Book Buzz Episode 6 – When Women Were Dragons & The Guncle

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Air date: July 16, 2023

Check Out The Books

When Women Were Dragons

The Guncle

Read the Transcript


Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the Assistant Director of Collection Services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz.

Today we’ll explore two books from different genres, both centered around unconventional families.

First, we’re going to hear from Lois, librarian at the Snohomish Library, who will take us to a 1950s America you might not recognize. Over to you, Lois.


If you’re one to question a woman’s place in the world, When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill is for you.

Sapphic, feminist magical realism with dragons, basically everything I’ve ever wanted in a book! This story takes place in a world like ours but with one significant difference: in 1955, thousands of ordinary women suddenly transformed into dragons and left their homes and families. We experience this tale through Alex, a young girl whose family is deeply affected by the dragoning and the disappearance of her aunt.

I love magical realism and this book blends magical realism with a side of mystery and a historical setting. It's also very character driven and brilliantly follows the main character’s coming-of-age journey as she learns more about dragons and her family.

This book weaves together themes of patriarchal society, cultural disparities, and sexual fluidity, shining a light on the struggles women have faced throughout history, while extending its relevance to people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.

The author uses fantastical dragons to deliver profound social commentary, but it's her realistic, flawed, and aspirational characters that resonate.

The storytelling style – a mix of narrative with government and scientific “reports” – makes “When Women Were Dragons” an amazing, empowering read.


Thanks, Lois. This feels very relevant to today, just minus dragons.

Next, Amanda, library associate with Library on Wheels shares a modern-day story of unexpected family. Take it away, Amanda.


Get ready to laugh and cry your way through The Guncle by Steven Rowley. This book is for anyone who would enjoy a heartwarming family story with a touch of silliness.

Meet Patrick, also known as GUP, Gay Uncle Patrick, an arrogant former sitcom star who reluctantly becomes responsible for his niece and nephew following the tragic death of his beloved sister-in-law.

I enjoyed this feel-good book that cleverly intertwined laugh out loud moments with uplifting, poignant reflections on grief. This book balances wit and charm while exploring the theme of death. With its humor, depth, and captivating characters, this story is one that will stay with you long after the final page.

The "Guncle Rules" Patrick imparts to the kids add a delightful touch to the narrative. The author portrays Patrick's endearing journey through a summer filled with love, difficulty, warmth, and growth. This extraordinary book captures the essence of family, love, and the various ways humans cope with grief.

"The Guncle" is a must-read that reminds us to celebrate the lives of those we have lost while finding the strength to move forward. Don't miss out on this exceptional literary gem that touches the heart and resonates with readers on multiple levels.


Thanks, Amanda. I’m ready and willing to laugh and cry my way through that one.

Our recommendations this week are: “When Women Were Dragons” by Kelly Barnhill and “The Guncle” by Steven Rowley.

Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations – interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.

Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.

Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER.

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