Episode 171 - Red, White, and Whole (ft. Rajani LaRocca)


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Rajani LaRocca believes that promoting diversity in children’s literature leads to empathy, and empathy makes the world a better place. She writes middle grade novels and picture books. Some of her books reflect her experiences as an immigrant, book nerd, and foodie; some explain medical topics to kids. And some are just ideas that pop into her head and won’t go away.

In this episode of the podcast Joe talks to author, and doctor Rajani LaRocca about 2 of her books "Red, White, and Whole" & "Much Ado About Baseball".

They discuss Rajani's background as an author, the reasons why she wrote each of the books, and the importance of representation in children's literature.


13-year-old Reha, the daughter of Indian immigrants, is torn between two worlds—one with her parents and her Indian community, and one with her friends and 1980s pop culture. But then her mother falls ill, and she is torn in a different way. This middle grade novel-in-verse is about America and India, heritage and fitting in, Hindu mythology and 80’s pop music, holding on and letting go.

Trish moves to the town of Comity, MA and finds herself on the same summer baseball team as her math competition rival, Ben. The two 12-year-olds have to set aside their dislike for each other in order to help their team win, but the team is terrible. When a booklet of math puzzles claiming to reveal the “ultimate answer” arrives, Trish and Ben start solving them, and the team’s luck seems to turn around…or is that because of the unusual snacks they’re getting from the new snack shop in town, the Salt Shaker? When excitement then leads to tragedy, can Trish and Ben find the answer to the ultimate puzzle, or will they strike out when it counts the most? This companion novel to Midsummer’s Mayhem combines math, baseball, food, and magic.

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This episode of the podcast is brought to you by Snuffy!

Snuffy is a clothing brand about empowering you to show your weird - unapologetically, with bravery and confidence. 10% of profit goes to LGBTQ+ organizations led by Trans* people of color. Shop online now at snuffy.co

This episode of the podcast is also brought to you by Empire Toys!

Nostalgia is something everyone loves and Empire Toys in Keller Texas is on nostalgia overload. With toys and action figures from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and today, Empire Toys is a one-stop-shop for a trip down memory lane and a chance to reclaim what was once yours (but likely sold at a garage sale) Check out Empire Toys on Facebook, Instagram, or at TheEmpireToys.com

The DTALKS Podcast has also been ranked #9 in the "Top 40 Detox Podcast You Must Follow in 2020" according to Feedspot.com for our work in the Cultural Detox space. Thank you so much to the Feedspot team!


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