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Welcome to the Two Lit Mamas Blog!

This is where you can find individual episodes, show notes, and transcripts, as well as recommended reading lists and other kid-lit related topics that support the Two Lit Mamas Podcast.

Please keep in mind that the book recommendations and commentary on the blog and podcast are solely the opinions of the hosts. Although Heather and Margie believe their opinions to be supreme, it’s perfectly fine to disagree. They’d love to hear from you as long as you’re not mean-spirited.

The mamas hope you enjoy reading and listening to kid-lit content as much as they love creating it! Thank you for visiting the Two Lit Mamas blog.

Featured post

Who Are The Two Lit Mamas?

Margie and Heather at Plymouth Rock

Heather and Margie are two moms who met in a graduate writing class at Butler University a million years ago. That was so long ago that Heather’s son was still free of facial hair and sans driver’s license and Margie’s oldest son was working on tying his shoes and her second son was still a bun in the oven. When a young classmate’s writing mocked the brilliance of Def Leppard and both Margie and Heather immediately came to the hair band’s defense, a spark emerged. Being the only two in the class who had actually danced to Def Leppard at their junior proms and who could commiserate on the horrors of little boys and toilet seats, the bond was quickly formed. However, when the two learned they shared an insane love of middle grade literature, their fate was sealed and they’ve been together ever since.

When Margie’s family was relocated to Boston two years ago for her husband’s job, the dynamic duo feared for their future. That’s when Heather had the brilliant idea to turn their coffee clatch book chats and wine-fueled writing symposiums into a pod cast. With three sons in three different age groups, the two cover a lot of ground in homework reading alone. Add to that Heather’s life teaching pre-school and Margie’s long history as a middle school teacher and these Def Leppard loving broads have a lot to talk about and they love sharing all of it – with you, the listeners.

Note, the recommendations and commentary on all books discussed are solely the opinions of the hosts. And though they believe their opinions to be supreme, it’s perfectly fine to disagree and they would love to hear from you as long as you’re not nasty.

Episode 26: Happy Pride Month!

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8710239-episode-26-happy-pride-year.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8710239&player=small

In this episode of Two Lit Mamas podcast, the Mamas join forces with Uncle Johnny to discuss the latest in LGBTQIA+ books for Middle Graders. They look at how far we’ve come and how far we have to go through the lens of two great novels about love, loss and growing up queer in America. 

Book Discussion:

One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock

The Whispers by Greg Howard

Pick 6: Grown Up Books We’re Reading Now (Yes, we read do read them)

  1. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
  2. Four Lost Cities by Annalee Newitz
  3. The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune
    1. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  4. The Sacred Band by James Romm
  5. When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister
  6. My Life with Women by Thomas E. Kennedy

Reference Links:

Trockadero Ballet

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Pose TV Show

Episode 25: Immigrant & Refugee MG Stories

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8627416-episode-25-refugee-immigrant-stories.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8627416&player=small

On their one year anniversary, the Mamas share their favorite heartwarming and hard hitting immigrant & refugee novels for Middle Graders. Since Margie’s life is one big immigrant story and Heather’s small, rural world was widened by international students who came for the holidays, the topic of immigration and refugees is close to their hearts. So, think globally but listen locally as the Mamas discuss ways to introduce kiddos to other cultures through books and much more!

Book Discussion
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf
Front Desk series by Kelly Yang
One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman
The Only Road & Crossroads by Alexandra Diaz

Pick 6: Tips for introducing kids to other cultures

  1. Try a new ethnic restaurant and randomly order off the menu
  2. Learn how to pronounce someone’s name correctly
  3. Goog It! Research a country you know nothing about
  4. Learn to say “hello” in other languages
  5. Celebrate a holiday from another country
  6. Order it on Amazon! Search for candy, drinks and snacks from other countries and try them
  7. Bonus: Visit an international market or grocery store

Episode 24: Middle Grade Preppers

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8546794-episode-24-middle-grade-preppers.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8546794&player=small

In Episode 24, the Mamas discuss two middle grade novels that take very different approaches to prepping from a kid’s perspective: one is apocalyptic and the other is fake news, but both are intensely entertaining and involve drinking toilet water. If you can hang with that, then grab your bug-out bag, dust off your survival skills, and join the Mamas in the bunker. Just don’t forget the Franzia. 

Book Discussion:

The World Ends in April by Stacy McAnulty

96 Miles by J.L. Eslpin

Pick 6: Summer Reading Recommendations 

1.     Historical Fiction: Gone to the Woods, Surviving a Lost Childhood by Gary Paulsen

2.     Mystery: The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

3.     Adventure: The Mutant Mushroom Takeover & Attack of the Killer Komodos by Summer Rachel Short 

4.     Realistic Fiction: Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

5.     Science Fiction: The Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia

6.     Humor: My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner

Show Reference Links:

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

twolitmamas.com

Episode 23: Fat Acceptance in Middle Grade Lit

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8462699-episode-23-fat-acceptance-in-middle-grade-lit.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8462699&player=small

According to recent reports, the pandemic has stirred up body image concerns in teens, leading to a rise in eating disorders, so for this episode The Mamas turn to Middle Grade fiction to help kids, parents and teachers tackle the topic in a positive way. Catch the wave of change that’s coming and leave body shaming far behind with this list of fat acceptance novels: 
All of Me by Chris Baron
Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Jelly by Jo Cotterill
Husky by Justin Sayre
Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
Dumplin by Julie Murphy

Pick 6: Happy Mamas’ Day! 
Here are 6 (and a few more)  books for mamas of unique and wonderful kiddos with links to the podcast episodes where the mamas discuss them in great (really too much) detail.
For mamas with kids on the spectrum: 
Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos
For mamas with savant or math genius kids:
Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
For mamas with bi-cultural kids: 
Marcus Bega Does Not Speak English by Pablo Cartaya
For mamas with kids who have gender or orientation questions:
Rick by Alex Gino
For divorced mamas: 
Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood & How to Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero 
For mamas with budding activists: 
The Leak by Kate Reed Petty and Andrea Bell
For mamas with adopted kids: 
Greenglass House by Kate Milford 

Reference Links:
Lisa Damour article about teen eating disorders in the pandemic
Untangled by Lisa Damour
Angry Chef Blog 
Piers Anthony Xanth Series books

www.twolitmamas.com

Episode 22: Happy Earth Day!

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8374772-episode-22-happy-earth-day.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8374772&player=small

The mamas have so much to share for Earth month, from middle grade environmental nonfiction and eco-fiction novels, to nature picture books, articles, contests, book festivals, PBS specials, and more. Whew! Now, put on your green jeans and let’s get started!

Book Discussion:

How to Change Everything by Naomi Klein and Rebecca Stepoff

Girl Warriors, How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth by Rachel Sarah

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

The Last Wild by Piers Torday

Pick Six: Nature Picture Books

  1. A Leaf Can Be… by Laurie Purdie Salas and Violeta Dabija
  2. Water Can Be… by Laurie Purdie Salas and Violeta Dabija
  3. In a Garden by Tim McCanna and Aimee Sicuro
  4. One Tomato by Rebecca Mullin and Anna Mullin
  5. Outside In by Deborah Underwood and Cindy Derby
  6. Tiny, Perfect Things by M.H. Clark and Madeline Kloepper

Show Links:

Color-Cut-Create contest for kids

Ohioana Book Festival

Teen Vogue article by Isabella Fallahi

New Yorker article about Mom’s Battling Climate Change

Greta Thunburg PBS Special

Episode 21: Water Warriors in Kidlit

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8285428-episode-21-water-warriors-in-kidlit.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8285428&player=small

In honor of Earth Day, the Mamas do a deep dive (insert eye roll here) into the importance of clean water. Using her love language, Margie breaks down water treatment issues into dorky layman’s terms, as the Mamas discuss their first nonfiction and graphic novel middle grade reads. If the mamas haven’t hooked you with the lighthearted topic of water pollution, you might want to give this episode a pass because even the Pick 6 is more of the same. But, if you’re up for an important cause, take the water protection oath and join the Mamas in this episode on water warriors. 

Books:

Poisoned Water by Candy J. Cooper and Marc Aronson

The Leak by Kate Reed Petty and Andrea Bell

Pick 6:
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Flush by Carl Hiaassen
Rising Water by Marc Aronson
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade
The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson
Little Turtle & the Changing Sea by Becky Davies and Jennie Poh

Reference Links:
Margie’s Love Language Blog Post
Nova’s Flint Documentary
Frontline Flint Documentary
Dry by Neil Shusterman

TwoLitMamas.com

Episode 20: Middle Grade Spies

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8199232-episode-20-middle-grade-spies.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8199232&player=small

For Episode 20, the Mamas pry-bar themselves into black Spandex to get their spy game on. Yes, that IS your shoe phone ringing. Answer it and join the Mamas on a not-so-secret mission to hack into the latest middle grade books with kid spies. From chubby spy geniuses to petticoated, steampunk femme fatales, the Mamas chase the MacGuffin to bring you the best in MG-Lit. Spread the word before this podcast self-destructs. 

City Spies by James Ponti

The Double Cross by Jackson Pearce

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Pick 6:

  1. Top Secret – A handbook of codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing by Paul B Janeczko.
  2. The Real Spy’s Guide to Becoming a Spy  by Peter Earnest and Suzanne Harper
  3. How to Be an International Spy by Andy Briggs for Lonely Planet Kids
  4. CIA – Spy Kids  – Background on the CIA, history of missions and really cool online games to build spy power. 
  5. Spy Science: 40 Secret-Sleuthing, Code Cracking, Spy Catching Activities for Kids by Jim Weise
  6. Netflix – Spycraft

Show Links:

Gail Carriger’s FREE Educators Guide to the Finishing School Series

twolitmamas.com

Bonus Episode: What is Middle Grade Lit?

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8155914-bonus-episode-what-is-middle-grade-lit.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8155914&player=small

Happy Middle Grade March! In celebration of this very special month, the mamas threw together a BONUS episode on their fave topic – Middle Grade books. The Mamas break down the category for fellow mamas and papas who need help finding appropriate reading material for their middle schoolers. 

Resources for finding great middle grade books:
Read Brightly
Imagination Soup
From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors
Mr. Sharp
Reading Middle Grade
Two Lit Mamas Podcast

Ep 19 Divorce & Blended Families in Middle Grade Lit

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8112482-divorce-blended-families-in-middle-grade-lit.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8112482&player=small

In this episode, the Mamas tackle tough topics, including divorce, blended-up families, and sick kiddos with their middle grade, realistic fiction pics. Maybe not the best topics to cover during a pandemic but the mamas grip their calming stones and carry on through two important and wonderful reads written by diverse authors. Then the Mamas share six new releases they’re looking forward to reading this summer. 

Books discussed:

Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood 

(sequel out this summer: Forever This Summer)

How to Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero 

(second book out this summer: All You Knead is Love

Pick 6: New releases to check out this summer

  1. The Double Life of Danny Day by Mike Thayer
  2. The Last Windwitch by Jennifer Adam
  3. The Last Shadow Warrior by Sam Subity
  4. Weird Kid by Greg Van Ekkhout
  5. Ten Thousand Tries by Amy Makechnie
  6. Down to Earth by Betty Culley

American Myths in Middle Grade Books

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1160252/8019274-american-mythology-in-middle-grade-books.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8019274&player=small

The snowbound, quarantining mamas are starting to get a little stir crazy, obvi – the cry-laughing was a dead giveaway – but fortunately they found some great middle grade fantasy reads about American myths to distract them. Please join the mamas in beating off the winter blues, especially if you’re a Sasquatch or a ghost mastodon.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Evangeline of the Bayou by Jan Eldredge

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Lemons by Melissa Savage

Pick 6:

1. Expedition Unknown with Josh Gates

2. Atlas of Cursed Places

3. Radio Garden

4. Finding ‘Ohana

5. Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Bedknobs and Broomsticks