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The Best Minnesota Kids Books

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On the Banks of Plum Creek
Written by Laura Ingalls Wilder & illustrated by Garth Williams
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The adventures of Laura Ingalls and her family continue as they leave their little house on the prairie and travel in their covered wagon to Minnesota. Here they settle in a little house made of sod beside the banks of beautiful Plum Creek. Soon Pa builds a wonderful new little house with real glass windows and a hinged door. Laura and her sister Mary go to school, help with the chores, and fish in the creek. At night everyone listens to the merry music of Pa’s fiddle. Misfortunes come in the form of a grasshopper plague and a terrible blizzard, but the pioneer family works hard together to overcome these troubles. And so continues Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved story of a pioneer girl and her family. The nine Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America’s frontier past and a heartwarming, unforgettable story.

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The Triple Play Twins
Written by David A. Kelly & illustrated by Mark Meyers
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Batter up! Baseball action and exciting whodunits star in this chapter book series! Next up is Minnesota! Mike and Kate travel to Minneapolis to meet the Minnesota Twins’ star players: Marco and Pedro, a dynamic twin duo known for their signature triple plays. But after a water balloon attack on the players and a suspect on the run, questions start to pile up. Is someone trying to mess with Marco and Pedro’s chances of making the playoffs? As Mike and Kate investigate, they meet Polly and Molly, twin Minnesota locals who lend a helping hand–or two. With new friends by their side, can Mike and Kate solve this mystery? <p/>Ballpark Mysteries are the all-star matchup of fun sleuthing and baseball action, perfect for readers of Ron Roy’s A to Z Mysteries and Matt Christopher’s sports books, and younger siblings of Mike Lupica fans. Each Ballpark Mystery also features Dugout Notes with more amazing baseball facts.

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Home of the Brave
Written by Katherine Applegate
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A man I helped to settle here taught me a saying from Africa. I’ll bet you would like it: A cow is God with a wet nose. Kek comes from Africa where he lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived. Now she’s missing, and Kek has been sent to a new home. In America, he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter—cold and unkind. But slowly he makes friends: a girl in foster care, an old woman with a rundown farm, and a sweet, sad cow that reminds Kek of home. As he waits for word of his mother’s fate, Kek weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his new friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country.

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The Adventures of Laura & Jack
Written by Laura Ingalls Wilder & illustrated by Ji-Hyuk Kim
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Laura Ingalls and her bulldog, Jack, have been together for as long as she can remember—and he’s no ordinary dog.

Join the original pioneer girl in this Little House chapter book, adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved classics. Illustrated with beautiful new black-and-white artwork, this repackaged edition includes bonus material such as games, activities, and more!

Jack travels with Laura and her pioneer family all the way from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to the West. He protects them from wolves, cattle that go astray, and sometimes even a friendly neighbor. And he can always help Laura find her way home.

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Daisy and the Deadly Flu: A 1918 Influenza Survival Story
Written by & illustrated by Matt Forsyth
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In 1918, fourteen-year-old Daisy’s family has fallen on hard times. Her sister Elsie’s fiance was recently deployed to fight in World War I, and her father’s newspaper was forced to shut down for criticizing the U.S. entrance into the war. When the Spanish Flu arrives in her small town in Minnesota, Daisy tries to shield her loved ones from the devastating illness. As the influenza pandemic sweeps through the nation, can Daisy protect those closest to home? Featuring nonfiction support material, a glossary, and reader response questions, this Girls Survive story takes readers to one of history’s most important moments.

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  • Betsy-Tacy - There were lots of children on Hill Street, but there were no little girls Betsy’s age. So when a family moved into the house across the street, Betsy hoped they would have a little girl she could play with. Sure enough, they did. The girl’s name was Tacy, and after a while she and Betsy became such good friends that everybody thought of them as one person - Betsy-Tacy. <P>Betsy-Tacy did all kinds of things. They made a playhouse from a piano box. They went to their first day of school together and even sat in the same seat. They rode in the milkman’s wagon. And Betsy made up wonderful stories that they kept as their own special secrets. Then they met Tib, who came to share in their games. <P>Ever since their first publication in the 1940s, the Betsy-Tacy stories have been loved by each generation of young readers.

  • Kirsten Learns a Lesson - Kirsten starts school in America, but she doesn’t speak English very well. Miss Winston, her new teacher, is strict and not very understanding. Things get worse when Miss Winston comes to live with the Larson family. Kirsten’s only escape is playing with her secret friend, Singing Bird. When Singing Bird suggests running away forever, Kirsten must decide where she belongs. Kirsten does learn some important lessons in school, but she learns something even more important about herself.

  • Goodnight Loon - A charming retelling of a children’s classic in a distinctly Northwoods voice There’s a loon, of course. And a Duluth pack. And crop art, Tater Tot hotdish, and, inevitably, deer ticks. The familiar green room is set on a pontoon, lit by the moon over a quiet lake. The childhood classic Goodnight Moon is transformed into a must-have for every Minnesota child’s bookshelf. Written and illustrated by two fathers who value good rhymes and the power of simple, evocative illustrations, Goodnight Loon moves the story that so many parents know by heart into Northwoods territory. Author Abe Sauer and illustrator Nathaniel Davauer created this book as a tribute to the cherished favorite written by Margaret Wise Brown. Their faithful homage brings fresh life to a much-loved story. The words rhyme, rock, and soothe with the same cadence as the original. Yellow canoes, snowshoes, and a hungry raccoon all make appearances in the room inhabited by a beaver in a sleeping bag and his voyageur companion. Illustrations inspired by the style of Goodnight Moon will give even the youngest child something to search for on every page. It is the perfect bedtime book for babies, children, and parents looking for a story written especially for their Northwoods little ones. And where else will you find walleye eating rhubarb pie?

  • Rooting for Rafael Rosales - In the Dominican Republic, a boy who dreams of playing professional baseball in the United States crosses paths with a young environmentalist from Minneapolis who is passionate about saving bees.

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The Lost Girl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Three starred reviews

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Meet Kirsten
Written by Janet Shaw
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Kirsten Larson and her family arrive in America in 1854, after a long sea voyage. Everything looks so different from the life Kirsten knew back in Sweden–the ways people talk and dress seem strange! Getting lost in a big city and parting with her best friend only add to Kirsten’s worry. Will she ever feel at home here? It is only when the Larsons arrive at a tiny farm on the edge of the frontier that Kirsten believes Papa’s promise–America will be a land filled with opportunity for them all.

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Soldier's Heart
Written by Gary Paulsen
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-17

In June 1861, when the Civil War began, Charley Goddard enlisted in the First Minnesota Volunteers. He was 15. He didn’t know what a shooting war meant or what he was fighting for. But he didn’t want to miss out on a great adventure. <BR>The shooting war turned out to be the horror of combat and the wild luck of survival; how it feels to cross a field toward the enemy, waiting for fire. When he entered the service he was a boy. When he came back he was different; he was only 19, but he was a man with soldier’s heart, later known as battle fatigue.

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Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life
Written by Shelley Tougas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

A life on the prairie is not all its cracked up to be for one girl whose mom takes her love of the Little House series just a bit too far. Charlotte’s mom has just moved the family across the country to live in Walnut Grove, “childhood home of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Mom’s idea is that the spirit of Laura Ingalls will help her write a bestselling book. But Charlotte knows better: Walnut Grove is just another town where Mom can avoid responsibility. And this place is worse than everywhere else the family has lived—it’s freezing in the winter, it’s small with nothing to do, and the people talk about Laura Ingalls all the time. Charlotte’s convinced her family will not be able to make a life on the prairie—until the spirit of Laura Ingalls starts getting to her, too.

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Hungry Johnny
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“I like to eat, eat, eat,” choruses young Johnny as he watches Grandma at work in the kitchen. Wild rice, fried potatoes, fruit salad, frosted sweet rolls–what a feast! Johnny can hardly contain his excitement. In no time, he’ll be digging in with everyone else, filling his belly with all this good food.<br /><br />But wait. First there is the long drive to the community center. And then an even longer Ojibwe prayer. And then–well, young boys know to follow the rules: elders eat first, no matter how hungry the youngsters are. Johnny lingers with Grandma, worried that the tasty treats won’t last. Seats at the tables fill and refill; platters are emptied and then replaced. Will it ever be their turn? And will there be enough?<br /><br />As Johnny watches anxiously, Grandma gently teaches. By the time her friend Katherine arrives late to the gathering, Johnny knows just what to do, hunger pangs or no. He understands, just as Grandma does, that gratitude, patience, and respect are rewarded by a place at the table–and plenty to eat, eat, eat.

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  • Dancing Carl (Reissue) - In the winter, life in McKinley, Minnesota, revolves around the rinks, where kids play hockey and grown-ups skate to scratchy phonograph records. Then, the year Marsh and his best friend, Willy, are twelve, Carl appears at the rink, wearing a battered, old leather flight jacket and doing a strange dance that is both beautiful and disturbing to watch. <p/> It is Marsh and Willy who discover the terrible secret behind Carl’s dance, a secret that threatens to destroy him. But a small miracle occurs, and Carl’s dance becomes a fragile and tentative expression of hope and the healing power of love.

  • Molly Gets a Goat (and Wants to Give it Back) - Molly who lives in New York City, and Olive who lives on a farm in Iowa are email friends, and both think that the other would be in serious trouble if they exchanged places–so they make a bet, and while Olive is getting totally lost in Minneapolis, Molly is at a farm in upstate New York desperately trying to milk a goat.

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