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Season 2, Episode 7

Girl Power and Big Adventures

May 20, 2021

Charity is joined by Amanda and Breea who share stories featuring strong female characters starting new chapters in their lives and having adventures along the way. Book Recommendations for Tween and Teen Readers.

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Charity 0:01 Welcome to the Planet Book Podcast. I'm your host, Charity, a youth services associate with the Springfield- Greene County Library District. On each episode, you'll hear guests talking about their favorite tween and teen books. Thanks for joining me today. On this episode, I'm joined by Breea, a youth services assistant with the Springfield-Greene County Library District and Amanda, also a youth services assistant with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. Thanks for being with me today.

Breea 0:29 Thanks for having us.

Amanda 0:30 Thanks for having us.

Charity 0:31 I'm excited to chat books with both of you. And Amanda, you've read a book that I've read recently. So I'm interested to hear your thoughts on it. Breea, you're going to be talking about a favorite, YA title that you've recently read. So let's get right into it. Amanda, what's the book that you brought for us today?

Amanda 0:49 So the book I'm talking about today is Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. It's a free verse middle grade novel. It starts in Syria, it's a Syrian 12 year old girl. And she lives in a coastal town in Syria, and is, you know, going through all the things that 12 year old girls go through, but also there's a war, some resistance rising up in her country and other parts. And so that's encroaching in on her town, her brother wants to join the resistance. And it ends up that her and her mom who is pregnant, have to go to America to escape some of the uprising that's happening and get into a safer place. So they get to America, and then she has to face again, all the things that middle schoolers have to face anyway, with the added like, layers of not being completely fluent in English and then dealing with some of the stereotypes from all different people about her and her religion, and where she's from. And so she is obsessed with American movies. That's one of her very favorite things. Her and her best friend in Syria, like, quote, movies all the time, act them out. And her brother, who she says is her absolute favorite person, before he kind of grew up and became too cool to do it they would sing American songs and act out American movies all the time. And so she has kind of that view of America, that's kind of what she knows. And so when she comes over, she's kind of faced with, like, the differences that she's seeing there. And she wants to be an actress because of her inspiration from the romcoms that she watched. And she decides to audition for their school play, which is Beauty and the Beast. And so the book kind of climaxes into her, again, dealing with people's reactions to her auditioning in the play, and being in the play. And yeah, so I really enjoyed it. I listened to the audiobook, which I felt really lended a good voice to her character, her name is Jude. And it was just, it was definitely like a perspective opening book for me.

Charity 3:32 I did the audio on it too and I would agree with that. And especially the stories that are set in other countries or dealing with other cultures, there are so many wonderful words from her language and the names that if you're reading it, you probably wouldn't have any idea how to pronounce and so you're getting to hear them and it's just really beautiful. I also liked the way the author kind of does talk about her immigrant experience and living life in this other country and coming here, but then she also has all of the totally relatable, like, school stuff that all of us have been through. And I thought it was really relatable. I know some readers probably, sometimes, shy away from these stories set in other countries because they think they're not going to be able to understand them, but I thought because so much of this is really about her life in America and and still dealing with all the same school stuff and crushes and trying to fit in, I think kids would easily understand this and relate to it. What do you, what are your thoughts on that?

Amanda 4:39 I completely agree. I really loved that angle of the book like you know, broadening kids perspectives on the immigrant experience and what that's like but framing it in a way, giving them entry points into understanding from their perspective like you said crushes or finding that group of friends that like are your people. You know, and being nervous about auditioning for the play, like those are all very relatable experiences no matter who you are. And so I really loved that match, you know that pairing of like, this is probably different than your experience, but then this is probably very similar to your experience.

Charity 5:17 Yeah, that was a good combination of things that she included in there. And then, I won't give it away, but there is that thing that happens for Jude in the story, where you just are, like, so excited for her and you're cheering for her. And so I really enjoyed that moment too. What kind of readers do you think would enjoy this story?

Amanda 5:38 I think any readers that enjoy, like, contemporary, middle grade fiction like this is right up my alley. And I love like when you have the strong female heroine who, you know, coming of age stories, like I love those. So I think that would be the kind of reader that would love this story. And like I said, I really enjoyed the audiobook, since it is written in free verse, I really felt like I got more out of it reading or listening to it just because, you know, the narrator was able to read it exactly how the author wanted it. So, but I know reading it would have been a great experience.

Charity 6:12 Yeah, I think any kid who's ever felt like, had that struggle of trying to fit in, I think they're going to appreciate this story and relate to Jude a lot. Amanda, thanks for sharing that one. That was a really good choice.

Amanda 6:28 Yeah, absolutely.

Charity 6:29 All right, moving on to YA. Breea has brought another one to share. Breea, tell us all about the one you've brought today.

Breea 6:37 Absolutely. So today I'm going to talk about Fable by Adrienne Young. Fable is a young adult fantasy novel about a 17 year old protagonist named Fable--suiting, right--who was abandoned on an island of thieves by her father when she was a kid. So throughout her years on this island, she's been making money by dredging for gems and the sea and selling and trading them for coin. And it's her, her goal is to raise enough coin to travel across the sea and to find her estranged father, and just confront him about what happened all those years ago. That led to his decision to abandon her. But her journey starts off sooner than she really expected, because she's forced to flee this island after she gets into a little tussle with one of the thieves on the island. And so she finds sanctuary on this boat called the Marigold. And it's a boat that's led by a young man named West and his very small crew, like an unusually small crew. I think there's like four or five others. And though Fable is pretty excited, like I mean, she's nervous, but she's really excited to actually cross the sea and find her father and confront him. But she realizes that this isn't actually going to be as smooth sailing--ha, smooth sailing, boat, pun. While she's aboard the Marigold because the crew doesn't trust her. They don't trust her at all. I mean, she comes from an island of thieves so I guess they've got reason here. And second off, she doesn't trust them because they're hiding something. They're hiding something on the ship. They're all being very sketchy. And she wants to learn about what's actually going on in this trade ship that she's not aware of. And the reason why she is so suspicious of the ship is because she thinks it actually does have something to do with her father.

Charity 8:41 Lots of intrigue, it sounds like and drama there. Well, what kind of reader do you think would be interested in that story?

Breea 8:48 For me personally, I don't ever pick up the pirate books, or the pirate like or, or the ship books. Um, but that being said, with us being so snowed in and iced in when we're recording this, it was really nice to have a sea adventure to like, escape onto for a little bit. So this book, it's listed on Reese Witherspoon's favorites on her book club for a good reason. It's just this lovely seafaring tale that sounds dangerous, but it makes you want to go adventure yourself. The way that she explores the ocean and has you join Fable and hunting for these gems and this aquatic life. It's just so peaceful even though we're in the midst of this chaotic mystery with pirates and people that we don't trust and lands that are really scary. There's also this piece to it that's just so captivating and the book goes by so quickly. So if you're looking for like strong female protagonists, you're looking for a good mystery, and you're looking to just sail the seven seas, this book, it's gonna be for you.

Charity 10:11 That sounds awesome. I mean, who doesn't love a good pirate adventure story? And we all need a good escape. And as you were describing that one, it reminded me of an older middle grade title, the True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. So if there are younger readers out there, who maybe aren't ready for a teen book, they might try that one because that's also a strong female heroine who finds herself on a pirate ship. And she's the only girl and having to survive. And I think she gets charged with murder at some point. And she really has to, like survive and but it's a lot about that kind of seafaring life, which here in landlocked Missouri is, I think, really interesting to read about and get that experience.

Breea 10:58 Another thing that I love about this type of story, or specifically about Fable, is that we've got these characters that they've got really thick skin, they're really rough around the edges, they've been jaded. But it's not in a way that you dislike anybody. It's in a way that you want to know what baggage they're carrying, and what grievances they need to pay in order to get past this certain obstacle in their life and to be a more trusting person. It's just, it's awesome.

Charity 11:29 Yeah, that sounds really great. And, you know, you ended up both bringing books featuring these strong female characters who are going through kind of this big adventure in their life and traveling to new places, which is interesting. And those are both great titles. Ladies, thank you so much for sharing those titles with us today and for being here to talk about books with me.

Breea 11:50 Yeah, that was fun.

Amanda 11:51 Thank you. That was great. Love it.

Charity 11:52 Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Planet Book podcast. Check out the library's website at for these and other great book recommendations. And follow us on Facebook for the latest news and events. This has been a production of the Springfield-Greene County Library District. Thanks for listening.

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