Tag Archives: diverse middle grade books

Episode 46: Diverse Fantasy Books for Middle Grade

The Mamas are split over their MG Fantasy Reads (for ages 8-12) but it’s not surprising since Heather loves flying horses and all things magical while Margie would rather read true crime stories unless a Sasquatch is involved. Find out where your loyalties lie by joining the debate. Plus, you can jump start your summer reading with six great new recommendations for all ages from the Mamas. 

Book Chat:

Solimar by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the World by Samira Ahmed


Pick 6: Summer Reads for All Ages

Margie’s Picks:

  1. Lower Middle Grade: The Orphans of St. Halibuts by Sophie Wills
  2. Teen/YA: Just Our Luck by Julia Watson
  3. Grown Ups: A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers

Heather’s Picks:

  1. Preschool: Roar! I’m a Dinosaur by Merrill Rainey
  2. Middle Grade: Northwind by Gary Paulsen
  3. Grown Ups: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Episode 43: Middle Grade Biographies

The Mamas celebrate Women’s History Month in Episode 43, by sharing new middle grade biographies about fierce women: one covers an early 1800s highflyer and the other a 1960s Sci-Fi writer. Both books include detailed info of the dramatic times that influenced the women’s childhoods, making them perfect options for use in the classroom. The Mamas also share their favorite women authors of grown-up books. Believe it or not, they read those too.   

Book Chat:

Lady Icarus: Baloonomania and the Brief Bold Life of Sophia Blanchard by Deborah Noyes

Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler by Ibi Zoboi

Pick 6: Women Authors of Grown-Up Books We Love

Jennifer Raff

Donna Barba Higuera

Ruta Sepetys

Alissa Nutting

Melissa Broder

Elif Shafak

Episode 42: Happy Middle Grade March

The Two Lit Mamas celebrate Middle Grade March with random selections from their TBR piles before they collapse and crush them. Margie went for funny superheroes, of course, while Heather dug into a survival story that was a little too real. Listen in as the Mamas gush over poetry (shocker, right?), get on their soap box in defense of graphic novels (not a shocker), and share their favorite female MCs from middle grade books in honor of Women’s History Month (totally on brand). 

Book Chat:

The Super Villain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace

Alone by Megan E. Freeman

Bat Pig Series: When Pigs Fly by Rob Harrell

Pick 6: Favorite Female MCs from MG books

  1. Margaret from Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Bloom
  2. Jesse Keyser from Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  3. Iris from Song for a Whale by Lynn Kelly
  4. Esperanza from Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
  5. Ada from the War that Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  6. Mimi Mackson from Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca

Episode 41: Celebrating Black Authors in Kidlit

In this episode, The Mamas celebrate Black Authors in Middle Grade Lit. (Really it’s more like worshipping, bordering on stalking, you know how they can get, but anyway…) The Mamas showcase some of their favorite writers across diverse genres including, fantasy, historical fiction, realistic fiction, poetry, and horror (oh, my!). Get ready to grow your TBR piles!

Book Chat:

The Girl in the Lake by India Hill Brown

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson

Root Magic by Eden Royce

Pick 6: More Fantastic Books

 1. Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes

2. Amari & the Great Game by BB Alston 
     (Amari and the Night Brothers reviewed here)

3. The Hill We Climb, Change Sings & Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

4. Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles

5. Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler by Ibi Zoboi

6. When the World Turned Upside Down by K. Ibura

Episode 38: Twisted Fairy Tales for Modern Middle Graders

For the first episode of the new year, the Mamas are kicking it at the back of the class, reading twisted fairy tales, passing notes about their latest obsessions (we’re looking at you Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum); while keeping their heads down and hoping to stay under the radar of Mrs. 2022’s evil glare. Come join the rebels in the back – this is your two-minute warning!

Book Chat: 

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani

Pick 6: Our 2022 Obsessions

  1. Trashy Reality TV
  2. Bigelow Green Tea with Elderberry
  3. Maker Spaces & Loose Parts Play
  4. Welcome to Earth with Will Smith on Disney+
  5. The World According to Jeff Goldblum on Disney+
  6. Prepping for High School graduation

Episode 34: Latinx Heritage in Middle Grade

In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, the Mamas are thrilled to share two Middle Grade books oozing with Mexican mythology and Día de los Muertos inspired adventures. So, gulp down some pan de muerto and grip your calavera while the Mamas make you cringe with fright (and hopefully not from their Spanish pronunciations). 

Book Chat:

Loteria by Karla Arenas Valenti

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera   

Pick 6: Latinx Children’s Books

  1. Board Books: La Catrina series
  2. Board Books: Life of series by Lil Libros
  3. Picture Book: Dreamer by Yuyi Morales
  4. Young Adult: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
  5. Middle Grade: The Sea-Ringed World by Maria Garcia EsperonCurse of the Forgotten City by Alex Aster
  6. Chapter Books: Definitely Dominguita series by Terry Catasus Jennings

Episode 27: Books with Middle Grade Cooks

Find out what’s cooking in Middle Grade lit as the Two Lit Mamas drool­–err–chat about the latest novels with kid bakers and chefs. If you aren’t hungry now, you will be by the time the Mamas finish dishing their foody opinions and kid-friendly recipes. Bon Appetit!

 Book Discussion: 

Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca

All You Knead is Love by Tania Guerrero

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan

When Life Gives You Lemons Make Peach Pie by Erin Soderberg Downing

Pick 6: Kid-Friendly Recipes

1.     Soft Pretzels

2.     Baked Alaska

3.     Fruit Sauce & Fruit Soup (Fruktsoppa)

4.     Stuffed Grape Leaves (Margie might die if we share this recipe)

5.     Homemade Pizza Dough

6.     Avocado Pasta

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

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