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The Best Washington Kids Books

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Wild Orca
Written by Brenda Peterson & illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Mia, her family, and friends gather in the San Juan Islands for Orca Sing, hoping that 105-year-old Granny, the oldest orca, will return with the pods she watches over. Includes facts about Granny and orcas.

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Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
Written by Katherine Applegate & illustrated by Mr. G. Brian Karas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In a spare, powerful text and evocative illustrations, the Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate and the artist G. Brian Karas present the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla. Captured as a baby, Ivan was brought to a Tacoma, Washington, mall to attract shoppers. Gradually, public pressure built until a better way of life for Ivan was found at Zoo Atlanta. From the Congo to America, and from a local business attraction to a national symbol of animal welfare, Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla traveled an astonishing distance in miles and in impact. This is his true story and includes photographs of Ivan in the back matter.

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Good Night, Wheedle
Written by Stephen Cosgrove & illustrated by Robin James
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Toddlers will enjoy this retelling of Stephen Cosgrove’s charming story of Wheedle on the Needle filled with playful rhymes and featuring Robin James’s colorful artwork.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Written by Sherman Alexie & illustrated by Ellen Forney
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-99

The 10th anniversary edition of Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling novel–bonus content included! Sherman Alexie, in his first book for young adults, tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the reservation to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, beautifully written, semi-autobiographical, and coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will continue to make a lasting impression for many years to come. Bonus content to include an introduction from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson, a new author’s note, an excerpt of a sequel from the character Rowdy’s point of view, and more!

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Snowflake Bentley
Written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin & illustrated by Mary Azarian
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied.” – Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)

From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.

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  • Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot - The third book in the fully illustrated, globe-trotting new middle grade fantasy-adventure series about mythical creatures and their cultures of origin, from the Newbery Honor-winning author of The Inquisitor’s Tale. Elliot and Uchenna, along with Jersey, are back for their next adventure with Professor Fauna, searching out and rescuing a new mythical creature.

  • I Survived the Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 1980 - The mountain exploded with the power of ten million tons of dynamite...

  • I Can Make This Promise - In her debut middle grade novel--inspired by her family's history--Christine Day tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family's secrets--and finds her own Native American identity.

  • Tornado Brain - In this heartfelt and powerfully affecting coming of age story, a neurodivergent 7th grader is determined to find her missing best friend before it's too late.

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Our Only May Amelia
Written by Jennifer L. Holm
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The beloved Newbery Honor book by the author of The Fourteenth Goldfish, about a spirited heroine growing up with trying circumstances, a sense of adventure, and tremendous heart. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It's a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.

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For the Love of Autumn
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Tender and sweet: A love story from Polacco. <p> Miss Parks just loves her new home, her new teaching job, and all her new students. But most of all, she loves Autumn, her perfect little kitten. Then one night, during a terrible storm, Autumn runs away. Miss Parks? students band together to search for Autumn?with no luck. Hope is lost until Autumn turns up at Miss Parks? front door with a brand new collar and a bandage on her tail. Someone has been taking care of Autumn! <p> With the help of her students, Miss Parks unravels the mystery of Autumn’s disappearance and finds true love along the way, Polacco style. <p/></p></p>

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Overboard!
Written by Terry Lynn Johnson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
A Sunshine State Award nominee

A high-stakes adventure series perfect for fans of the I Survived series and Hatchet.

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Maribel Versus the Volcano: A Mount St. Helens Survival Story
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

In 1980s Washington state, Mt. St. Helens is rumbling. Twelve-year-old Maribel isn’t concerned at first, despite officials evacuating her neighborhood. Her family is convinced it’s just a precaution, even as the mountain continues to rumble. Maribel decides to disobey orders and return home for items she and her sister left behind - just as the volcano finally erupts. As ash rains down, Maribel realizes she must learn to focus if she’s going to survive.

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The Underground Ghosts: A Super Special
Written by Dori Hillestad Butler & illustrated by Aurore Damant
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8
Edgar Award Winner Dori Hillestad Butler gives us the tenth--and final!--title in her not-too-scary chapter book mystery series, The Haunted Library, in the form of a super special!
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