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Season 1, Episode 7

Family Read-Alouds and Family Feuds: A Study in Contrasts

February 25, 2021

This episode of the Planet Book Podcast features book recommendations that are totally opposite! Guests Charity and Adrienne recommend middle books that are great for sharing with the whole family as read-alouds, and teen titles that are all about...

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Emily 0:03 Hello, and welcome to the Planet Book Podcast. I'm your host Emily Alexander, a Youth Services Assistant with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. Thank you for joining in each episode as we welcome two guests to talk about their latest favorite middle grade and young adult books.


Emily 0:03 Today I'm joined by two guests that may be familiar to our listeners, Charity J. and Adrienne Poulson, both who have been guests on the Planet Book Podcast before and we are so excited to welcome them back. Charity, who's a Youth Services Associate with the Greene County Library District, will be talking about our middle grade book suggestion today. Hello, Charity.

Charity 0:34 Hey Emily! I'm happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Emily 0:37 And Adrienne, the Branch Manager of the Willard and Ash Grove branches who will be talking about our young adult book. Welcome back, Adrienne!

Adrienne 0:44 Thank you for having me back, Emily.

Middle Grade Book Recommendation

Emily 0:46 So we are going to jump right in with our book talks today. We start as always with our middle grade book recommendation. Charity, what book do you have for us today?

Charity 0:54 Well, I brought one of my current favorites. It's by Cynthia Rylant. And it's called Rosetown, all one word Rosetown. And I will say it is on the younger end of middle grade. But really, it's a good book for any age, really. And I picked it up because I like Cynthia Rylant. But I had wanted to read something that just felt kind of cozy and sweet. Because life is kind of heavy right now. And so I picked this book up, it's a quick read like it's not even 200 pages. It is just the sweetest, most precious book. Like, it's adorable. So it centers around these two kids. They're in elementary school Flora, and her best friend Yuri, and they live in Rosetown and their favorite store, Flora's mom works at this bookshop. The bookshop is called A Wing and a Chair.

Iggi 1:51 Ooh, that's a great bookstore name.

Charity 1:53 I know, right! And so it was called that cause it's got this big purple velvet chair that sits like right in the front window. And so after school everyday, they run over there, and they hang out in the bookshop. And it's got this really like eccentric bookshop owner. And she's really dramatic, and she travels to Paris, and she just lets them have the run of the place. And it's like, any kid who's a reader, just that alone, I think they're gonna love that part of it. Because who, if your child was a reader, like who wouldn't want to have the run of a bookstore. But anyway, oh, Flora, her parents are separated. And so that is part of the story, kind of how she's trying to deal with that. But it's really about her...her life as a young person, and her best friend, Yuri, and kind of the little adventures that they have in Rosetown. All of the shops in Rosetown have these cute little names. I mean, it just sounds like this really picturesque place. And it has a really sweet ending. And for those readers, and I know we have a lot of them that come in at my branch, who want something cozy, or we have a lot of parents who come in and they're wanting a good family read aloud. I think this ticks off both of those boxes. I mean, it is really cozy, the biggest drama is that her parents are separated. And it talks a little bit of her kind of traveling between both houses, and not really understanding, kind of struggling with that. But that's the biggest thing that happens. It is really a sweet, cozy story. It's one of those stories, they like, especially coming into fall, like I could see curling up with this in a nice spot with like a cup of hot cocoa or something and you just spend the weekend reading this book. It was just warm and delightful.

Emily 3:36 Well, so you said that it's maybe on the younger end of middle grades. Are you thinking like fourth, fifth grade, or?

Charity 3:44 I mean, yeah, like maybe the lower end of fourth grade, the high end of third grade. I mean, it's right on the cusp, but because it's so it's so well written, even though it is probably geared towards a slightly younger middle grade audience, Cynthia Rylant, she's just a really skilled writer and so it does feel a little bit older. And the language is really lovely. So I don't think an older kid reading this is going to feel like they're reading like a babyish book. It's not it doesn't feel that way at all. So I really I'd recommend this for anybody. Third grade and up. I mean, it's just very good.

Emily 4:21 You said that it was a good family read aloud and I have been really trying to talk to you know, my families about family read aloud too. Would you mind kind of explaining what a family read aloud is? What makes a good family read aloud? Not to put tons of pressure on you, like, explain it all to me Charity! (Both laughing) But, um, to kind of give us a little information about what a family read aloud is and what makes a good one.

Charity 4:43 Okay. Yes, in my opinion, a good family read aloud is something that I picture a family, maybe they've got some upper elementary kids, but maybe they have some, some primary age kids or maybe even like some kindergarteners. So it's gonna be a story that has a little something for everyone. So the older kids are going to be interested in the story and the characters, the younger kids are going to understand what's happening, but nothing to, nothing, scary, nothing that is going to like shock, shock those younger kids. Which is why cozy stories tend to work so well, because, you know, they usually there's no language, there's no violence, you know, so they're really good. I don't want to say wholesome, but kind of wholesome stories. So they're, they're family friendly, like, really, any age can listen to them. And when I recommend family read alouds, like, I'm not picking the 600 page books, usually, because when I talk to parents, usually they want a book that maybe they could finish over, the over several nights, like over the course of a week, maybe they're not going to have to invest a ton of time. So this book, also it meets that requirement, because it's not super long, because it is so family friendly, as far as the content and the language. And kind of the themes that they're dealing with it really, I think, younger kids, they're not going to be able to read this on their own. Your kindergartner is not gonna pick this book up and read it, but if you're reading it to them, but there's certainly going to understand and be able to relate to what's happening. But your older kids I think are going to really like the characters and they're going to be able to relate to some of the specific situations that Flora and Yuri get into. And they do get into some kind of interesting and hilarious snafus, if you will, like, you know, things do happen. So I feel's just the language that Cynthia Rylant uses, which I can picture as I was reading it, I can see like reading this aloud and it just some books just feel good to read aloud.

Emily 6:37 They do.

Charity 6:38 This does. So, something that's not too long, something that's family friendly for your youngers and, but also was content that works for your olders. And so that Rosetown is a good one for all of that.

Middle Grade Read-alikes

Emily 6:50 Do you have any books that you would suggest is kind of read-alikes for Rosetown?

Charity 6:55 So there are some authors, I would recommend some specific authors who whose style is very similar to this particular book. Sharon Creech is one of them. She won the Newberry for Walk Two Moons quite a few years ago. And she's written a bunch of others. She's got The Wanderer. Her books are like that. E.L. Konigsburg, she wrote the classic From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. She would be a good one. Polly Horvath, she has some older titles, and the library does have a few, that have this feel as well. They're cozy. They're a little bit whimsical. They are kind of good for a broad audience. So all of those authors are ones that I would recommend. If you read Rosetown and you like it, and you're looking for more likes that those are all good reader likes.

Emily 7:46 Ah, Sharon Creech might be familiar to some of our local listeners, because she was a Mark Twain, author a couple years ago for Moo. I think two years ago.

Charity 7:57 Yes!

Emily 7:58 So people might be familiar with her from that. But yeah, she has a lot of books. I know Cynthia Rylant also has quite a large collection of books that she has written.

Charity 8:06 Yes! She's a very prolific author. So if you like her, you have a lot of titles to choose from.

Emily 8:13 Well, thank you so much for sharing that with us Charity. I am so excited to read Rosetown because it sounds amazing. And who...

Adrienne 8:19 Me Too!

Emily 8:19 ...doesn't want a nice cozy read right now. So thank you so much.

Charity 8:23 Thank you.

Young Adult Recommendation

Emily 8:24 And so we're moving on to our next book, which I'm sure is also going to be just a warm and cozy full of fuzzies YA book. Adrienne, what have you brought for us today?

Adrienne 8:34 Well, it definitely is not cozy. (All laughing) And it's very good, but it's definitely not going to be a read aloud for families. So I'm talking about Book of Ivy and it is by Amy Engel. And, um, it is a duology, meaning there's only two books in the series. And it's an apocalyptic fiction. And it has world building with it. It's a quick read. So for those reluctant readers, uh, it is a fast read for you to do and kind of get your world building and your fantasy. So what it's about is about Ivy Westfall, and um, she is part of a family that lost a war between two families and for them, uh, for them to come together the girls of the family that lost, which is the Westfalls, have to marry the family, the boys from the family of the group that won and that's how they continue. And so but what it comes down to is the person that she is supposed to marry, and she does marry, she is supposed to assassinate him.

Emily 10:04 Oh!

Adrienne 10:05 And, but it does have a little bit of romance in it. It doesn't go into a lot of detail, but it does have some, some romance. So I definitely think, you know, 9th grade to 12th grade, probably because it does have some some steamy parts in it. But, um, but not too bad. And, and it, it leaves the first book, and definitely leaves on a cliffhanger. So you definitely want the second book as ready to go. Um, because that was the thing that happened to me. I just happened to pick this up, because it was a Gateway Nominee several years ago. And, and I picked it up and I read it, and it left you on a cliffhanger. And so I had to get the ebook copy of it, because that was the only thing that was available. And because I had to figure out what happened. Um, so it definitely is a good read a like if you liked Divergent or Hunger Games because it does kind of it has that feel. It's just cause it's just a little faster read. And I think it's well developed characters, you really start to really like the characters. And I think that's what makes you frustrated as a reader when it comes towards the end is because you like those characters. And sometimes something happens to those characters. And so, um, but it's, it's really enjoyable. It's really fun to read.

Emily 11:40 All right, so you said that there's quite a bit of world building in this book. So world building and well developed characters. Is there anything else that you think about the book, like, have you read anything else by this author or?

Adrienne 11:52 So I haven't read anything by this author, except for these two. But because she hadn't wrote anything in a while. Well, she recently has written a couple more things, so that I can read some more of her of her books, because I really like the style of her writing. So she actually is local. She's, um, she is located in Kansas City, Missouri.

Emily 12:17 Oh, nice!

Adrienne 12:18 And I did not realize that until today. Yeah. So I thought that that was pretty cool. And, you know, somebody that I'd like to meet, because I really enjoyed this, you get into a series and you realize that there's multiple books. This one's two books. So it's, you know, you're you kind of get that, that end feeling of finished with two books instead of eight.

Emily 12:43 All right, so you also mentioned that you think this book would be good for like reluctant readers, what other readers do you think would like this book?

Adrienne 12:50 I think anybody that, anyone that's interested in Sci-fi kind of Fantasy, because there's aspects of both in there. Um, so I definitely, if you're, I'm more, I tend to read more fantasy. And this one's kind of more of the Science Fiction/Fantasy kind of mixed together. Um, but so if you like, if you like that, also it, because I was saying that it doesn't go that well with what Charity's read is, is because it starts with a nuclear war in the United States. (All laughing)

Emily 13:37 Light and fluffy reading for our current times.

Adrienne 13:39 I know! So,

Charity 13:42 We've got all readers covered here!

Emily 13:45 Um, so you mentioned that there are some steamy moments because there is a bit of romance in here. And then you mentioned that her like, mission is to assassinate her new husband. Is there a lot of violence in this book?

Adrienne 13:58 Um, not in the first book. There is the second because the second is where the war happens.

Emily 14:05 Okay.

Adrienne 14:05 Between the two families.

Emily 14:07 Okay, so they go back to war?

Adrienne 14:09 They go back to war.

Emily 14:10 All right. So a little violent, a little steamy. So definitely for those older YA readers. 9th, 10th

Adrienne 14:17 definitely

Emily 14:18 11th, 12th grade. All right well, that book sounds amazing, too! I remember it from being on the Truman's a few years ago. But it is not one that I got to read. But I'm definitely intrigued now. So thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Adrienne 14:31 You're welcome.

Emily 14:32 Thank you once again to both of our guests for their awesome book talks. And thank you so much for coming back and being guest again on the Planet Book Podcast. I really, really enjoyed getting to talk with you both again.

Charity 14:41 Thank you so much.

Adrienne 14:43 Yes, thank you for having me.


Emily 14:46 If you are looking for more book recommendations check out the kids and teen pages at for book lists and other helpful resources. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, 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. Remember to tune in next time for more great middle grade and young adult reading suggestions and thanks for listening to the Planet Book Podcast.

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