space mining colony with her best friend, Gemma, her mom and dad, she's living the dream life until her dad loses his mining job. And so their family is forced to relocate to Earth. Now Earth not a short distance away. It's about 30 years to get from this space colony to Earth. So Amy and her family have to be put into, ah, I believe it's a suspended animation?

Emily 6:20 Cryostasis.

Breea 6:21 Yes, thank you. Like, I knew there was a bigger term. Basically, they don't age during that 30 year timespan. And so that presents a really interesting conflict when Amy arrives at Earth, because not only is she trying to fit in, um being a an Earthling, per se, and fit in with the customs and the people there. But she's also wondering if there's any way that she can still have a relationship with her friends back home who have aged on without her, and that there is a 30 year gap between them and her friends have now had their own kids and their own spouses, and their own jobs. And she's afraid to get in contact with them. Um, because they've lived this entirely different life without her, which presents a really interesting conflict. Now, I haven't mentioned anything about the space boy. And that's because he doesn't really play a huge part in volume one, but he really plays a huge part later on, but we are introduced to him. And his name is Oliver. And Amy describes him as a boy with no flavor. He has just a very bland, mysterious personality in her art class that she can't really figure out. But you know, he's going to be one of those like mysterious young adult protagonists that you're totally rooting for. But he's brooding and, and dark and you just want to know more about him. I think

Emily 7:58 One of the things I love so much about Space Boy is the concept that's kind of set up in the beginning with her moving like coming to earth. And then when her best friend Gemma tries to get in contact with her, Gemma is now 30 years older, and she has a kid that is just a few years younger than Amy really, and she is so afraid. So she has that all that she has to contend with, and moving to a whole new planet, and trying to figure out High School, which is already hard enough. And so it was just all of these things are packaged so well in this story. And the art. The art is amazing.

Breea 8:32 The art is so good, it's so captivating and what I always tell my friends, whenever you're in a book slump and you can't find a good book to read, always pick up a graphic novel because of the reasons that can be explored in Space Boy. You have such great illustrations, fun characters, and there's never a lack of depth to the story.

Emily 8:58 I always say I feel like if a reader has not tried a graphic novel before, Stephen McCranie's SpaceBoy is a great introductory graphic novel, because the storyline is very deep and the illustrations are very, I think approachable. So for somebody who maybe has some preconceived notions about what a comic book is, and not liking the art style. I feel like Stephen McCranie's is very accessible. Would you say that you feel the same?

Breea 9:27 Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And it's what I love about it is how much like the script has to go with the art and vice versa. Like I feel like it just adds a whole nother layer to the story, especially when it comes to technology. Um. Technology so often in sci-fi storylines can look like the ultimate evil because, especially in a young adult setting, the teenagers are relying so heavily on on it. But this is such an interesting depiction of how there are good sides of technology and bad sides of technology. And they're all explored through McCranie's story and those illustrations. It's really cool when they put on the their little tech goggles, I don't remember what they're called?

Emily 10:18 I don't remember what they're called either. But yeah, everyone wears like a pair of glasses that they can then like, kind of cast illusion so they can see the world as they want to see it. It's just so fascinating. And everyone wears them all the time!

Breea 10:30 So Interesting! And like I thought about when I first started reading, I was like, Oh, this is going to be a bad thing. You know, like, everyone's just looking at technology through glasses, because that's what we've been conditioned to think about when we think about technology. And it's not and the way that the illustrations depict it. Um, yeah, Amy's having to get used to this, because they definitely didn't have these specs on the mining colony out in deep space. But when she starts adjusting to it, it's like, she doesn't want to wear them all the time. But it's really fun to visit this alternate reality where people can like, have different hairdos or like have, ah, lions for pets, if they want. Like they can just, or they can just draw any kind of, I don't know, if any of their illustrations can be brought to life through these specs. And I think that's a really cool detail, that we really need those illustrations to see the effectfully.

Emily 11:28 We talked about maybe some people who haven't given graphic novel a try, this would be a great introduction, what other readers do you think would really enjoy the story?

Breea 11:36 I think, um, just the high school, um, through like 9th through 12th grade would really enjoy this. Because there is a span of students from 9th to 12th grade, that are all featured throughout the story. It's so funny, because when I have teens come into the library, they always are wanting me to give graphic novel recommendations. And this is what I always put on hold for them first, I'm like, just try it. It doesn't matter if they come in and they're freshmen. Or they're juniors, I'm like, just just try McCranie's Space Boy series, you're going to love it.

Emily 12:16 I also think there's nothing so far in the storyline, and I've read through volume six, that would make it inappropriate for kids who maybe you're a little younger looking for a graphic novel. So I think seventh and eighth graders could also if they're looking for something, because I know... seems like a lot of times our graphic novels are skewed either very young, or very old. And so this one really has a place like to serve all those middle aged readers that are you know, 7th, 8th, 9th 10th grade, and they can all find something that they would really like in it. I also think it's a it's a great sci-fi read it's a great, has a little bit of romance, but it's not if you're not a huge fan of romance stories, and it's not a huge storyline that's gonna make you hate the story, I don't think

Breea 13:02 No, No.

Young Adult Read-alikes

Emily 13:03 But yeah, I think it has a wide range, age range that it could appeal to you. So if somebody wants to give Space Boy a try what other read-alikes would you suggest for them?

Breea 13:15 I would definitely say the Bone Series by Jeff Smith is a great companion. That was one of the first series that I picked up when I was exploring graphic novels as a kid and it's another, it's more adventure based like your Lord of the Rings kind of storyline with funny characters that I don't really know how to describe them you'd have to look them up but Bone Jeff Smith there... that's a great series to dive into. Also, Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi would be a great one that I'd recommend.

Emily 13:52 One of the books that I often recommend for people who like Space Boy if they're really liking the, like, outerspace aspect of the story is the Illuminae Files series.

Breea 14:01 Oh, yeah.

Emily 14:02 It's a trilogy, it's written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. It is a book that it's an actual book. It's not a graphic novel, but it has a very heavy illustration theme throughout of it. So it's definitely a book that you, I have not listened to the audio, although someone told me the audio is really good. But it's a book I read on my iPad so that I could read the ebook version of it because there's something about reading all of the digital files that she's sending on a on like a piece of technology. It just felt very immersive to me. But it is definitely one that you need to see because they play with the words on the page and arrange them in interesting ways along with the graphic kind of element to it. That is really, it's just I had not read another story like that one.

Breea 14:49 It's very experimental.

Emily 14:51 It is.

Breea 14:51 I love it.

Emily 14:52 Yeah. And so there are three books in that series. It's a completed series, and Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff also are writing partners for another series that has just started I believe so. But if you like outerspace the Illuminate Files is another good, good recommendation for kids who like Space Boy, so all right. Well, Breea, thank you so much for sharing Space Boy with us.

Breea 15:14 Yeah of course.

Emily 15:14 It is an ongoing series. The last I saw there are two more that I haven't read yet. So volume seven, which just came out in July, the beginning part of July. And then there is a volume eight announced but I'm not sure if he has any more like if he's planning on wrapping it up, then.

Breea 15:29 I hope not. I want it to keep going.

Emily 15:32 Yeah,each volume he reveals more and more secrets. So thank you so much for sharing that one. I think readers would really really like it. So

Breea 15:40 I hope so. Cuz I love it.

Emily 15:42 Thanks to both of our guests for their awesome book talks. And thanks for being guests on the Planet Book Podcast.

Breea 15:47 Absolutely. Thanks so much.

Gwyneth 15:49 Thanks for having me.

Emily 15:52 And thank you to our listeners for joining us for another episode of the Planet Book Podcast. If you're looking for more book recommendations, check out the kids and teem pages at for book lists 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. Thanks for listening to the Planet Book Podcast.

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