Category Archives: Show Notes

Episode 21: Water Warriors in Kidlit

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

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?

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

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

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 away 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

World Mythology Stories for Middle Grade

After grumbling about the weather like two old ladies, the mamas dive into Iberian, Bengali, Egyptian and Greek mythology stories for middle grade readers. The stories aren’t for fainthearted parents since most adults have disappeared at the beginning of the books. Fear not, the kids do rescue them, of course only after falling for crushes, exploring secret worlds, and becoming warriors. Connect with your inner goddess and will yourself to join the mamas on this mythic adventure.     

Charlie Hernandez & the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Trident by Ann Searle Horowitz  

Show Reference Links:

Jinn Netflix TV Show

www.twolitmamas.com

Episode 16: Winter Survival MG Books

Put on your parkas and two face masks. You’ll need them for warmth in this episode as the mamas chill with a couple of Middle Grade survival adventure books set in the dead of winter. In one book, our young hero lives in a frozen fjord just as life is about to go berserk, and in the second book, the hero, plucked from the fjord and relocated to the prairie, battles a blizzard. If you can handle the cold, hang on until the end for a chat about reading in the time of COVID. 

Icefall by Matthew Kirby

Blizzard on the Plains by Heather Kauffman-Peters

Pick 2:

A Middle School Teacher’s Creative Way of Framing the Pandemic for Children

How Reading Habits Have Changed During the COVID-19 Lockdown

Reference Links:

Minnie Freeman

Amanda Gorman

Joseph Campbell

Episode 15: Differently Abled Middle Grade Books & Homeschool Chat

The mamas launched the new year discussing two awesomely-abled middle grade characters – one’s a math savant, one’s autistic, both make exciting leads and reads. Then the mamas switched gears and got real about homeschool life. The mamas urge you to turn off the news for an hour, Irish up your coffee, and listen in!

Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

North Carolina 7th grader, Lucy, was struck by lightning when she was young and was diagnosed with acquired savant syndrome which made her a math genius. She’s been homeschooling since then and has advanced her education to college level. Lucy makes a deal with her grandmother, who’s worried about her social skills, that she will spend a year in middle school before moving on to college. Afterall, “if you can survive a bolt of lightning, you can survive middle school, right?”

Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

Twelve-year-old Nova is a non-verbal, autistic girl who has been bouncing through foster care with her older sister Bridget for about 7 years. Through everything, their shared love of space exploration has kept the sisters going. The upcoming launch of the Challenger sending the first teacher in space, who happens to be from their home state, is a driving force in Nova’s life. When the girls get separated, Nova counts down the days until she see’s Bridget again because her sister promised they would watch the Challenger Launch together – no matter what. But Nova finds some things are beyond anyone’s control.

Pick 6: Homeschool Resources

1. Class Dismissed movie

2. John Holt

3. Pat Farenga

4. Village Home Learning

5. Sir Ken Robinson

6. Sandra Dodd

Reference Links:

Challenger documentary

Psychology Today article

Episode 14: Middle Grade Books to Read at Christmas

Happy Holidays from Two Lit Mamas! In a farewell to 2020, the mamas snuggle in with festive stories that are perfect for reading aloud by the fire. The holidays may not be the same this year but don’t cancel Christmas like Margie did in 2008! Instead, the mamas encourage you to start a new tradition of sharing and gifting books. Choose from the mama’s Middle Grade recommendations that will make you laugh and give you a fright while bringing your family closer together.  

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

It’s almost Christmas and 12-year-old Milo is ready for a quiet winter break with his parents in the family’s inn, Greenglass House, which is normally guest free at that time of year. But as guest after guest begins to arrive out of nowhere, Milo realizes this Christmas break might be better spent trying to untangle the web of mystery surrounding Greenglass House and the unusual guests within. 

Christmas Dinner of Souls by Ross Montgomery

Eleven-year-old Lewis finds himself in a little jam after breaking a window but he’s hopeful that after completing his penance by serving Christmas Eve dinner at Soul’s College all will be fine. But the evening takes a creepy turn when the room fills with monsters and Lewis’ new hope is to make it out alive.

Top Elf by Caleb Zane Huett. 

Ollie and his BFF Celia are elves and they are very good at their jobs. But when Santa decides that the long-held method of family lineage determining who should be Santa, is unfair, everything changes. Suddenly Ollie and Celia, as well as every other elf or human in the land are now in competition to become the next Santa. 

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

Nikolas lives a hard-knock life in the woods of Finland, but he knows he’s loved and that gets him by until his father goes missing. Nikolas then travels to the North Pole to find him. Along the way, Nikolas meets a cast of characters including a cranky reindeer, a troublemaking troll, and a village of elves who have troubles of their own. Nikolas may be the only one who can fix things for them and himself. 

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Amelia has a special relationship with Father Christmas or so she thought. When her Christmas wish is ignored, she ends up in a workhouse where the adults are cruel, and the food is gruel. Soon Amelia stops believing in the magic of Christmas all together just when Father Christmas is counting on her to save the day. The two must save each other before magic can return to the world.   

Episode Links:

Young Hoosier Book Awards

Two Lit Mamas Blog

Episode 13: Holiday Gift Guide Part 2, Middle Grade

3-2-1 Shop! In this episode, the mamas share many – let’s face it, probably too many – gift recommendations. Concentrating on upper and lower middle grade books, these crazy, wined-up Santa’s helpers go to town on their faves. From series and standouts to interactive finds, the mamas have got your holiday book shopping covered.

The mamas faves from past episodes:

We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey

Stand Up, Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

The Creativity Project edited by Colby Sharp

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Fantasy Recs:

Glitch by Laura Martin

Tristan Strong Punches a Whole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Series Recs:

America’s Test Kitchen’s Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs, Complete Baking Book for Young Chef, Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Deep End by Jeff Kinney

Unicorn Rescue Society by Adam Gibwitz

New Release Recs:

Murder Most Puzzling by Stephanie Von Reistwitz

Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski

Middle Schools a Drag You Better Werk by Greg Howard

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins

Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer

Cut, Color, Create books by Merrill Rainey

Show Reference Links:

NaNoWriMo

Edge of Extinction Series by Laura Martin

Rowley Series by Jeff Kinney