Twenty years ago my first book was published by Bob Jones University Press. Ten years ago they published my second book. Since then I’ve published four other books. Today I’m inviting you to join in the celebration of two milestones and learn some fun facts about these two books. I am also celebrating by offering both of these books as giveaways on Goodreads from September 12 to October 10, 2014. (Sorry, only US Goodreads members can enter to win. These books don’t have worldwide distribution rights.)
2014 — Twentieth Anniversary of Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World
Q: Peanut Butter Friends has outsold all your other books by far. Why do you think that is?
A: I believe two things really help sell this book.
First of all, it has a unique message. It gives a very realistic view of an MK leaving America, encountering a new culture, and learning to adapt to all the changes in the various aspects of her life. It shows a mission field that is modern, but has a very different culture than a Western culture. I’ve hunted and I can’t find one other fiction book for kids that does this. If you know of one, let me know. Many mission agencies have given this book to MK’s who are on their way to the mission field for the first time to help them understand the issues they will face in a new culture.
Secondly, Bob Jones University Press also uses this book as a companion novel with their Bible Truths 3: Following Christ. Many third graders read this book as part of their school work.
Q: Why does your book have such a long title when most titles today are short?
A: Of all the books I’ve written, Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World is the one most people recognize and remember. People often say they love the title. In the beginning Bob Jones University Press said the title was too long. Shorter titles are more popular today and they said it would give their cover designer problems. In the end, however, they accepted the title and worked it into their design. My husband often remarks that it is the title that people remember.
Q: I know Peanut Butter Friends is fiction, but does it reflect the experience of your daughters growing up in Taiwan?
A: Not really. They grew up in Taiwan from the time they were babies, so much of their experience was different than Amy’s. They didn’t experience “culture shock” like an older child would going to a new country. For much of their growing up years, however, they belonged to the only non-Chinese family in a town of 250,000 people. They did experience many things in the book. My husband and I experienced more culture shock as adults. I adapted my experience to a kid’s age level and wrote about the challenges MK’s commonly encounter in Taiwan.
Q: Was Peanut Butter Friends hard to write?
A: This was a very easy book to write because it came from my experience. The things Amy faced were many of the same things I faced, only on a child’s level. The things she ate, the places she went, the world in which she lived were the same as mine. I just took life all around me and put it in a fictional setting.
Q: Fiction is fun to read, but does it really change lives?
A: I hear from a very small percentage of my readers, but several MK’s have told me how this book has changed their lives. Here’s one example:
About ten years ago an MK named Amy wrote me. In 1998 Amy was six years old and her family was flying to Taiwan to begin being missionaries there. Amy was sad to be leaving her American friends behind and had been praying to make new friends in Taiwan. When Amy got on the plane her mom surprised her with a gift from her Grandma. That gift was a fiction book about a girl named Amy who also left America to become an MK in Taiwan—Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World. The real Amy’s mom told me, “Your book was such an incredible personal love gift from our Lord!” Amy read this book about 12 times during their first term of service in Taiwan. I like to think she patterned some of her life in Taiwan after my book.
Review by a reader
Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World is a fantastic book! It was such a great help to me, as I am sure it was to everyone else who has read it. My family & I are actually missionaries to Wales, so it helped that this girl my age was facing the same situations that I will deal with on the mission field! What I loved most was how she faced her problems in the end. Instead of bundling all of her fears inside, she went to God to ask for His help. I should do the same. Take it from me when I say that this book is a must-have! (In an earlier letter Krystal says she has read this book at least 11 times and that it’s her “all-time favorite.”)
—Krystal McPeters, 2014
Read the first chapter here.
Read the discussion questions here.
2014 — Tenth Anniversary of Two Sides to Everything
Q: Is this a story about missionaries too?
A: Not strictly. Josh leaves his parents in Denver to come live on a sheep farm in New Zealand with his mom’s uncle while she recovers from a serious accident. This book explores cultural differences, but only mentions American missionaries who have started the church Josh attends.
Q: Why did you write this book about adapting to another culture when you had already written one?
A: Chinese culture in Taiwan is very different from Kiwi culture in New Zealand. Kiwis (New Zealanders) speak English and their culture is much more similar to American culture, and yet there are subtle differences. Today many missionaries go to very progressive countries with a Western culture. They face different challenges than missionaries who go to third world countries with an extremely different culture. Two Sides reflects a ministry in a progressive, Western culture.
Q: How did you do research for Two Sides?
A: I live in Invercargill, New Zealand, a town of about 50,000 people on the southern tip of New Zealand. (It is home to the southernmost Starbucks in the world.) I am less familiar with the rural setting that this book reflects. Many of the people in our church know much more about farm life than I do. I asked my friends lots of questions and I stayed overnight at a farm bed and breakfast and asked the farmer lots of questions. I also sent pictures from our area that the artist, Matthew Archambault, used to illustrate the book.
Q: Is Two Sides also a reflection of what you have learned in New Zealand?
A: Certainly all the cultural ideas are ones I learned from living here. The main idea of the book is one that I have especially learned by living in different cultures as well as doing things with people of different personality types. Many people may experience the same event, yet each goes away with a slightly different view of what happened and why. We will get along with people better when we learn to view life from different perspectives.
Reviews by Readers
Deb Brammer weaves a great story that will keep readers turning the pages. Christian values are throughout the book without being preachy. Children ages 9-12 will find plenty of action and adventure. Older kids, including myself, found the book intriguing. Highly recommended!
—Jessica Loughner, age 13, Christian Book Previews
What a great find! BJUP does it again! Two Sides to Everything is a book my son eagerly devoured in one day (hours of reading pleasure.) Written by Deb Brammer, this book takes you to New Zealand where a whole different culture is discovered. Lots of drama, ending in a lesson in character and wisdom. Journey Forth, a department over at BJUP, is coming out with more and more excellent material all the time. Perfect for homeschoolers!
—Gena Suarez, Publisher, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Read the first chapter here.
Read the discussion questions here.