Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Community: Authors and Characters

May was Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, but it’s also important to acknowledge and celebrate AAPI heritage and peoples beyond May. For June, we put together a list of books by AAPI authors featuring AAPI characters and their experiences to be enjoyed all year round. This list by no means encompasses every children’s book available to read by AAPI authors with AAPI characters, but is rather a sampling that encompasses a diverse range of experiences and identities. In addition, included are a small list of resources for AAPI individuals and allies to utilize in these trying times and beyond.

Chee, Traci.
We Are Not Free. 2020 (Teen).
Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco, who have formed a community and a family, have their lives turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps. This collective account follows the tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, as they rally together to face racism and injustice that threaten to pull them apart.
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Ho, Joanna.
Illustrated by: Dung Ho
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners. 2021 (Picture Book).
A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’,who all have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. This young girl draws from the strength of these powerful women in her life, and she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment.
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Kelley, Tae.
When You Trap a Tiger. 2020 (Middle Grade).
When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now, the tigers want it back. And when one of those tigers offers Lily a deal — return what Halmoni stole in exchange for Halmoni’s health — Lily is tempted to accept. But deals with tigers are never what they seem!
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Kelly, Erin Entrada.
Blackbird Fly. 2015 (Middle Grade).
Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log — the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself.
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Khan, Hena.
Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel
Under my Hijab. 2019 (Picture Book).
Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab. This picture book honors the diverse lives of contemporary Muslim women and girls, their love for each other, and their pride in their culture and faith.
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Khorram, Adib.
Darius the Great is Not Okay. 2018 (Teen).
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. But he’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and to say he’s overwhelmed is an understatement. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything. Sohrab calls him Darioush , the original Persian version of his name, and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush. But when it’s time to go home to America, can Darius find a way to be Darioush on his own?
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LaMotte, Lily.
Illustrated by: Anna Xu
Measuring Up. 2020 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Twelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má’s, seventieth birthday together. Since she can’t go to A-má, Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There’s just one problem: Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food. Can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite with A-má, a way to fit in with her new friends, and somehow find herself too?
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Loomis, Ilima.
Illustrated by: Kenard Park
Ohana Means Family. 2020 (Picture Book).
Join the ohana as they farm taro for poi to prepare for a traditional luau celebration. In a poetic text in the style of The House That Jack Built, this picture book pairs the present and past by showing Hawaiian luau traditions and the family that works together to uphold them, celebrating Hawaiian land and culture.
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Menon, Sandhya.
From Twinkle, With Love. 2018 (Teen).
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore — if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. Offered the chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director and getting closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy, Sahil’s twin brother, means Twinkle’s dreams come true. The only slightly inconvenient problem: in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.
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Villanueva, Gail D.
My Fate According to the Butterfly. 2019 (Middle Grade).
When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly — an omen of death — she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her, and that just so happens to be her eleventh birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why. If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears and figure out the cause of their rift. So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying and digging into her family’s past, but their adventures across Manila reveal truths about Sab’s family more difficult (and dangerous) than she ever anticipated. Was the butterfly right?
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Yang, Kelly.
Parachutes. 2020 (Teen).
They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the US while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California. Suddenly, she’s living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. Desperately trying to avoid each other under the same roof, Dani and Claire find themselves on a collision course, intertwining as they grapple trauma and corruption.
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Resources

Stop AAPI Hate
In response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Stop AAPI Hate reporting center was launched, tracking and responding to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Anti-Asian Violence Resources
Anti-Asian racism and violent attacks on Asian elderly have increased in recent months. Unfortunately, many of these incidents are not being reported and are invisible to major media outlets. This list of resources has been gathered to help individuals educate others, take actions, donate, and more.

The AAPI COVID-19 Project
This collective research project housed at Harvard University’s Department of Sociology, examining the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as it continues to shape the lives of Asians, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (A/AA and NHPIs) in the United States. The project focuses on uncovering the multiple layers of harm including the virus itself and the intensification of racism and xenophobia that A/AAs and NHPIs have endured in its wake.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice
AAJC is an affiliation of five organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans. Their mission is to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all, and they’ve fought for Asian Americans in the national conversations that determine policies that shape lives.

National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
The mission of NAAPIMHA is to promote the mental health and wellness of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. They work closely with community-based organizations that address mental health and mental health related issues, working to provide access to high quality affordable mental health services for all.

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Graphic Novels

All kinds of stories are being told in graphic novel format, a style that mixes illustrations and text to create a unique reading experience. From adaptations of classics and modern favorites, to new work in fiction and nonfiction for all ages, graphic novels are for reluctant and avid readers alike, providing a different way to read. Reading graphic novels can benefit readers in different ways, such as creating empathy, allowing readers to read above their independent reading level, leveling the academic playing field, and building comprehension and critical reading skills. Novelist, comic book writer, and former teacher Kami Garcia goes into further detail and explains the importance of graphic novels in an article for TODAY. 

In honor of Free Comic Book Day on May 1st, we put together a list of graphic novels for you to enjoy throughout the month of May and beyond! From introductory comics for young readers to graphic novels for every age level to enjoy whether you’re new or old to the medium, as well as a short list of some graphic novels adapted from popular novels, we hope this list gives you either a new appreciation for the format or expands your already large list of graphic novels to read.

Curato, Mike
Flamer. 2020 (Teen).
It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is nervous; he worries that he’ll just be trading one set of bullies for another. In middle school, bullies called him gay, and made fun of him for being pudgy, not being very athletic, and for being half-Filipino. Aiden was always on guard and is scared high school will just be the same. But for now, Aiden is in his happy place: scouting camp. Camp is a place where he feels like he’s good at things and is wanted. But this year, there are bullies at camp too, and it’s causing Aiden to doubt himself. Not to mention, he can’t stop thinking about his friend Elias, and it’s making things weird for Aiden – and it threatens to ruin their friendship and Aiden’s whole summer.
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Ha, Robin.
Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir. 2020 (Nonfiction Teen).
It’s always been Robin and her mom against the world; growing up in the 1990s as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded the two fiercely. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama unexpectantly becomes a permanent relocation and Robin’s mom announces that she’s getting married, Robin is devastated. Her life completely changes overnight: she’s dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language; she’s completely cut off from her friends at home; she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily; and she’s furious with the one person she’s closest to – her mother. Then, one day, Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, and it opens the window to a future Robin could have never imagined.
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Hatke, Ben.
Little Robot. 2015 (Children).
One night, a large truck trundles over a bridge, on its way to deliver robots. An unexpected bump jars open the door and out plunges a box into the river. The next day, a five-year-old girl, armed with her tool belt and wrench, runs across the robot in the woods. When she presses its button, the robot comes alive. Though the two can’t communicate with words, they quickly develop their own language and become friends. But the new friends are in danger; once the factory discovers one of the robots is missing, a big bad robot is sent out to retrieve the little robot. In this nearly wordless picture book, these two characters learn boundaries and how to deal with disagreements and acceptance and navigating a new friendship when communicating is hard. This is a great introduction to graphic novels for the littles!
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Jamieson, Victoria.
When Stars Are Scattered. 2020 (Middle Grade).
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother’s needs make life hard at the camp. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future, but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Told by a Somali refugee who lived the story, this graphic novel is an intimate, important look at the day-to-day life of a refugee.
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Medina, Tony
Illustrated by: Stacey Robinson and John Jennings
I Am Alfonso Jones. 2017 (Teen).
Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he’s buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun and fatally shoots Alfonso. When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.
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Nguyen, Trung Le
The Magic Fish. 2020 (Teen).
Fairy tales are Tiến’s way of navigating through life. But real life isn’t a fairy tale. However, Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? What about a way to tell them he’s gay?
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O’Neill, Katie.
The Tea Dragon Society. 2017 (Middle Grade).
Apprentice blacksmith Greta is leaving her mother’s forge one day when she comes across a lost little dragon. When Greta rescues the dragon and finds out who it belongs to, she sets off to return the dragon – only to get an invitation from the owner, Hesekiel, to come and learn all about the tea dragons he cares for. Greta learns how to care for the tea dragons and how to create the tea these dragons grow on their back. Along the way, Greta gets closer to Hesekiel and his husband, Erik, and makes friends with Minette, a young girl who was training to be a prophetess and is now having trouble remembering things. Together, this group of individuals caring for tea dragons becomes a society that was once dying.
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Stevenson, Noelle.
The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures. 2020 (Nonfiction Teen).
In a collection of essays and personal mini-comics that span eight years of her young adult life, author-illustrator Noelle Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world. Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at her art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for her debut graphic novel, navigating fame and recognition or struggling with mental health and identity issues, Noelle captures the little and big moments, the great and the tough, that have made up her life.
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Weisner, David.
Mr. Wuffles! 2013 (Children).
A cat names Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens – but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble. When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. This completely wordless picture book is a great way to introduce children to graphic novels.
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Yee, Reimena
Séance Tea Party. 2020 (Middle Grade).
Lora is reaching an age where she feels her friends drifting apart, especially from her as their interests turn towards those of typical teenagers, while Lora still enjoys things she fears her friends view as childish. A lover of all things spooky, Lora holds a séance with her imaginary fairy creatures, and she summons Alexa, the ghost who haunts her house. While Lora is fearful of the future and growing up, Alexa has missed the opportunity to grow up and has watched as generations of children pass her by. Is someone who can’t grow up, who will always be around for her, exactly what Lora needs?
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Popular Adaptations

Palacio, R.J.
White Bird: A Wonder Story. 2019 (Middle Grade).
Have you read and loved Wonder? This graphic novel spin-off from the same universe follows Julian, who has an assignment at school to ask his grandmother to tell a story. Julian calls Grandmère, who tells a story of herself as a young Jewish girl hidden away by family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.
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Reynolds, Jason.
Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel. 2020 (Teen).
This graphic novel adaptation of the bestselling and award-winning novel, Long Way Down, uses a different medium to reach new and old readers alike. Fifteen-year-old Will has shoved a gun in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother was just murdered. And Will knows the rules: No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will is now heading, with the gun that was his brother’s gun. Will gets on the elevator, knowing where he’s going and who he’s after. Or does he? The story takes place within the sixty seconds he’s on the elevator, where he comes across people Will knows died, people his brother was connected to — people who give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows about his brother’s death.
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Russel, Craig P. and Neil Gaiman.
The Graveyard Book. 2014 (Teen).
Nobody “Bod” Owens is an orphan, taken in by residents of a graveyard after his parents are brutally murdered. Well, dead residents. Bod has been raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead. There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls; friendship with a witch, and much more. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives – and he has already killed Bod’s family. This graphic novel is an adaption of the bestselling and award-winning novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, available for new and old readers alike.
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Anyone Can Be A Scientist: Celebrating Citizen Science Month

April 2021 is Citizen Science Month! What is citizen science? Citizen science connects scientists and everyday people to help accelerate research and discovery. Essentially, citizen science is scientific research anyone can conduct in order to help real-life scientists. This could be from finding local ways to make a difference in protecting endangered species, to safeguarding water sources, to preventing disease, and more! Science needs more eyes, ears, and perspectives than any scientist possesses. Citizen science is an invitation to everyone to participate in real science on topics they care about. This month, we’ve put together a list of children’s books that shed light on how curious, motivated children can make a difference in science, as well a few resources to help with your citizen science curiosities and projects! Learn more about citizen science and how you can celebrate in April here: https://www.citizenscience.org/events/citizen-science-month/.

Stemple, Heidi E.Y.
Illustrated by: Clover Robin
Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends. 2018 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
What can you do to help endangered animals and make a positive change in our environment? Get counting! In this picture book, kids are introduced to the idea of bird counts and bird watches. Along the way they will learn about Frank Chapman, who used his bird knowledge to initiate the first annual bird count. Bird counting helps professional researchers collect data, share expertise, and spread valuable information to help all kinds of birds around the world. Counting Birds introduces kids to a whole feathered world that will fascinate and inspire them to get involved and become citizen scientists.
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Brown, Peter
The Curious Garden. 2009 (Picture Book).
While out exploring one day, Liam discovers a struggling garden — the only plant life in the city. Liam decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. With environmental themes and a garden that has a personality of its own, this picture book will teach children to protect nature and maybe even inspire them to create their own little garden.
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Burns, Loree Griffin
Illustrated by: Ellen Harasimowicz
Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard. 2012 (Children’s Nonfiction).
Anyone can get involved in gathering data for ongoing, actual scientific studies such as the Audubon Bird Count and FrogWatch USA! Just get out into a field, urban park, or your own backyard. This book will teach kids to put their nose to a monarch pupa or listen for raucous frog calls, to tally woodpeckers or sweep the grass for ladybugs, and much more. Citizen Scientists explains how kids can make a real, substantial difference in the world of science.
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Cousteau, Phillipe and Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by: Meilo So
Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles. 2016 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
Meet Viv, who has a new home and a new school by the sea. Inspired by her teacher, Viv and her classmates are looking for a problem to solve, and Viv soon discovers the body of a baby turtle facing away from the sea during a visit to the beach. She then does some research, and Viv figures out the lights from the beach houses are putting the turtles in danger and confusing their natural instincts. With her classmates’ help, Viv works to get the message out to the community to turn off lights at night to save the turtles. This picture book of environmental action, community, and friendship takes children on a journey of activism and how kids can help using science.
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Forrest, Time and Jen Hamel
Bug Camp: Where Every Day’s an Adventure. 2016 (Middle Grade).
This book is a culmination of the authors’ decades of experience with bug camps, creating a resource filled with games, experiments, cool facts, and stories. Discover insect mouth parts that chew, siphon, pierce, and absorb and antennae that smell and hear. Learn how to identify crickets and katydids from their songs and how to find firefly signals and honeybee waggle dances. Collect caterpillars and watch them morph into butterflies and moths. Go on scavenger hunts to find cool predators, prey, and parasites. Conduct experiments and collect citizen science data. With hundreds of insect photos from around the world and millions of real insects in every neighborhood, kids will be able to become scientist themselves from their own backyard.
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Forrester, Anna
Illustrated by: Susan Detwiler
Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story. 2017 (Picture Book).
Jojo is prepping for an exciting night: it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm. Follow Jojo and her family as they participate in their own citizen science project!
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Kamkwamba, William
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. 2015 (Nonfiction Middle Grade).
When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. Near starvation and forced to drop out of school, William began to explore science books in his small village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.
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Note: This story is also available as a nonfiction picture book for younger readers under the same title. Q. SB. K156b

Sidman, Joyce
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science. 2018 (Middle Grade Biography).
Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be “born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.” Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them? One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. With quotes and illustrations from Maria Merian herself, this story tells the tale of one of the first female entomologists, and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.
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Resources:

BeeSpotter https://beespotter.org/
Looking for a citizen science project in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, or Ohio? Check out the annual bee spotting project that typically occurs in early June each year. BeeSpotter is a web-based portal at the University of Illinois for learning about honey bees and bumble bees and for contributing data to a nationwide effort to collect baseline information on population status of these insects.

CitizenScience.gov
This is an official government website designed to accelerate the use of citizen science across the U.S. government. Here, you can view current projects and utilize citizen science toolkits that provide five basic process steps for planning, designing, and carrying out a citizen science project to help federal employees. These toolkits also have case studies, models, and other resources, including success stories and some of the challenges that developers faced in designing and carrying out citizen science projects.

Common Sense Education: Real-World Science Resources for Students
It’s important for students to see how science works out in the real world, beyond the limits of classrooms and textbooks, and Common Sense Education has put together a list of websites and apps to help with this. Some of the tools on the list get students observing the behavior of animals on a webcam, listening to and analyzing the sounds of whales, watching the stars in the sky, and identifying plant or animal species — executing citizen science projects of their own.

SciGirls: Citizen Science Fun for All! (PBS)
This helpful tool can aid in picking projects for you and your little one to do. With user-friendly drop-down menus, you can pick an activity, topic, and use keywords to search through the SciStarter database and pick a citizen science project to fill your kids’ day.


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Mental Wellness: Shining a Light on Mental Health

March 2 is Teen Mental Wellness Day, a day dedicated to shining a light on mental health struggles for teens and to remove the stigma mental health often has, so we highlight books for children and young adults that face mental health head on. Whether it is a child facing it themselves or someone in their life that struggles with it, these books cover a wide range of mental health obstacles: from anxiety to depression to PTSD to OCD and more. Trigger warnings will be listed at the beginning of each entry where needed. These books do not encompass the entirety of mental health issues people face, but rather a small sampling.

We also compiled a list of professional resources for anyone to access. If you are a child or young adult or you know of a child/young adult struggling with mental health, we hope these resources help, whether through reaching out for help, learning more about mental illness and how to cope with it, or connecting with similar youth.

Books:

Gephart, Donna
Lily and Dunkin. 2016 (Middle Grade).
Trigger Warning: not taking medication
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl, but being a girl isn’t easy when you look like a boy, especially when you’re in the eighth grade. Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he’s also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. This dual narrative follows both young people as they struggle mentally through their challenges, but they get to do it together.
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Hall, Michael
Red: A Crayon’s Story. 2015 (Picture Book).
Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red by drawing strawberries; his mother tries to help him be red by sending him on a playdate with a yellow classmate to draw a nice orange together; and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries. A brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what he’s known all along. This picture book on identity crises is about being true to your inner self and following your own path, despite the obstacles that may come your way.
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Holmes, Margaret
A Terrible Thing Happened. 2000 (Picture Book).
Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first, he tries to forget about it. But soon something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous, sometimes his stomach hurt, he had bad dreams, and he started to feel angry and do mean things, which gets him in trouble. Then he met Ms. Maple, who helped him talk about the terrible thing that he had tried to forget. This illustrated story is for children who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic episode and may be experiencing some PTSD from the event, whether that be physical abuse, school or gang violence, accidents, homicide, suicide, or natural disasters.
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Hopkins, Ellen
Impulse. 2007 (Teen).
Trigger Warnings: suicide, cutting, addiction, depression
Three lives converge at the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted suicide. Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets have been bottling up and the only way to release them is through cutting. Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills. And Conner outwardly has the perfect life, but dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, and himself. In one instant, all three decided enough was enough — and tried to end it all. This verse novel traverses the demons these individuals face and the strength they need to find to face their second chance.
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Keller, Tae
The Science of Breakable Things. 2018 (Middle Grade).
Trigger Warning: parent with depression
Natalie Napoli’s botanist mother is suffering from depression, not getting out of bed most days. When Mr. Neely, Natalie’s science teacher, suggests that Natalie enter an egg drop competition, Natalie doesn’t want to at first. Not until she realizes that she could use the prize money to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids—flowers that survive against impossible odds. Natalie thinks the flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Alongside broken friendships and new friendships, science projects, and enthusiastic teachers, Natalie learns that depression is not a choice.
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Khorram, Adib
Darius the Great is Not Okay. 2018 (Teen).
Trigger Warning: clinical depression
Darius Kellner doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough. He speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. And he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. So it’s pretty overwhelming taking his first-ever trip to Iran. But in Iran, he gets to know his ailing but formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he also gets to meet Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab. And as Sohrab calls him Darioush, the original Persian version of his name, Darius has never felt more like himself. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
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Oshiro, Mark
Anger is a Gift. 2018 (Teen).
Trigger Warnings: loss of a parent, panic attacks, racism, violence, police brutality, murder
Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’s father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school: new rules, random locker searches, constant intimidation, and the Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. So the students decide to fight back by organizing and pushing back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must decide if he should give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.
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Rooks, Jo
Hector’s Favorite Place. 2018 (Picture Book).
Hector loves his home — it’s comfy, snuggly, and safe. But sometimes Hector relies on the safety of his home too much. He’s invited to play outside with his friends, but he worries about the potential problems he might encounter. And soon, Hector realizes that his worries are keeping him from enjoying himself, so he needs to learn to be brave and try new things. This picture book about anxiety and worries encourages kids to step outside their comfort zone.
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Stokes, Paula
Girl Against the Universe. 2016 (Teen).
Trigger Warnings: PTSD, anxiety, OCD, compulsions, agoraphobia
Sixteen-year-old Maguire knows the universe is against her. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen around her. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or the time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash, and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. Despite what her therapist tells her, Maguire thinks it’s best to hide out in her room, far away from anyone she might accidentally hurt. But then she meets Jordy, and Maguire knows the best thing she can do for him is to stay away. However, it turns out staying away might be harder than she thought.
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Swartz, Elly D.
Finding Perfect. 2016 (Middle Grade).
Trigger Warnings: OCD, compulsions
To Molly Nathans, perfect is the number four, the tip of a newly sharpened number two pencil, a crisp white pad of paper, and her neatly aligned glass animal figurines. What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are often broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: win the Lakeville Middle School Slam Poetry Contest, where the winner is honored at a fancy banquet with tablecloths. Molly is sure her mother would never miss it. But as time goes on, writing and reciting slam poetry becomes harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly’s world from spinning out of control.
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Resources:

Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM)
SAHM has a comprehensive list of mental health resources for adolescents and young adults, offering online resources, apps and tech services, mental health resource institutes, mental health medication guides, and helplines. These resources are aimed specifically for adolescent and young adults.

TeenMentalHealth.org
This organization is available to inform individuals about their mental health. They aim to take the best available scientific evidence in mental health and make it easy to understand and accessible to everyone. Materials provided are in a variety of mediums including videos, animations, brochures, e-books, face-to-face training programs, and online training programs. The materials are specifically designed to meet the needs of children, youth, young adults, families, educators, community agencies, and healthcare providers.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness. They work to educate, advocate, listen, and lead to improve the lives of people with mental illness and their loved ones. There are resources on their website for individuals suffering from mental illness—for adults, children, youth, teens, and young adults—as well as for family members and caregivers who may need help in understanding/helping loved ones with mental illness. NAMI currently has extended helpline hours; call the NAMI helpline at 800-950-6264 M-F 10 am – 8 pm ET or in a crisis text “NAMI” to 741741 for 24/7, confidential, free crisis counseling.

Center for Parent Information & Resources
This Center, under the U.S. Department of Education, has a comprehensive list of resources for parents with children suffering from mental illness. It includes fact sheets, information for a crisis situation, a comprehensive list of resources, information on finding mental health services, and organizations that help with specific disorders.


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Celebrating Love Found in Unlikely Friendships

February is the month most known for Valentine’s Day, celebrating romantic love between partners. However, there are many other different kinds of love that should always be celebrated, in particular, the love between friends. This month, we’re highlighting books with friendships that you don’t expect to work but instead do; from ghosts and humans to an assassin and a prince, these unlikely matches will help you in celebrating the diverse range of love that friendships represent.

Barclay, Eric
Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep. 2019 (Picture Book).
Sheep is an expert at two things: dancing and watching the other sheep. But then one day, she meets a new hairy friend who claims to also watch sheep. Sheep knows that can’t be right since she’s the pro! So, Sheep decides to get everything Sheep Dog needs to get the job done, but each time she leaves, something almost happens to Sheep — only for Sheep Dog to save the day. Even with Sheep Dog doing Sheep’s job better than she can do it, this picture book on friendship shows that even the best watchers must look out for each other.
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Barnett, Mac
Illustrated by: Christian Robinson
Leo: A Ghost Story. 2015 (Picture Book).
You would like being friends with Leo: he likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him — because Leo is a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it’s time to see the world; but his town has changed considerably since Leo became a ghost. And then Leo meets Jane — a kid with a large imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends, and where the adventures of Sir Leo the Ghost and King Jane the Human begin.
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Kelly, Erin Entrada
Hello, Universe. 2017 (Middle Grade).
Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family; Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart and brave but secretly lonely and loves everything about nature; Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around; and Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. These four are not friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. The disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Friendship blooms between the very different kids as they perform the rescue and put a bully in his place.
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Gaiman, Neil.
Illustrated by: Jill Schwarz
Cinnamon. 2017 (Picture Book).
A long time ago in India, there lived a princess named Cinnamon. Cinnamon had pearls for eyes that were incapable of sight; and Cinnamon had been mute her whole life. In an effort to help, her mother and father offered many riches to anyone who could get Cinnamon to speak. Numerous teachers tried everything they could think of, but nothing worked, and Cinnamon still did not speak. Until one day, a tiger came to the palace, armed with knowledge of the world. And the tiger talked. Cinnamon’s parents put Cinnamon and the tiger together, and the tiger taught the sheltered Cinnamon about some of the things she had been missing. A friendship sparked as this talking tiger got Cinnamon to utter her first words.
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Maas, Sarah J.
Throne of Glass. 2012 (Teen).
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian and his Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall offer Celaena her freedom on one condition: she must act as Prince Dorian’s champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years, and then be granted her freedom. Through training, the contests, pretending to be someone she’s not for court life, and contestants being murdered, the assassin, the prince, and the Captain of the Guard work together to face it all — and friendships form amid the harrowing events.
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Mead, Richelle
Bloodlines. 2011 (Teen).
Sydney Sage is an alchemist, a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. She helps to protect vampire secrets — and human lives. Even if they’re protecting their secrets, the alchemists hate vampires, and the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiances in question, her future is on the line. In order to show her loyalty lies with the alchemists rather than the vampires, Sydney is sent on a mission: she must act as protector to vampire Jill, who’s forced into hiding from mortal danger. Sydney has to pose as Jill’s roommate and sister at a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants, or needs, is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires, and now she has to live with one. As threats and distractions abound, Sydney must work very hard to stay separate from Jill and her guardians to show that she can do her job — but it’s much harder than she thinks when friendship begins to bloom between her and the vampire.
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Perez, Celia C.
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers. 2019 (Middle Grade).
Ofelia Castilla (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) all receive a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion. Unable to pass up the promise of adventure and mischief, they meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it’s certainly not love at first sight for all of them. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts troop, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice and independence, the girls discover they can be their unique, individual selves while supporting one another, and finding the sisterhood they didn’t know they needed amidst their fight for justice.
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Schwab, Victoria
City of Ghosts. 2018 (Middle Grade).
Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectors, a ghost-hunting team with a new show that sends them around the world to find proof of the supernatural. But Cass herself can really see ghosts, and her best friend Jacob just happens to be one. The Inspectors head to the ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland for their show, and Cassidy and Jacob come along. There, Cassidy is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them as friendly as Jacob. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an in-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cassidy isn’t so sure — especially when the only friend she has is a ghost himself. However, she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in this world, and Cassidy must use her powers in an epic fight through the worlds of the living and the dead in order to save herself.
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Schwab, Victoria
This Savage Song. 2016 (Teen).
Kate Harker and August Flynn are heirs to a divided city, where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection from them. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own human father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent — but he’s a monster, one who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music from his violin. When August gets the chance to be normal by keeping an eye on Kate, attending the school that she does, he jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt, the pair must flee for their lives. As they wade through the city of humans and monsters and corruption and peril, the human that wants to be a monster and the monster that wants to be human form a friendship that could help save their lives.
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Tahir, Sabaa
A Torch Against the Night. 2016 (Teen).
In this second book in the An Ember in the Ashes quartet, Elias and Laia are running for their lives. Elias was once a Mask, a soldier trained to kill and keep the order of the Empire; Laia was once a slave, working for The Commandant, the most terrifying Mask of all. The two have fled Blackcliff, the school that trains Masks like Elias, and are now fugitives of the Empire. And Helene Akiva is chasing after them. Once best friends, Helene and Elias are now enemies, but it’s hard to let go of those ties when Helene is tasked with killing him. And Elias and Laia, two people from very different backgrounds and who should be enemies, are slowly forming a friendship as they try to survive the soldiers and Masks sent after them. Old friendships and new friendships and complications for both abound in this sequel.

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Don’t Let the Aliens Intimidate You: Celebrating Science Fiction

January 2nd is National Science Fiction Day, and we wanted to celebrate by giving you a list of science fiction children’s books to try! Oftentimes, science fiction is a genre that intimidates people with its imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and even extraterrestrial life. It’s a genre that can be difficult to define, with its wide range of concepts and themes. However, we’ve picked a few children’s books that we think would be a great start in dipping your toes into the science fiction genre if you’ve been too intimidated, or, if you’re a science fiction lover, here’s some to add to your list!

Barnett, Mac
Oh no! How My Science Project Destroyed the World. 2010 (Picture Book).
It’s a terrible thing when a giant robot starts destroying your city; it’s even worse when it’s your fault. This picture book opens up in the middle of the action, as our heroine faces the retreating back of a mechanical robot on the rampage — a robot she built. We soon learn that after winning the science fair with her giant robot, our main character watches as her robot gets loose in the city and creates havoc, making her question all of the features that she should have included and ones that she definitely shouldn’t have — like that laser eye. Now it’s up to her to stop it.
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Holm, Jennifer
The Fourteenth Goldfish. 2014 (Middle Grade).
Ellie is an eleven-year-old who is not a fan of change; she’s missing fifth grade, her old best friend, and even her dearly departed goldfish. But then a strange boy shows up one day — a bossy, cranky boy that oddly looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Now this bossy, cranky boy who’s just like her grandpa has to attend middle school with Ellie. This middle grade novel slips in a lot of information about important scientists and life-changing scientific discoveries alongside light and funny interactions and moments.
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Kaufman, Amie and Jay Kristoff
Gemina. 2016 (Teen).
Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life, but nobody said it might actually kill her. Hanna is the pampered daughter of the station caption; Nik is the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. While the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring station, an elite intergalactic strike team invades the station, throwing the two together to defend their home. Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival amidst alien predators and a malfunctioning wormhole — the fate of everyone on their space station (and possibly the known universe) is in their hands. This second book in a series (the first being Illuminae) is told through a dossier of hacked documents, including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, video transcripts, pictures, and more.
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Meyer, Marissa
Cinder. 2012 (Teen).
This futuristic Cinderella retelling takes place in New Beijing, a city that’s crowded by humans, androids, and a deadly plague ravaging the population. Cinder is a gifted mechanic — and a cyborg. As a cyborg, Cinder doesn’t have the same rights as a normal person, and her stepmother goes out of her way to remind Cinder of this whenever she can — even while Cinder tries to hide her cyborg status from the world. But her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, and she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle. Cinder is the first book in a Disney series, The Lunar Chronicles, of retellings of familiar stories set in a science fiction world.
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O’Hart, Sinéad
The Starspun Web. 2019 (Middle Grade).
Tess has lived at Miss Ackerbee’s orphanage all her life, with her friends and pet tarantula, Violet. But one day, a mysterious man named Mr. Cleat shows up and whisks Tess away to live with him. Before Tess leaves, Miss Ackerbee gives her a strange lens and makes an even stranger admission: that Tess can travel to parallel worlds and has been able to do so since she was found as a baby. Now Tess must learn to navigate her newfound abilities alongside her new life with Mr. Cleat and his nefarious housekeeper, all while trying to keep her abilities secret and making sure the lens doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
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Sanderson, Brandon
Skyward. 2018 (Teen).
Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly under attack by mysterious alien starfighters. The population is hidden under the earth, the only ones visiting the surface being pilots trained to fight against the aliens attacking them. Spensa, a teenage girl whose father once was a pilot, wants nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps and be accepted into flight school. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes her dream might be possible — assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school where everyone seems to hate her because of what her father did, and persuade the strange ship to help her because this ship appears to have a soul.
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Schusterman, Neal
Scythe. 2016 (Teen).
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. No death. Humanity has conquered all those things. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life — and they are commanded to do so in order to keep the size of the population under control. All manners of life are now controlled by the Thunderhead, a conscious Artificial Intelligence that handles all food and wealth distribution, medical care, and anything else required for living on Earth. Citra and Rowan are chosen to be apprentices to scythes — a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking a life, knowing that the consequence could mean losing their own.
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Siegel, Mark
The Sand Warrior. 2017 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Star Wars meets Avatar: The Last Airbender in this science fiction graphic novel, where the Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. Three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves than meets the eye: Oona Lee, the clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine; An Tzu, a boy from the poorest slums, has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations; and Jax Amboy is the star athlete who is beloved by the entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends? These three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest across the universe.
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Underwood, Deborah
Illustrated by: Meg Hunt
Interstellar Cinderella. 2015 (Picture Book)
Cinderella’s passion is working on spaceships and fixing things. She doesn’t want to marry the prince — she wants to be his mechanic. Living with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, she acts as the household mechanic, with her best friend being a robot mouse. When everyone is invited to the Prince’s Royal Space Parade, Cinderella’s stepmother forbids her to go. With a little help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is going to the parade — but when the Prince’s ship has mechanical trouble, Cinderella will have to zoom to the rescue. After leaving her screwdriver, the Prince frantically searches for the great mechanic, and he sets up a test to see who can fix his rocket.
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Van Camp, Katie
Illustrated by: Lincoln Agnew
Harry and Horsie. 2009 (Picture Book).
With the moon shining through the window onto his new Super Duper Bubble Blooper, Harry finds it hard to sleep. He instead decides to sneak out of bed with his best friend, Horsie, and play with the toy, firing the bubble gun around his room. Before long, bubbles of all sizes are filling Harry’s room, but those bubbles then start to swallow up all Harry’s toys, floating them out the window towards space! The bubbles take his toy train, his cars, his planes, his shoes; but then the bubbles take Horsie, and Harry doesn’t hesitate in jumping on his toy rocket ship and racing to rescue his best friend.

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What 2020 Did Right: Diverse Books for Read a New Book Month

2020 has been a difficult year in many ways, but one thing that went right was the diverse books that were published. As December is National Read a New Book Month, there’s no better way to celebrate the end of this challenging year than by putting a spotlight on the new diverse voices that were put on our shelves this year. From race to neurodiversity to LGBTQ+ representation and more, this list explores how far we’ve come as a society while also shedding light on how far we still have to go in accepting and allowing for equality. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but rather a small taste of diversity being recognized in modern literature for youth.

Albertalli, Becky and Aisha Saeed
Yes, No, Maybe So. 2020 (Teen).
Jamie is volunteering for his local state senate candidate, happy to work behind the scenes. But when he needs to start knocking on doors to ask people for their votes, Jamie chokes. Maya is having the worst Ramadan ever — she’s unable to hang out with her best friend, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing. Jamie and Maya go door to door together, mastering local activism and navigating a cross-cultural romance. This young adult novel has a Muslim main character and explains the importance of activism and voting.
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Brantley-Newton, Vanessa.
Just Like Me. 2020 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
This picture book is a collection of poetry filled with mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don’t; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. Black girls, brown girls, Asian girls, white girls, biracial girls, and more fill these pages, celebrating and encouraging and empowering all girls.
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Duncan, Alice Faye
Just Like a Mama. 2020 (Picture Book).
Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose, but in the midst of their happy home, Carol Olivia Clementine misses her mother and father. While Mama Rose teaches Carol Olivia Clementine how to ride a bike, clean her room, and tell time, Carol Olivia Clementine learns to embrace the love that is present and Mama Rose becomes her “home.” And Carol Olivia Clementine concludes that she loves Mama Rose “just like a mama.” This picture book takes a deep look at the life of a caregiver who opens their arms and home to a child that is not their own.
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Hudson, Chery and Erin K. Robinson
Brave, Black, First: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World. 2020 (Middle Grade Biography).
Published in partnership with curators from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, this illustrated biography compilation captures the iconic moments of fifty African American women whose heroism and bravery rewrote the American story for the better. From Rosa Parks who sat for equality to Michelle Obama who transformed the White House, this book sheds light on fearless, bold African American women who changed the game.
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Jamieson, Victoria and Omar Mohamed
When Stars Are Scattered. 2020 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother’s needs make life hard at the camp. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future, but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Told by a Somali refugee who lived the story, this graphic novel is an intimate, important look at the day-to-day life of a refugee.
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Johnson, George M.
All Boys Aren’t Blue. 2020 (Teen Nonfiction).
In a series of personal essays, George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at the age of five, to flea marketing with his grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. This book is a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color; it covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy.
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Kapit, Sarah
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! 2020 (Middle Grade).
Vivy Cohen wants to play baseball. Ever since her hero — Major League pitcher VJ Capello — taught her how to throw a knuckleball at a family fun day for kids with autism, she’s been perfecting her pitch, and now she knows she’s ready to play on a real team. When her social skills teacher makes her write a letter to someone she knows, she writes to VJ and tells him everything about how much she wants to pitch, and how her mom says she can’t because she’s a girl and because she has autism. And then two amazing things happen: Vivy meets a Little League coach who invites her to join his team and VJ starts writing back. Vivy Cohen won’t let autism stop her from play baseball in this epistolary middle grade novel.
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Lindstrom, Caroel
Illustrated by: Michaela Goade
We Are Water Protectors. 2020 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, this picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption.
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Stamper, Phil
The Gravity of Us. 2020 (Teen).
Cal is used to sharing his life online as a seventeen-year-old successful social media journalist with half a million followers. But he’s thrust into a media circus when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, moving from Brooklyn to Houston. Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon amidst the chaos, another “Astrokid,” and Cal finds himself falling head over heels — fast. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him. This LGBTQ+ young adult novel explores the thrill of first love and the overwhelming feeling of self-doubt.
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Stead, Rebecca
The List of Things That Will Not Change. 2020 (Middle Grade).
After her parents’ divorce, Bea’s life became different in many ways, but she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other. When Bea’s Dad tells her that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, Bea is thrilled; she loves Jesse, and when he and her dad get married, she’ll finally have what she’s always wanted — a sister. As the wedding day approaches, Bea will learn that making a new family brings questions, surprises, and joy in this middle grade novel celebrating queer parents and shining a light on childhood mental illness.
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Shop Small: Books About Small Businesses for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is November 28th this year and it could be the most important Small Business Saturday yet. With the ongoing pandemic and threat of Coronavirus — the quarantine and restrictions that have been put into place for months now — small businesses have been suffering; reports show they are closing by the thousands, partially and permanently. Small Business Saturday is a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities, and this year it’s vital to show that support. For November, we thought we’d celebrate small businesses by highlighting some books for children and teens that have small businesses at their core. Remember to shop small, especially as the holiday season begins to approach!

Brown, Calef
Pirateria: The Wonderful Plunderful Pirate Emporium. 2012 (Picture Book).
When pirates need superior wares and treasure for life at sea, they head on down to Pirateria. This is a story about a pirate emporium, where you can find treasure chests, peg legs, planks, eye patches, head rags, vests, pantaloons, satchels, gem pouches, and doubloons — all at prices that can’t be beat. This picture book will take you on a rhyming journey through Pirateria — a small business that’s there for all your pirate needs.

Jaigirdar, Adiba
The Henna Wars. 2020 (Teen).
A school competition invites students to create their own businesses, and old friends Flávia and Nishat both choose to do henna. Nishat wants to do a henna business because it’s her culture and her grandmother taught her; Flávia decides to do henna because it’s trendy. A crush, coming out to her parents (with less-than-great reactions), sabotage, and school stress makes Nishat’s life more hectic as it gets tangled with Flávia’s as their small businesses go to war. Covering heavy topics such as cultural appropriation and racism, this book helps teens starting their own small businesses to have that conversation, as well as showing what small businesses can mean to individuals.

Lord, Emma
Tweet Cute. 2020 (Teen).
Pepper runs the massive Twitter account for her family’s booming fast-food chain Big League Burgers; Jack starts running the Twitter account for his family’s small deli when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, using the social media profile to try and take down the chain one tweet at a time. Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war, helping Jack’s family’s small business in the process. Little do the two know that, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles on their business accounts, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. This book takes a look at the struggles small businesses often face, from starting one to keeping one running.

Panetta, Kevin
Illustrated by: Savanna Ganucheau
Bloom. 2019 (Teen Graphic Novel).
Ari used to love working at his family’s bakery, but now that he’s graduated from high school, he’s ready to move to the big city. While interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, a laid-back guy who loves baking. As they work together in the bakery during the busy summer season, Ari begins to appreciate the bakery once again — as well as Hector. This graphic novel highlights the importance of a family business while making you hungry for some baked goods.

Pelley, Kathleen T.
Illustrated by Paige Keiser
Raj the Bookstore Tiger. 2011 (Picture Book).
Being a bookstore tiger is hard work, but Raj is up to the task. He spends his days patrolling the shelves, sitting in laps at story hour, and sleeping in the window displays. Raj is proud of his work, until Snowball comes along — the new cat in the bookstore. Snowball informs Raj that he’s just a marmalade kitty-cat, and times become tough for the bookstore tiger. But Raj and bookstore owner Felicity, with the help of poet William Blake, knows how to fix things with a very special book. This picture book takes you on a journey through a bookstore, showing the importance of independent bookstores and the booksellers and cats that work there.

Polacco, Patricia
Something About Hensley’s. 2006 (Picture Books).
No matter what you need, Hensley’s has it. It’s almost magical the way the manager, Old John, seems to know what the townsfolk need before they do. When Molly and her family moves to town and Molly’s mother can’t afford the treatment for Molly’s asthma, Old John finds a way to give the family exactly what they need. This picture book shows the importance of small businesses and the people who work there — who will do anything they can to get you what you need.

Vivian, Siobhan
Stay Sweet. 2018 (Teen).
Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to the local ice cream stand, Meade Creamery. Founded in 1944 by Molly Meade, the stand was started because Molly wanted to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys went off to war. Since then, the stand has been managed exclusively by local girls, and this summer it’s run by Amelia and her best friend Cate. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia is worried the stand can’t go on. But the arrival of Molly’s grandnephew Grady and his request for Amelia to stay on to help continue the business gives her hope. A story about how small businesses can bring people and a community together for many years.

West, Kasie
Maybe This Time. 2019 (Teen).
Sophie Evans works for the local florist, arranging bouquets and centerpieces for all the events in town — weddings, funerals, barbecues, New Year’s Eve parties. Andrew Hart is the son of a big-time chef, attending the same events that Sophie attends over the course of a year as his father helps the local catering business get back on its feet. While romance brews for Sophie and Andrew as they meet at all the major celebrations in their small town, the small businesses they both work for are at the heart of the story, showing how important those small-town businesses can be in bringing a community together.

And if you have a young one in your life who wants to start their own small business, here are a couple for you:

Berstein, Daryl
Illustrated by: Rob Husberg
Better Than a Lemonade Stand. 2012 (Children’s Nonfiction).
This resource includes more than fifty simple business ideas, complete with tips about supplies, time needed, what to charge, and how to advertise. These ideas show how to start a business with little or no start-up costs, attract and retain customers, develop negotiating skills, and more. Originally written and published when the author was fifteen, this book is a good starting point to help the kid in your life start their own business.

Yamada, Kobi
Illustrated by: Mae Besom
What Do You Do with an Idea? 2014 (Picture Book).
Have you ever had an idea that seemed a little too big? This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. If you have an idea for a business, this book will help in getting you to welcome the idea, give it space to grow, and see what happens to it next.

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Read These if You Dare: Banned Books Week

September 27-October 3, 2020 is the annual Banned Books Week event — a celebration of the freedom to read. This event was launched in 1982, responding to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries, and highlighting the value of free and open access to information. You can learn more about banned books, Banned Books Week, and find out how many are celebrating this year’s event by going to the Banned Books Week website.

Check out some children’s books below that have been banned or challenged in recent years — and read them if you dare!

Gino, Alex
George. 2015 (Middle Grade).
George knows people see a boy when they look at her. But she knows she’s not a boy; she knows she’s a girl, and she thinks she’ll have to keep this secret forever. But when her teacher announces the class is going to be doing the play Charlotte’s Web, George is set on playing Charlotte. When the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part because she’s a boy, George and her best friend Kelly come up with a plan so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. This book has been banned for including a transgender child.
[S. G434g]

Haack, Daniel
Illustrated by: Stevie Lewis
Prince and Knight. 2018 (Picture Book).
A prince next in line to take the throne, a dragon, and a brave knight — this picture book tells a story of a prince searching for a bride, a dragon threatening the kingdom, and a knight in shining armor brave enough to defeat the dragon. As they work to slay the dragon threatening the kingdom, the prince and knight find true love in each other. This picture has been banned for the same sex relationship developed throughout the book.
[Q. SE. H113pr]

Herthel, Jessica and Jazz Jennings
Illustrated by: Shelagh McNicholas
I am Jazz! 2014 (Picture Book Biography).
Based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, a spokesperson for trankids everywhere, this picture book follows Jazz, who at two years old knew she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. It explores her family’s adjustment period to her transition, her classmates’ behavior towards her, and touches on how important it is to be accepting of and loving people for who they are. This book has been banned for being about a transgender child.
[Q. SE. H44i]

Hoffman, Sarah and Ian Hoffman
Illustrated by: Chris Case
Jacob’s New Dress. 2014 (Picture Book).
Jacob loves playing dress up, when he can be anything he wants to be. When Jacob wants to wear a dress to school, he’s met with some pushback from classmates, his teacher, and his parents. But Jacob works hard to convince everyone that he can be who he wants to be and wear his dress to preschool. This book has been banned because of the gender-nonconforming and transgender character.
(SE. H672jane]

Pitman, Gayle.
Illustrated by: Kristyna Litten
This Day in June. 2014 (Picture Book).
The tale of a pride parade and all the people you can meet there, this picture book is bursting with color and is told in verse form. The end of the book has a reading guide that explains each verse and how it relates to LGBTQ history. It also includes a resource guide at the back for parents wanting to talk about LGBTQ issues and topics with their children. This book has been banned because of the LGBTQ content.
[Q. SE. P683t]

McGinnis, Mindy.
Heroine. 2019 (Teen).
This is the story of Mickey, a senior in high school whose promising future in softball has colleges offering her scholarships left and right. But that future comes to a standstill after a car crash shatters Mickey’s hip. Mickey, however, is still determined, working hard to heal quickly for softball tryouts — all with the help of some painkillers that take the pain away and make her feel good. Pressures heighten, needs increase, and the painkillers become more than just a way to heal. This book has been challenged because of the detailed scenes of drug abuse.
[S. M1759he]

Mead, Richelle
Vampire Academy. 2007 (Teen).
The first of a six book series following Rose Hathaway, a guardian to a magical race of mortal vampires against the soulless and vicious immortal vampires. Rose’s journey is filled with action, adventure, friendship, romance, duty, magic, and sass as she goes through her last year of guardian training with the goal of being the guardian for her best friend Lissa. This book has been banned for content including vampires, magic, and sexual content.
[S. M4613v]

Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
This One Summer. 2014 (Teen Graphic Novel).
With stunning artwork, this graphic novel follows Rose as she heads back to her summer lake house — a getaway and refuge for her and her friend Windy. But this summer is different, with Rose’s parents constantly fighting and new problems cropping up as Rose and Windy seek distraction. This piece explores secrets and sorrow and growing on the cusp of teen-hood. This graphic novel has been banned because it includes LGBTQ characters, drug use, and profanity.
[S.741.5971 T15t]

Telgemeier, Raina.
Colorist: Gurihiru
Grown. 2012 (Middle Grade Graphic Novel).
Callie loves theater, and while trying out for her middle school’s musical would be a blast, she can’t really sing. Instead, Callie’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew and she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway. But she’s met with resistance when she doesn’t know anything about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together. And of course, more drama than just onstage occurs when actors are chosen and two cute brothers enter the picture! This graphic novel has been banned for being sexually explicit and for LGBTQ content.
[S.741.5973 T271d]

Twiss, Jull
Illustrated by: E.G. Keller and Charlotte Pence
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. 2018 (Picture Book).
Marlon Bundo is a lonely bunny who lives with his grandpa, Mike Pence—the Vice President of the United States. This is the story of a very special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. It explores issues of same sex marriage and democracy while weaving a tale of tolerance and advocacy. This book has been banned because of the LGBTQ content.
[Q. SE. B8826da]

And as an added bonus, if you would like to know more about book banning and how it can either help or hurt, check out the following book all about book banning in a high school:

Connis, Dave.
Suggested Reading. 2019 (Teen).
Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” list. The books have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises, and students caught with the contraband will be punished. Clara herself has been impacted by many of the stories on this list and decides she’s going to rebel by starting an underground library, supplying the banned books to her classmates out of her locker. But Clara is faced with conflicting feelings and grief when one of the books she loves is connected to tragedy, making her wonder if it’s better to ban these books than let others read them.
[S. C76282su]

[ZN]

Every Day Is Earth Day

This year, April 22nd marked the 50th Earth Day. The Earth Day Network’s mission is “To build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet.” However, every day can be Earth Day when we care about how our actions affect the planet we live on. Find below several inspirational and educational children’s resources focused on climate change. Learn what we can do to celebrate and save our planet Earth.

For more information on Earth Day, visit the official website: https://www.earthday.org/about-us/

If you’re interested in finding more books about climate change, search the catalog using keywords such as “juvenile fiction” for fiction books, “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books, and an additional term such as “climate change,” “global warming,” or “environmental science.”

Bennett, Jeffrey O.
A Global Warming Science Primer. 2016 (Non-fiction).
Following a Question and Answer format, this book dives deep into the science behind global warming and seeks to debunk some skeptic arguments. Included sections are, “The Basic Science,” “The Skeptic Debate,” “The Expected Consequences,” “The Solution,” and “A Letter to Your Grandchildren.” This book is great for older readers who want to get a better understanding of how global warming occurs.
[S.363.73874 B4394g]

Cole, Joanna
The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge. 2010 (Non-fiction).
In classic Magic School Bus style, Ms. Frizzle and her class explore how global warming is affecting the planet and learn about a large number of ways to take action.
[Q. S.551.6 C6753m]

Collard III, Sneed B.
Hopping Ahead of Climate Change: Snowshoe Hares, Science, and Survival. 2016 (Non-fiction).
Many animals have coats that change color with the seasons in order to better camouflage themselves from predators or prey. With a focus on snowshoe hares, this book seeks to answer what happens when the changing climate disrupts this process.
[Q. S.599.328 C684h]

Eriksson, Ann
Dive in! Exploring our Connection with the Ocean. 2018 (Non-fiction).
As humans, the ocean is incredibly important to us, yet we treat it poorly. This digestible book provides action plans for the individual hoping to help improve the health of the ocean.
[S.551.46 Er46di]

Guiberson, Brenda Z.
Earth: Feeling the Heat. 2010 (Picture Book).
This beautifully illustrated book focuses on specific animals from all over the globe, detailing their particular struggles with climate change that may inevitably lead to their endangerment or extinction. Each page asks, “Who can help?” Readers are left with a list of small changes they can make to reduce energy use, and a prompt to think of even more.
[S.577.276 B94e]

Knowles, Laura
The Coral Kingdom. 2018 (Picture Book).
With beautiful illustrations, this simple rhyming exploration of the coral reefs fosters an appreciation of one of our most delicate ecosystems. Included is additional information on coral bleaching, as well as tips for helping to save the coral reefs.
[Q. SE. K762co]

Oram, Hiawyn
Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing. 2018 (Picture Book).
Greenbackboy wants Snowboy to help him chop down all the trees in the forest and catch all the fish in the ocean in order to acquire KA-CHING. Snowboy is less sure that this plan will work, since trees give us the air we breathe, and the sea is dead without fish. Will Snowboy be able to convince Greenbackboy about what is right? Highlighting the power of the individual voice, this imaginative story is full of hope.
[Q. SE. Or13sn]

Pasquet, Jacques
My Wounded Island. 2017 (Picture Book).
In this story centered on the lives of the Iñupiat people living on a small northern island, a little girl chronicles her fears of the rising sea that will soon swallow the island on which she and her people live. Especially poignant is her grandfather’s worry that once they are displaced, their entire culture will be lost.
[SE. P265m:E]

Swanson, Jennifer
Geoengineering Earth’s Climate: Resetting the Thermostat. 2018 (Non-fiction).
With the changing climate, many possible solutions involving interfering with Earth’s systems have been suggested to counteract the change. This book dives in to the pros and cons of several of these suggestions which include reforestation, space mirrors, and carbon capture.
[S.551.68 Sw247g]

Williams, Lily
If Polar Bears Disappeared. 2018 (Non-fiction)
Follow the chain reaction of what could happen if polar bears go extinct due to the melting of arctic ice. The cute illustrations do not mask the gravity of entire ecosystems being destroyed, however the story does end on a hopeful note, citing that it is not too late for change.
[Q. S.577.09113 W6739if]

[CD]