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Season 3, Episode 2

Books with Impact

September 23, 2021

Charity and Breea discuss the kids books that influenced them the most as readers. Book recommendations for Middle Grade and YA readers.

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Charity 0:02 Welcome to the Planet Book podcast. I'm your host Charity, a youth services associate with the Springfield Greene County Library District. And 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 and on this season, we're trying something new. Breea Introduce yourself.

Breea 0:24 Hi, I'm Breea and I am Charity's newest co-host for Planet Book podcast. I actually work in youth services as well. I came back to youth services just recently, and so I'm really excited about that. And I'm excited to talk about some books this season.

Charity 0:42 So exciting. So today, Breea and I are going to be talking about the kids books that made like the biggest impact on us. So we each have a couple of books to share, and Breea do you want to share one of yours first?

Breea 1:00 Sure. A big collection of books that really made an impact on me growing up were the American Girl series, because that's where I developed like a love for historical fiction. When I was a kid, having an American Girl doll was all the rage. All the popular girls had them, you know. And when I was nine, I got a Molly doll. And Molly was a doll that was based around the World War II series of the American Girl collection. And then later on, I ended up getting Kirsten and she was, like, from the pioneer series. And of course, when you have those dolls that inspires you to go ahead and read about their backstory and, like, where they come from. And not only that, it inspired me to read about my friend's dolls and who they had and some of them had like, Addy, who's from the Civil War, or Felicity, who was from, I believe, the revolutionary era, Kit Kittredge, who was from the Great Depression. And so not only was I so excited to have these dolls, and be able to play with them with my friends, but I was learning so much about American history through this series. It just gave me a greater appreciation for not only American history, but also an appreciation for backstory. So you know, you can buy a toy, and it doesn't have a story attached to it and you're like, okay, but if you know that there's like a story, like, for certain product that makes it all the more exciting to, you know, purchase and play with and figure out more about them.

Charity 2:41 I think that is really so funny in a way, because it's not often that you hear people say, well, like this toy inspired me to read the books.

Breea 2:50 Right?

Charity 2:51 So that's awesome. So, like, did you read the whole series?

Breea 2:54 Oh, yeah. Can I tell you what happened in all of them now? Probably not. But I like read all of those. And I mean, I believe even Springfield-Greene County Library like they were also inspired by the American Girl series, because I remember when I was a kid going to events at the Library Center that were all based around like other big fans of the American Girls series and doing crafts and like meeting other kids like me that were very invested in these storylines.

Charity 3:25 Wow, I love that that inspired a love of historical fiction.

Breea 3:29 Absolutely.

Charity 3:31 You can credit the American Girl series for that. That's great.

Breea 3:35 Yeah.

Charity 3:36 Well, one of the ones I brought to talk about today, and I know people can't see us because you're listening to this podcast, but I'm old, Breea is young. I'm old. So the books I brought are old. And there was a book that I read as a kid, probably like, junior high age, called the Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger, who was a pretty big author back in like, I guess, the late 70s through the 80s. And she also has written some of the Amber Brown books, I think those are some of the more recent books that she's written. And this particular title, you can if you're a local listener, you can get this through Mobius. So you can still find this book, they republished it a few years ago. But this is just a really moody coming of age story for the main character, and she's just really having a hard time in life. Her parents' marriage is in trouble, they're probably going to get divorced. And she's just wondering, like what's going to happen, she doesn't get along with her older sister and crushes at school and being popular and mean teachers and just all those things that you experience when you're that age and they feel like such a big deal and like your world is just falling apart. And at the time I read that like I very much was in that same headspace with school and family and so I could totally relate. And it's called the pistachio prescription because her guilty treat is that she eats pistachios whenever she's like, that's her comfort food. And I love pistachios and I was like, oh my gosh. And so I just totally related to that character so much. And even though it does deal with kind of some big themes like her parents do get divorced and she's got asthma pretty bad. So like, she's got some medical issues that cause some challenges for her. She's just a really likable character and there are just a lot of funny things that the author throws in there too. And I re-read it recently, I still think it's a good story. So even though it's an older book, I think anybody reading this book today would still be able to relate to it and understand everything that she's going through. And I think that was kind of one of the first books that I also thought like, wow, this author is really speaking to my experience, like as a kid. And so I thought that was kind of neat. So the Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger, I highly recommend it.

Breea 5:56 I love that just little detail of, like, that built the entire title, like I love eating pistachios. That's what the author went with and that's the title.

Charity 6:07 That's the title. It's kind of a weird choice. Well, and it's the pistachios in the shell, which and they're red so it talks about her having red fingers, and they don't sell pistachios like that anymore in the shell. And if they do, they're not dyed red, but they used to be sold like that in the shell, they dyed the shells red for whatever reason.

Breea 6:26 I was about to say, why did they dye them red?

Charity 6:29 I don't know. But that was pretty common when I was a kid. That's how you could find pistachios in the store.

Breea 6:35 Now I've got to search it after this.

Charity 6:37 Yes, Google it.

Breea 6:39 To figure out why they dyed them .

Charity 6:40 That's a good question.

Breea 6:42 To make it look Christmassy.

Charity 6:43 Maybe, maybe because the shell's red and then you open it up and the nut's green. I have no idea. It was a fun detail, though.

Breea 6:50 Okay, my next book, and this one's a little bit--I wouldn't say it's obscure. But it's interesting, because I was thinking, because Charity, you said, hey, we're going to talk about books from our childhood that really inspired us to be better readers, to be better, you know, like, just be invested in the literary world. And this is a book I hadn't thought about in so long until you messaged me with that. And I was like, oh, yeah, this is definitely a book that has built a lot of my passion for just world building, too. And that's Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg.

Charity 7:25 I've heard of that one.

Breea 7:26 It's Tinkerbell's story. So it's based in Disney Pixie Hollow. And it's Tinkerbell and her, basically her pixie pals that she lives with. And it's interesting because the development of Pixie Hollow is so cool in this book. And so the world building is incredible. So you're learning about how not only where Tinkerbell lives, but like, the ability surrounding her because each pixie has like a different ability that they're born with. And they're born from the laughter of children. And like, if a laugh is cut off, sometimes a fairy doesn't develop fully. And so sometimes she won't have a full on ability, which is super interesting. And then just learning about all the little details of this world, like how they live and the different trees around the hollow, and how they have different customs. Like, it inspired me to go on and purchase the realm of Never Fairies, which kind of goes more into detail about that whole world because that's what I loved about it. It was just, it was just such good fantasy world building. And, you know, when I was in school, for creative writing, we always talked about like that iceberg effect, and how when you're storytelling, especially in a fantasy book, you know, you're giving your readers like the tip of the iceberg of information. Whereas, like, what the readers aren't seeing is all of that iceberg that is below the waters that have helped develop the story. And that's kind of how I felt about Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg because it's like, you're really getting that plot and you're getting that story but there's so much world left to explore that you know, the author has in their back pocket. And so that's why I had to purchase the companion which is like more of that exploration. And so this story, this series not only do I have this love for fairies, I collect like all these pixies. I feel like all the books I'm talking about I'm like 'and I bought the thing connected to this.' But I do have a lot of fairy figurines, and that was like one of my first fairy-ish items was the book itself. But it's developed my love for fantasy and my love for developing new places or reading about new places and then also just, I feel like I have this like wanderlust attitude that, you know, it didn't just stem from the book, of course. But I feel like this story definitely helped. And I was like, I want to know more. I want to be in this place, I want to explore this new area. So...

Charity 10:14 Wow, I love how you talked about that book impacting you, not just in the genre of fantasy, but also like you, you've got this fairy collection, like it's really made an impact in multiple ways on your life.

Breea 10:29 I mean, books in general have always made a huge impact on me, if I fall in love with these stories. Like I mean, they build my character. I feel like you know when you're insulting my favorite book, I'm like, 'I built my personality around that book can you back up?' Like all of these stories, they just mean a lot to me. And that's why I surround myself in the library now. I mean, because I love books.

Charity 10:55 Well, I have, you know, listening to you talk about the books that now foster your love of historical fiction and fantasy, and you still love those. And the next book that I'm going to talk about fostered my love of dystopian fiction. For those listening who may not know what that is, dystopian fiction are stories that are set in a world where kind of everything goes wrong, like they've got an evil government, people are being oppressed, like, there's something wrong with their entire society. And I love those books now. Like, that's my favorite, those are my favorite kinds of books to read. So that goes back to this book that I read as a kid that I got from my library as a kid. And it's called When the City Stopped by Joan Phipson. This is one that is also still out there. If you're local, get it through Mobius. But and it's set in Australia. And it's about some kids, a brother and his younger sister, and they're kind of latchkey kids, which isn't a thing anymore, but mom went to work, and they go to walk to school and kind of get themselves home. But one day, mom doesn't come home from work, and the power goes out, the water runs out, their neighbors are leaving, like they can see that people are leaving the city. They have a little bit of money, they go to the market, and there's no food in the market. And so they're kids just trying to figure out like what is happening. And it's like the city shuts down. Well, as you're reading it, like the whole city is on strike. So like everybody, the garbage workers, the people who work at the utility company, like all the bus drivers, like everything is shut down because everyone's gone on strike to protest a nuclear plant that they want to put in. And so it's pretty bad, people are looting and things. And so these kids don't know what happened to their mom, because mom never comes home during this. And so they're just walking around, I want to say they're near Sydney, Australia, which is like a huge city, but they're just navigating this town on their own, and trying to get to safety. And so as a kid, I was fascinated by that, that here are these kids in this big city. And, you know, everything that they know is like different and upside down and dad's out of town. They don't know where mom is. And they're just having to figure it out. And I think I just loved that as a kid that like they had, they were kind of like little adults, because like they're just walking through the city. They're grocery shopping and they're taking care of themselves. And you know, and they figure it out. But also fascinated by that idea of like, the whole city is just collapsed, like what is happening. And so that like to this day, I love those kind of dystopian stories where something has gone wrong in this society and people are having to figure that out. And I re-read this one before we came on here, and I still love it. I think it's still a great story. Those kids are very brave and strong. And they have lots of adventures and it has a good ending kind of. I would describe this, if there are older listeners on here, if you've read The Grapes of Wrath, this is like The Grapes of Wrath for kids, sort of.

Breea 14:02 That's interesting.

Charity 14:03 It's very interesting. But like both of these books, just like you, both of these books have impacted the way I read to this day. The Pistachio Prescription made me feel big things. And I still like to read those stories that make me just feel a lot of things, make me feel all the feelings. And you know, I love, you know, so like these books, I still love. I don't care how old they are, I will keep them forever. I love them so much.

Breea 14:29 I find it interesting that you're talking about how one of the things that really appealed to you as a kid is reading about these other kids that are having to do really adult things like take care of themselves and go grocery shopping and figure out how to live without an adult by their side because I found stories like that interesting too when I was a kid and I found myself like going back to like Boxcar Children, which is not a dystopian but kind of has that similar vibe as to these kids that are living in a boxcar. They're trying to survive on their own and how often like, when I'd play with my friends, we'd be like, 'let's play Boxcar Children.' We got to figure out what we can use in the wilderness to survive, like, we're gonna build, we're gonna make this fire with these two sticks that we just found out in the woods.

Charity 15:17 Yes, yes.

Breea 15:19 There's something appealing when you're a kid about, not necessarily wanting to be alone, because that's never the case. But there's something that's intriguing about would I be able to do that?

Charity 15:31 Yes, yes.

Breea 15:32 If I was in their position, would I be able to survive on my own like that?

Charity 15:38I still love those stories, the stories about people trying to survive, will they make it? Yeah, and I think a lot of kids probably have that fantasy too of, like, you know, if you were in control of your own life, and you can do whatever you want and that book kind of appealed to that. So I think these are still two great stories. I would recommend them to readers even today. And it sounds like you would recommend yours as well, too.

Breea 16:02 Oh yeah, absolutely.

Charity 16:04 Well, Breea, this has been awesome. It's been so much fun, and I can't wait for the next episode of Planet Book. And I hope all of you listening out there that you join us for the rest of season three. We've got lots more fun shows coming up for you. Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Planet Book podcast. Check out the library's website at the 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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