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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

Author Juliana Brandt Talks About Her New Book

Brandon Ayoung-Chee

Arts & Features Writer

[email protected]

Photo provided by Juliana Brandt
The author, Juliana Brandt, posing for a photo.

Juliana Brandt discussed her new book, “A Wilder Magic,” and her successful GoFundMe goal to put books into the hands of kids.

“I always loved reading children’s books. I always thought there was something magical and whimsy reading them. I am a kindergarten teacher and I think all kids deserve the chance to read,” Brandt said.

She said her GoFundMe project, Kids Need Books, helped the children of West Elementary in North Carolina to all obtain a copy of her book, “A Wilder Magic.”

“So I started GoFundMe thinking it would take, like, two months to raise money for the books. We actually reached the goal the other day. And that speaks for itself on the importance of the people who were inspired by the mission and, as well as, heartwarming to me to see so many people investing into this dream. It was the way of giving the book to everyone at West Elementary, my book, free of charge, and it was nice to see that,” Brandt said.

Her book, “A Wilder Magic,” follows the premise of a young girl in Appalachia with special abilities.

“So my book ‘A Wilder Magic’ takes place in Appalachia and it focuses on dam creation. It is a light-historical fantasy where the fantasy is of this town destined to flood, and this girl, Sybaline, our main character, refuses to move when the water starts flooding,” Brandt said.

Brandt used her hometown in North Carolina as inspiration for the book and her time spent there as she grew up.

“Very inspired by the people, very inspired by the teachers I had and very inspired by my students that I teach. When I was writing the book, it felt like I was there again,” Brandt said.

Brandt saw this as a way to give back to her community. She said her time spent within her hometown was the sole inspiration of her book. It never would come to be if she did not live there.

“The day I published the book I saw it as a way to give back to the community for helping me give so much to write this story. I never would have been able to write that particular story had I never lived there or met any of the people or heard their history from them. I feel like there was a lot to give to the community and this was my way of saying thank you,” Brandt said.

Brandt said she really wanted to explore the themes of fear and change. She said these are big fundamental parts to a child’s development and wanted to show that in her book.

“It is a thing that we, human beings, don’t like or want. We don’t want change, we want things to remain normal. And it’s easy to resist change, even if it’s inevitable. That’s why Sybaline resists change and she refuses to leave her home, even when it’s about to be flooded. And the situation she makes to prevent change is horrible, to say the least, all because of that one choice she makes. So the big theme and message I wanted to play in my book is to face your fear. Let go of the fear of change and walk on to the next point of your life,” the author said.

An already established author, Brandt published “The Wolf of Cape Den” in 2020, a story of a girl who must break a magical seal before a mystical wolf takes her sister away. She said her third book will be revealed and published in 2022.

“I made ‘The Wolf of Cape Den’ in 2020. And in this year, 2021, I have published ‘A Wilder Magic.’ My third book will publish in 2022 and I hope it will be great,” Brandt said.

Kim Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Education, said reading is a vital component for learning of all ages. She voiced approval of books being brought to other students.

“Literature and writing are vital areas of exploration for all people of all ages.  Reading literature and engaging in writing open up possibilities for expressing creative thoughts and exploring different themes and ideas.  Reading literature helps the reader understand cultures and times from the past as well as the future, and writing helps to ensure that these concepts are recorded and passed down.  Reading literature and engaging in writing foster higher level thinking skills and bring people to new understandings and ways of thinking,” Brown said.

Sol Eure, a 22-year-old child care worker, reads to his classroom daily. He said one of his biggest pleasures comes from being able to read to his students.

“I’ve always liked reading books to kids. My mom was a librarian, still is, but she always read to us late at night, even way past the age of being able to read a book before bedtime. So when I started child care, I always wanted to give the chance to read to kids. I wanted to be verbal and show the visual pictures on books to the kids, and there have always been so many fun reactions,” Eure said

Eure said when you read to kids, it will give the higher chance of the kids reading themselves. He said he wanted to give that encouragement.

“I feel like reading to kids gives them encouragement to read on their own time. It shows what kind of books they like to read and it gives them a learning experience from being able to read,” he said.

When asked if all kids should receive books free of charge, Eure found it astounding to think it should not be free.

“I would struggle to find a counter argument for that. Even in a world where everything is digital, reading books is an essential part of child cognitive development,” he said.

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