Episode 46: "REAL" by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

Welcome to this week's dose of book recommendations, library love, and literary enthusiasm. Today’s guest on The Library Laura Podcast is Carol Cujec, co-author of a new middle grade book called Real. She wrote the book with Peyton Goddard, whose own life is the inspiration for Charity's story. Peyton is autistic, and for the first 22 years of her life had no reliable way to communicate. She now communicates with what’s called supportive typing, and one of the first sentences she ever typed was “I am intelligent.”  She went on to graduate from college as valedictorian. Peyton's memoir, the first book that Carol and Peyton co-authored, is called I Am Intelligent. The writing team has adapted Peyton's story for a middle-grade audience in their newest book, Real, which was published in February 2021. This is an amazing story of the power of love and the need for inclusion for all people. This is a book I won’t soon forget. I am excited to be able to share this conversation with Carol, as well as a few questions and answers with Peyton.

Books from today's episode (affiliate link) 
Visit Carol's website and Peyton's website for more information and educational resources. 

Follow Carol's social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Get a signed copy from Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, CA or buy Real from Bookshop.org.  

Visit the Library Laura Podcast WebsiteInstagramFacebook, or TwitterFollow @library.laura on Instagram. 

Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard, co-authors of Real. 

"Difference in our culture is equated to fear and pity, and it should equal love." ~ Peyton Goddard

Carol tries to remember these words of Peyton when she encounters someone whom she feels is different for whatever reason, and she explains that, "If we could all change our perspective in how we view people who are different from us, think of how much kinder and gentler the world would be." 

Q&A With Peyton Goddard

Laura wrote some questions for Peyton beforehand, which Peyton typed answers to, and Carol read aloud as part of the podcast episode. Here are Peyton's answers in their entirety. 

What is it like being the co-author on this book that’s inspired by your own experience? 

 Reflecting is feasibly both sad looking at wastes and dear journeying to healing. Wherever in memories I’m seen as valuable, I’m joy. Wherever in memories I’m depth lessed, I’m greedy to topple retortures of hurts. Yet the viewing of tear-filled wastes and poppy joys urges my peace. Sweet Carol I’m loudly think tips my each timed wastes revisited to feeling real I am, upping my healing by writing.



What would you say to someone wanting to learn more about inclusion and education for children with disabilities? 

 Wherever all are together truer wisdoms are greeted.  Betting on segregation ruptures our planet. Therefreed irregularities that fry our guts, awe our poppy persons, and try our sweetest pinings for peace.  Ethers of ease I’m trying to find.  It best is in sweetered supporting all.  Worriers worry how, but wise leaders*  ready us. Try please educators. Try please all of us.  Thesis is ones needing support are everyone.  


Do you have a favorite book? 

I loudly love looping many books. I sapping love resting option listening to cherished words of all dear poets and wisdom speakers. 

We all need friends! "We all benefit by being included," said Carol. Here's what Peyton has to say about that: 

Carol and Laura also  talked specifically about this letter from Peyton to her fellow students, and this video of Peyton presenting at a conference. 

 Carol also mentioned that the university where she teaches, CSUSM, is sponsoring these upcoming free webinars on inclusive education www.csusm.edu/soe/events/index.html

Carol Cujec, co-author of Real and this week's guest on The Library Laura Podcast

Books We talked about on Episode 46 

Jason Reynolds

Carol has enjoyed reading many of Jason Reynolds' books. She started with Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks which she really enjoyed. That's delightful because that's the same book I started with of Jason Reynolds' writings! 

She also recommends the Track series also by Jason Reynolds, starting with Ghost, for anyone who enjoys sports fiction, and especially for reluctant readers. Reynold's book Long Way Down just "blew me away," said Carol. This book is written in verse and talks about a boy whose brother was shot in a drive-by shooting. Carol said she didn't even know she liked novels in verse until she read this, but it was done very well. 

I just started listening Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning that was written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. The audiobook just won a 2021 Odyssey Award honor for having a great audiobook. 

Linda Sue Park

Carol has also been reading a lot of Linda Sue Park recently, and was currently reading Prairie Lotus. She has even heard her speak at SCBWI, or the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, events. Park is a great writer and gives great writing advice, such as her line about her "progress and impediment" approach to the challenges characters experience. 

Carol also recommends A Single Shard and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I put A Long Walk to Water on my (ever growing) to-read list, and I re-read a Single Shard recently and enjoyed it. 

Laura's Recommendations to Carol

Laura recommended two of her favorites to Carol...  The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart  and The Vanderbeekers series by Karina Yan Glaser. 

I also had to ask Carol if she'd read Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Turns out she has, but it wasn't until 3/4 of the way through drafting Real, and she had no idea this book existed up until a fried told her how much the books reminded her of each other. Carol read it and thought it was wonderful. While the stories are reminiscent, they are also very different and complement each other well. 

In my Goodreads review of Real, I mentioned that if you liked Wonder, you would like Real. Carol agrees with that assessment!  I also highly recommend El Deafo by CeCe Bell for an empathetic look at being or interacting with friends who are hard-of-hearing. It's funny and approachable in a graphic novel format. 

Carol gets Peyton a book or books for her birthday every year (December 26th, which as Peyton says "respectfully follows the birth of Christ") and this year she got *drumroll please* Jason Reynolds! She  has also received the Wizard of Oz series, and other wonderful middle grade books throughout the years. 

Carol and Peyton's second book, Real is a middle-grade adaptation of Peyton's story. Their goal is to spread the message of kindness, love and inclusion for all people. They believe children are the key to turning the tide when it comes to education and inclusion for people with disabilities. 

With lots of literary love from my library to yours, have a wonderful day! ~ Library Laura


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Library Laura
Laura is an avid reader who is happiest when surrounded by books, tea, blankets and/or friends. Host of the Library Laura Podcast.


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