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California: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about California?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to California. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about California.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about California, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Luckiest Girl to popular sellers like The Call of the Wild to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Tree Lady.

We hope this list of kids books about California can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Top 10 Books About California

#1
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Three Pennies
Written & illustrated by Melanie Crowder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this “tender tale” (School Library Journal, starred review) about last chances and new opportunities. For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—like landing in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her. Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken

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#2
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San Francisco
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Hello, World is an exciting board book series that pairs early learning concepts with colorful, stylish illustrations of cities around the world.

From the Golden Gate Bridge to seals to cable cars, there’s no shortage of bright, bold, and interesting things to count in San Francisco. Explore numbers through the best the city has to offer in this gorgeous board book!

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#3
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A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Written by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder & illustrated by Mary GrandPré
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Fans of How to Train Your Dragon will love this whimsical tale, the first in a series, by a Newbery Honor winner, featuring charming illustrations and pet “training tips” in each chapter.

Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet—a ridiculous notion!

Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie’s sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake’s combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem . . . before it’s too late.

This refreshing debut collaboration by Laurence Yep, a two-time Newbery Honor winner and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner, and Joanne Ryder features illustrations by Mary GrandPré.

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#4
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The Tree Lady
Written by H. Joseph Hopkins & illustrated by Jill McElmurry
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens. Katherine Olivia Sessions never thought she’d live in a place without trees. After all, Kate grew up among the towering pines and redwoods of Northern California. But after becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science, she took a job as a teacher far south in the dry desert town of San Diego. Where there were almost no trees. Kate decided that San Diego needed trees more than anything else. So this trailblazing young woman singlehandedly started a massive movement that transformed the town into the green, garden-filled oasis it is today. Now, more than 100 years after Kate first arrived in San Diego, her gorgeous gardens and parks can be found all over the city. Part fascinating biography, part inspirational story, this moving picture book about following your dreams, using your talents, and staying strong in the face of adversity is sure to resonate with readers young and old.

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#5
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All Aboard California
Written by Kevin Meyers and Haily Meyers & illustrated by Haily Meyers
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

From the creators of BabyLit®: Every area of the world can be mapped out for adventure, and brilliant babies love the sophistication of traveling by train. This new board book series written by the husband and wife team of Haily and Kevin Meyers and illustrated by Haily, celebrates the unique qualities of each city while employing a fun primer element to tell the story. These books will have you and baby seeing the world by train and will turn story time into a globetrotting event. Perfect as a souvenir or as part of a geography collection for brilliant babies, the All Aboard! series will be pulling into your station next!

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#6
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The Colossus of Roads
Written & illustrated by Christina Uss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Eleven-year-old Rick Rusek is determined to improve the traffic conditions in Los Angeles– his parent’s failing delivery catering service, Smotch, depends on it.

Rick Rusek’s stomach has a lot to say. It’s got opinions on tasty foods, not-so-tasty foods, and how driving in traffic-jammed Los Angeles makes it roil, boil, gurgle, and howl. It never meant to earn its owner the nickname Carsick Rick or make him change schools for fifth grade. It’s doing the best it can.

Rick has a lot to say back to his stomach. In fact, his stomach is the only one he can talk to about his favorite subject: the mighty power of road signs. Rick sees how shifting these bold, beautiful signs announcing STOP, LEFT TURN ONLY, SPEED LIMIT 35, and ROAD WORK AHEAD could improve all the traffic problems in Los Angeles. Too bad his talent for sketching maps that show how to fix everything doesn’t seem to interest or impress anyone else.

When his parents’ catering business teeters on the verge of ruin, Rick wants to prove his talent for noticing small details can make a big difference. He’ll need help from his unicorn-loving Girl Scout neighbor, the Department of Transportation, a renowned street artist, plus the best driver in LA. He’ll have to fight back against snarled streets, graffiti vandals, and other people’s very wrong ideas about traffic.

If Rick can successfully move the 330,000 slow-moving cars standing in the way of his family’s future, maybe everyone will see that he’s not Carsick Rick. He’s one of the seven wonders of Los Angeles. He’s the Colossus of Roads.

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#7
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Smoky Night
Written by Eve Bunting & illustrated by David Diaz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Eve Bunting’s heartfelt story and David Diaz’s dramatic illustrations create a compelling child’s-eye view of urban violence. A young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment during a night of rioting in Los Angeles. Fires and looting force neighbors—who have always avoided one another—to come together in the face of danger and concern for their missing pets. David Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his bold acrylic paint and photo-collage illustrations.

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#8
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The Tiger's Apprentice
Written by Laurence Yep
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

Soon to be an animated movie!

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#9
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A to Z Mysteries Super Edition #12: Space Shuttle Scam
Written by Ron Roy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose tackle an out-of-this-world mystery--in the twelfth A to Z Mysteries Super Edition!
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#10
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Land of the Cranes
Written by Aida Salazar
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
From the prolific author of The Moon Within comes the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story in verse of a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees.
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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about California and...

Books About California and San Francisco

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Three Pennies
Written & illustrated by Melanie Crowder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this “tender tale” (School Library Journal, starred review) about last chances and new opportunities. For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—like landing in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her. Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken

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A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Written by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder & illustrated by Mary GrandPré
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Fans of How to Train Your Dragon will love this whimsical tale, the first in a series, by a Newbery Honor winner, featuring charming illustrations and pet “training tips” in each chapter.

Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet—a ridiculous notion!

Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie’s sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake’s combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem . . . before it’s too late.

This refreshing debut collaboration by Laurence Yep, a two-time Newbery Honor winner and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner, and Joanne Ryder features illustrations by Mary GrandPré.

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Mike Mulligan and More: A Virginia Lee Burton Treasury
Written by Virginia Lee Burton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
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Honorable Mentions
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  1. Field Trip Mysteries: The Crook Who Crossed the Golden Gate Bridge - In San Francisco on a field trip, Gum Shoo and his friends get caught up in a wave of pickpocketing.

  2. The Unbreakable Code (The Book Scavenger series) - Could books hidden through the Book Scavenger game be linked to an arsonist’s web of destruction? Find out in the New York Times-bestselling second book in the action packed Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.

  3. The Unbreakable Code - Could books hidden through Book Scavenger be linked to an arsonist’s web of destruction? Find out in Book 2 of Jennifer Bertman’s Book Scavenger series. Mr. Quisling is definitely up to something mysterious, and Emily and James are on high alert. First, there’s the coded note he drops at a book event. Then they uncover a trail of encrypted messages in Mark Twain-penned books hidden through Book Scavenger. What’s most suspicious is that each hidden book triggers a fire. As the sleuthing friends dig deeper, they discover Mr. Quisling has been hunting a legendary historical puzzle: the Unbreakable Code. This new mystery is irresistible, but Emily and James can’t ignore the signs that Mr. Quisling might be the arsonist. The clock is ticking as the fires multiply, and Emily and James race to crack the code of a lifetime. A Christy Ottaviano Book

  4. Book Scavenger - Just after twelve-year-old Emily and her family move to San Francisco, she teams up with new friend James to follow clues in an odd book they find, hoping to figure out its secrets before the men who attacked Emily’s hero, publisher Garrison Griswold, solve the mystery or come after the friends.

Books About California and Chinese Culture

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The Tiger's Apprentice
Written by Laurence Yep
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

Soon to be an animated movie!

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Dragon Hoops
Written by Gene Luen Yang
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 14-18

In his latest graphic novel, Dragon Hoops, New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches.

Gene understands stories–comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.

But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.

Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well.

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Lily and the Great Quake: A San Francisco Earthquake Survival Story
Written by & illustrated by Alessia Trunfio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Lily is a twelve-year-old Chinese American girl living in San Francisco’s Chinatown when an earthquake destroys her home and sets her neighborhood on fire. Separated from her parents, Lily must help her younger brother and neighbor escape San Francisco. As the city burns, Lily struggles to keep her group close as they face peril and racism. Will Lily be reunited with her parents and make it across the bay to the safety of Oakland? Readers can learn the real story of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake from the nonfiction backmatter in this Girls Survive story. A glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts are also provided.

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  1. Front Desk - Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. <p/>Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. <p/>Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. <p/>Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? <p/>It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams? <p/>Featuring exclusive bonus content!

  2. The Dragon Warrior - Inspired by Chinese mythology, this high-action middle-grade fantasy follows an outcast as she embarks on a quest to prove herself–perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret. As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret. Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year. With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny? This richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.

  3. Mountain Chef - The true story of a Chinese American mountain man who fed thirty people for ten days in the wilderness–and helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service. Tie Sing was born in the mountains. The mountains were in his blood. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time in America when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. But he had bigger plans. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California. When millionaire Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men–writers, tycoons, members of Congress, and even a movie star–to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook. Tie Sing planned diligently. He understood the importance of this trip. But when disaster struck–twice!–and Tie Sing’s supplies were lost, it was his creative spirit and quick mind that saved the day. His sumptuous menus had to be struck and Tie Sing had to start over in order to feed the thirty people in the group for ten whole days. His skills were tested and Tie Sing rose to the challenge. On the last night, he fed not just the campers’ bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created by Congress on August 25, 1916. Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.

  4. Tiger Magic -

    Tom has always been a reluctant apprentice. But since his grandmother's death, he's assisted the tiger Mr. Hu in guarding the magical phoenix egg. When the phoenix hatches prematurely, Tom faces his greatest challenge of all. The phoenix believes Tom is his mother, and suddenly it's Tom's turn to be a good teacher and parent, which is especially hard when your child has the power to destroy the earth.

    A full-blown war has erupted between evil Lord Vatten's troops and the Alliance led by Mr. Hu. Tom and his motley crew of friends are in for the battle of their lives--and the hardest part may be keeping their allies united in the fight.

    In this exciting conclusion to the Tiger's Apprentice trilogy, Laura Ingalls Wilder Award recipient and two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep reveals the ultimate strength of loyalty, friendship, and family and how the true power of magic is knowing when to use it.

Books About California and Science

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The Tree Lady
Written by H. Joseph Hopkins & illustrated by Jill McElmurry
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens. Katherine Olivia Sessions never thought she’d live in a place without trees. After all, Kate grew up among the towering pines and redwoods of Northern California. But after becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science, she took a job as a teacher far south in the dry desert town of San Diego. Where there were almost no trees. Kate decided that San Diego needed trees more than anything else. So this trailblazing young woman singlehandedly started a massive movement that transformed the town into the green, garden-filled oasis it is today. Now, more than 100 years after Kate first arrived in San Diego, her gorgeous gardens and parks can be found all over the city. Part fascinating biography, part inspirational story, this moving picture book about following your dreams, using your talents, and staying strong in the face of adversity is sure to resonate with readers young and old.

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A to Z Mysteries Super Edition #12: Space Shuttle Scam
Written by Ron Roy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose tackle an out-of-this-world mystery--in the twelfth A to Z Mysteries Super Edition!
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Tall Tall Tree
Written & illustrated by Anthony D. Fredericks
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“High in a redwood tree is an unseen world of all kinds of animals. Readers will meet them through rhyming verses as they count them 1 to 10”–

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  1. Redwoods - Jason Chin's Redwoods tells the story of a boy who discovers a book about redwoods and finds himself in their midst as he turns the pages. An ordinary train ride becomes and extraordinary trip to the great ancient forests. A ordinary subway trip is transformed when a young boy happens upon a book about redwood forests. As he reads the information unfolds, and with each new bit of knowledge, he travels--all the way to California to climb into the Redwood canopy. Crammed with interesting and accurate information about these great natural wonders, Jason Chin's first book is innovative nonfiction set within a strong and beautiful picture storybook. Chin's approach makes Redwoods a must-have common core tool for teachers and librarians introducing scientific principals to young students.

  2. Stretch to the Sun - The tallest known tree on earth is located in Redwood National Park in northern California. More than twelve hundred years old, it is approximately 380 feet tall–and still climbing! The tree in this book sprouted, flourished, and survived ecological threats for over twelve hundred years before being discovered by tall-tree researchers. The coast redwood tree provides a unique ecosystem for the many plants and animals in its tree canopy and managed to survive extensive harvesting by loggers nearby. Discovered in 2006, the tree’s location is kept secret to protect it.

Want to see books about science?

Books About California and Family Life

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The Colossus of Roads
Written & illustrated by Christina Uss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Eleven-year-old Rick Rusek is determined to improve the traffic conditions in Los Angeles– his parent’s failing delivery catering service, Smotch, depends on it.

Rick Rusek’s stomach has a lot to say. It’s got opinions on tasty foods, not-so-tasty foods, and how driving in traffic-jammed Los Angeles makes it roil, boil, gurgle, and howl. It never meant to earn its owner the nickname Carsick Rick or make him change schools for fifth grade. It’s doing the best it can.

Rick has a lot to say back to his stomach. In fact, his stomach is the only one he can talk to about his favorite subject: the mighty power of road signs. Rick sees how shifting these bold, beautiful signs announcing STOP, LEFT TURN ONLY, SPEED LIMIT 35, and ROAD WORK AHEAD could improve all the traffic problems in Los Angeles. Too bad his talent for sketching maps that show how to fix everything doesn’t seem to interest or impress anyone else.

When his parents’ catering business teeters on the verge of ruin, Rick wants to prove his talent for noticing small details can make a big difference. He’ll need help from his unicorn-loving Girl Scout neighbor, the Department of Transportation, a renowned street artist, plus the best driver in LA. He’ll have to fight back against snarled streets, graffiti vandals, and other people’s very wrong ideas about traffic.

If Rick can successfully move the 330,000 slow-moving cars standing in the way of his family’s future, maybe everyone will see that he’s not Carsick Rick. He’s one of the seven wonders of Los Angeles. He’s the Colossus of Roads.

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Holes in the Sky
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Miss Eula is back! In this heartwarming companion to Chicken Sunday, young Trisha is devastated when her grandmother passes away, but finds joy in bonds with a new friend, her new California neighborhood--and the invincible Miss Eula.
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Echo
Written by Pam Muñoz Ryan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

2016 Newbery Honor Book
New York Times Bestseller

An impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force from a treasured storyteller!

Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, Echo pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation to create a wholly original novel that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

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  1. Indian No More - When Regina's Umpqua tribe is legally terminated and her family must relocate from Oregon to Los Angeles, she goes on a quest to understand her identity as an Indian despite being so far from home.

  2. Any Day with You - A warm, tender story about a creative girl who hopes that by winning a filmmaking contest, she'll convince her great-grandfather not to move back home to the Philippines. For fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Kelly Yang.

  3. A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight - Jen White's A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight is a sensitively-written middle grade novel about a girl struggling with anxiety, family secrets, and the meaning of friendship. Cora is constantly counting the minutes. It's the only thing that stops her brain from rattling with worry, from convincing her that danger is up ahead. Afraid of the unknown, Cora spends her days with her feet tucked into sand, marveling at La Quinta beach's giant waves and her little sister Sunshine's boundless energy. And then danger really does show up at Cora's doorstep--her absentee uncle, whose sudden presence in the middle of the night makes her parents nervous and secretive. As dawn breaks once more, Cora must piece together her family and herself, one minute at a time. A Thousand Minutes to Sunlight is an endearing and revelatory middle-grade novel that is perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree.

  4. My Life as a Gamer - Derek Fallon gets the chance of a lifetime when he is asked to test software for new video games, but he soon discovers that his dream job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Books About California and Travel

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123 California
Written by Puck & illustrated by Kevin Somers
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4

Using some of California’s most beloved symbols, including the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hollywood sign, this clever introduction to counting features bold contemporary illustrations.

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San Francisco
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Hello, World is an exciting board book series that pairs early learning concepts with colorful, stylish illustrations of cities around the world.

From the Golden Gate Bridge to seals to cable cars, there’s no shortage of bright, bold, and interesting things to count in San Francisco. Explore numbers through the best the city has to offer in this gorgeous board book!

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Los Angeles is . . .
Written by Elisa Parhad & illustrated by Alexander Vidal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-4

Los Angeles is . . . surfing waves and fashion faves, citrus fruits and long commutes, lowrider cruising and poolside snoozing, zipping cars and Hollywood stars. From taco trucks to tar pits, this stylish primer to California’s City of Angels, illustrated by Alexander Vidal, is spot-on for toddlers and first-time travelers.

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  1. Be Our Guest! - From Gray Malin, New York Times bestselling photographer of Beaches, comes Be Our Guest!, Malin’s first children’s picture book, compiled from his acclaimed series of photographs at the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs. Welcome to the Parker Hotel, where you’ll experience a delightful time away, filled with everything you’d expect from a sunny, California vacation. There’s tennis courts and a lemonade stand, a gorgeous pool, and a lawn for croquet. But, the other guests and staff are more than a little unexpected . . . If Eloise had lived in an animal-only hotel, it would have had the style and whimsy of the Parker. Just reading Be Our Guest! will whisk children away on a temporary holiday, which is nothing less than extraordinary.

  2. Hannah Is My Name - “Based on her own immigration story, Yang’s offering is a winner — a spot-on depiction of the immigration experience in America.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS It’s a long way from Taiwan to San Francisco, but Hannah’s family has made the journey because they want to make America their home. In America, Baba tells his daughter, people are free to say what they think, and children can grow up to be whatever they choose. As Hannah takes a new name, starts a new school, learns a new language, and adjusts to a new way of life, they all wait — and hope — for the arrival of the green cards that will assure they are finally home to stay.

  3. Good Night San Francisco - Good Night San Francisco highlights the San Francisco Bay, sea lions, Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Lombard Street, Stow Lake, Conservatory of Flowers, Cliff House, sandy beaches, Aquarium, Exploratorium, historic ships, fishing boats, Palace of Fine Arts, <i>The Thinker</i> statue, and more. What could be more exciting for young readers than touring the fascinating city of San Francisco? Children will be lulled into a peaceful night’s sleep while visiting the city’s famous landmarks and attractions. <p/>This book is part of the bestselling Good Night Our World series, which includes hundreds of titles exploring iconic locations and exciting, child-friendly themes. <p/>Many of North America’s most beloved regions are artfully celebrated in these board books designed to soothe children before bedtime while instilling an early appreciation for North America’s natural and cultural wonders. Each book stars a multicultural group of people visiting the featured area’s attractions as rhythmic language guides children through the passage of both a single day and the four seasons while saluting the iconic aspects of each place.

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Books About California and Social Themes

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Smoky Night
Written by Eve Bunting & illustrated by David Diaz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Eve Bunting’s heartfelt story and David Diaz’s dramatic illustrations create a compelling child’s-eye view of urban violence. A young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment during a night of rioting in Los Angeles. Fires and looting force neighbors—who have always avoided one another—to come together in the face of danger and concern for their missing pets. David Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his bold acrylic paint and photo-collage illustrations.

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Land of the Cranes
Written by Aida Salazar
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
From the prolific author of The Moon Within comes the heart-wrenchingly beautiful story in verse of a young Latinx girl who learns to hold on to hope and love even in the darkest of places: a family detention center for migrants and refugees.
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The Karate Kid
Written & illustrated by Kim Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When The Karate Kid appeared in theaters in 1984, its heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship between a bullied boy and his karate teacher won over audiences and inspired children across America to take up martial arts. Now this beloved film is reimagined as a Pop Classics picture book, with Kim Smith’s bright and kid-friendly illustrations capturing all of the story’s iconic moments. Young Daniel moves to a new town and becomes the target of bullies from the local karate dojo Cobra Kai. Hoping to win the upcoming karate tournament, Daniel begs his neighbor Mr. Miyagi to help him train. Mr. Miyagi reluctantly agrees. But he becomes more than just Daniel’s sensei by teaching him lessons about patience, balance, and hard work along the way. This timeless story about finding inner strength will enchant children, their parents, and anyone who has ever had that one special teacher.

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  1. The Rainbow Flag: Bright, Bold, and Beautiful - Flags are brilliant and clever works of art and design, and they bring people together under a common banner. This colorful story follows a group of friends who helped dye and sew strips of cloth to create the first Rainbow Flags for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978. Led by a young artist named Gilbert Baker, the friends set out to create a flag that people could march behind during the Pride Parade. They knew the flag needed to be bright, in order to be seen by everyone as they marched. It needed to be bold, to lead the crowd. And it needed to be beautiful, like the love celebrated by the parade! The result is an iconic flag that has become an international symbol of the gay pride movement.

  2. Esperanza Rising - Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.

Books About California and Siblings

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Al Capone Does My Shirts
Written & illustrated by Gennifer Choldenko
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards’ families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister Natalie. A Newbery Honor Book & ALA Notable Book. Reprint. Jr Lib Guild & Children’s BOMC.

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Efrén Divided
Written by Ernesto Cisneros
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“We need books to break open our hearts, so that we might feel more deeply, so that we might be more human in these unkind times. This is a book doing work of the spirit in a time of darkness.” –Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

Efrén Nava’s Amá is his Superwoman–or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved.

But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn’t return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México.

Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family.

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Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border
Written by Mitali Perkins & illustrated by Sara Palacios
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

From award-winning author Mitali Perkins and illustrator Sara Palacios comes Between Us and Abuela, a timely debut picture book about love overcoming the border fences between Mexico and the United States.

It's almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico.

For the few minutes they can share together along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven't seen in years. But when Juan's gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea. She makes it into a kite that soars over the top of the iron bars.

Here is a heartwarming tale of multi-cultural families, and the miracle of love.

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  1. Al Capone Does My Homework - Alcatraz Island in the 1930s isn’t the most normal place to grow up, but it’s home for Moose Flanagan, his autistic sister, Natalie, and all the families of the guards. When Moose’s dad gets promoted to Associate Warden, despite being an unlikely candidate, it’s a big deal. But the cons have a point system for targeting prison employees, and his dad is now in serious danger. After a fire starts in the Flanagan’s apartment, Natalie is blamed, and Moose bands with the other kids to track down the possible arsonist. Then Moose gets a cryptic note from the notorious Al Capone himself. Is Capone trying to protect Moose’s dad too? If Moose can’t figure out what Capone’s note means, it may be too late.

  2. Dog-Friendly Town - Josephine Cameron’s A Dog-Friendly Town is a delightful middle-grade cozy caper sure to excite dog-lovers and gentle mystery readers alike! Twelve-year-old Epic McDade isn’t ready for middle school. He’d rather help out at his family’s dog-friendly bed n’ breakfast all summer, or return to his alternative elementary school in the fall, where learning feels safe. But change comes in all shapes and fur colors. When Carmelito, California is named America’s #1 Dog-Friendly Town, all the top dogs and their owners pour into Epic’s sleepy seaside neighborhood for a week of celebration. The McDades are in dog heaven with all the new business until a famous dog’s jewel-encrusted collar goes missing. Every guest is a suspect, and Epic will have to embrace new friends and new ideas to sniff out the culprit before the week is through.

  3. One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street - When a mysterious man arrives one day on Orange Street, the children who live on the block try to find out who he is and why he’s there. Little do they know that his story–and the story of a very old orange tree–connects to each of their personal worries in ways they never could have imagined. From impressing friends to dealing with an expanding family to understanding a younger sibling’s illness, the characters’ story lines come together around that orange tree.
    Taking place over the course of a day and a half, Joanne Rocklin’s masterful novel deftly builds a story about family, community, and the importance of connection. In the end the fate of the tree (and of the kids who care for it) reminds us of the magic of the everyday and of the rich history all around us.

  4. Love, Penelope - Penny is excited to welcome her new sibling, so throughout her mom’s pregnancy she writes letters to it (not it, YOU!). She introduces herself (Penelope, but she prefers “Penny”) and their moms (Sammy and Becky). She brags about their home city, Oakland, California (the weather, the Bay, and the Golden State Warriors) and shares the trials and tribulations of being a fifth-grader (which, luckily, YOU won’t have to worry about for a long time). Penny asks little questions about her sibling’s development and starts to ask big questions about the world around her (like if and when her moms are ever going to get married “for real”). Honest, relatable, and full of heart, Love, Penelope explores heritage, forgiveness, love, and identity through the eyes (and pen) of one memorable 10-year-old in a special year when marriage equality and an NBA championship made California a place of celebration.

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Books About California and Science And Nature

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Love, Agnes: Postcards from an Octopus
Written by Irene Latham & illustrated by Thea Baker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-8

Agnes has a beak that can crush bones and arms and stretch wide as a car―but that doesn’t make her a monster! After she comes across a postcard, Agnes, a giant Pacific octopus, strikes up a correspondence with various other creatures below―and above―the waves. Readers will delight in this unlikely introduction to the octopus life cycle.

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Oliver: The Second-Largest Living Thing on Earth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This story tackles the familiar feeling of being in someone's shadow--in a hilarious and endearing way. Readers will be able to relate to Oliver as he stretches his limbs in winter, lifts logs in spring, soaks up the sun in summer, and munches on mulch in autumn, trying to grow big enough to be noticed. Set in Sequoia National Forest, this story will appeal to national park visitors as well as kids who love nature and clever humor.

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Trapped! A Whale's Rescue
Written by Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

In the icy waters of the Pacific, a massive humpback whale unexpectedly finds herself tangled in a net abandoned by fishermen. When a rescue boat and a convoy of divers arrive to help the struggling humpback, a realistic and moving encounter bridges the human and aquatic worlds.

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  1. Condor Comeback - Sibert Medalist, National Book Award Honoree, and New York Times best-selling author Sy Montgomery turns her formidable talents to the story of California condors and the scientists who have fought against their extinction in this installment in the award-winning Scientists in the Field series.

  2. Earthquake in the Early Morning - An adventure that will shake you up! That’s what Jack and Annie get when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to California in 1906. As soon as they arrive, the famous San Francisco earthquake hits the city. Can Jack and Annie save the day? Or will San Francisco be destroyed first?

Books About California and Culture

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April Fools' Fiasco
Written by Ron Roy & illustrated by John Steven Gurney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Celebrate 20 years of A to Z Mysteries! No foolin'!
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Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things
Written by Wendelin Van Draanen & illustrated by Brian Biggs
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

While on her first hiking and camping trip, thirteen-year-old Sammy tries to solve a mystery involving endangered condors while avoiding scorpions, ticks, and embarrassment.

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A to Z Mysteries Super Edition 1: Detective Camp
Written by Ron Roy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

Z was just the beginning! With A to Z Mysteries(R) Super Editions, chapter book readers keep on collecting clues and solving mysteries with Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose. Now with over 8 million copies in print, this classic kid-favorite series is back with a bright new look!

Welcome to summer camp for detectives! The kids can't wait to spend a week following clues and learning about the science of crime solving. Soon all the campers are working on a mystery. But while Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose are figuring out their part of the puzzle, they stumble onto something suspicious. Could a real crime be happening at detective camp?

Look for hidden messages inside A to Z Mysteries(R) Super Editions!

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  1. Jump Again! More Adventures of Brer Rabbit - Continues the lighthearted adventures and antics of the crafty Brer Rabbit, who outsmarts all the colorful inhabitants of Hominy Grove.

  2. A Hitch at the Fairmont - An intrepid boy teams up with Alfred Hitchcock himself in this rollicking mystery rife with action, adventure, intrigue, and all the flavor of film noir. After the mysterious death of his mother, eleven-year-old Jack Fair is whisked away to San Francisco’s swanky Fairmont Hotel by his wicked Aunt Edith. There, he seems doomed to a life of fetching chocolates for his aunt and her pet chinchilla. Until one night, when Aunt Edith disappears, and the only clue is a ransom note written…in chocolate? Suddenly, Jack finds himself all alone on a quest to discover who kidnapped Aunt Edith and what happened to his mother. Alone, that is, until he meets an unlikely accomplice—Alfred Hitchcock himself! The two embark on a madcap journey full of hidden doorways, secret societies, cryptic clues, sinister villains, and cinematic flair. Including an author’s note about the real Hitchcock and an appendix of film references, this “fine read” is a “love letter to all that Hitchcock stood for” (Kirkus Reviews).

  3. The Call of the Wild - Life is good for Buck in Santa Clara Valley, where he spends his days eating and sleeping in the golden sunshine. But one day a treacherous act of betrayal leads to his kidnap, and he is forced into a life of toil and danger. Dragged away to be a sledge dog in the harsh and freezing cold Yukon, Buck must fight for his survivial. Can he rise above his enemies and become the master of his realm once again? With an inspirational introduction by award-winning author Melvyn Burgess, The Call of the Wild is one of the twenty wonderful classic stories being reissued in Puffin Classics in March 2015.

Books About California and Multicultural

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Choosing Sides
Written by Alex Morgan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From FIFA World Cup Champion, Olympic gold medalist, and bestselling author Alex Morgan comes the ninth book in an empowering and fun-filled middle grade series that inspired the Amazon original series, The Kicks! After an easy win against the Roses, Devin is reminded of how the Kicks were playing when she first joined and how far they have come since then. Devin runs into Sasha, a summer league teammate of hers, who confides that the Roses’ coach doesn’t seem to care that they’re losing and asks Devin for help. She invites the Roses to a weekend soccer clinic that the Kicks are going to. But when the eighth graders find out that Devin is helping another team in their league, they are not pleased and accuse Devin of helping the competition—especially when the Roses begin to win. Meanwhile, Zoe and Emma haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye, and their friendship seems to be in trouble, putting Devin and Jessi in the middle of their fights. When they begin to disrupt the Kicks’ practices, Devon knows she has to do something. Can Devin prove to her team and her friends that she’s not playing favorites or choosing sides?

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Saving the Team
Written by Alex Morgan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

From star soccer player and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan comes the <i>New York Times </i>bestselling first book in an empowering, fun-filled middle grade series about believing in yourself and working as a team. <p/>Twelve-year-old Devin loves to play soccer. If she hadn’t just left Connecticut to move across the country, she would have been named seventh-grade captain on her school soccer team. <p/>But now that Devin is starting seventh grade in Kentville, California, all bets are off. After all, some of the best players on the US national team come from California. She’s sure to have stiff competition. Or so she thinks. <p/>When Devin shows up for tryouts, she discovers that the Kentville Kangaroos–otherwise known as the Kicks–are an absolute mess. Their coach couldn’t care less whether the girls win or lose. And Devin is easily one of the most talented players. <p/>The good news is, Devin quickly makes friends with funny, outgoing Jessi; shy but sweet Zoe; and klutzy Emma. Can Devin and her newfound friends pull together and save the team from itself?<i></i>

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The Only Black Girls in Town
Written by Brandy Colbert
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
Award-winning YA author Brandy Colbert's debut middle-grade novel about the only two black girls in town who discover a collection of hidden journals revealing shocking secrets of the past.

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  1. The Secret of the Puzzle Box - The Code Busters are excited for their class field trip to Angel Island, known as the Ellis Island of the West. One of Mika's ancestors passed through the island's immigration station in the early twentieth century, and Mika thinks he may have left behind some secret messages . . . plus a very special box. But as the Code Busters search for hints from the past, they get caught up in an even bigger secret.

    Can you crack the code? Test your brain with the Code Busters to see if you have the right stuff to be an ace detective. Answers are in the back, in case you get stuck.

  2. The Haunted Lighthouse - An infamous prison may hold a secret only the Code Busters can uncover.

    Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. may all have different talents, but they share one thing in common: they love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much, they have their own club, with a secret hideout and passwords that change every day. When Cody and her friends get a mysterious e-mail hinting at a treasure on Alcatraz Island, they can't wait to get started on their clue hunt. Luckily, a class trip to the prison is the perfect cover to start their search. During the tour, the club members learn that a jewel thief kept at Alcatraz may have hidden his biggest haul on the island and left a series of coded messages to find it. And solving puzzles is what the Code Busters do best! This interactive mystery features more than fifteen codes and puzzles for you to decipher along with the Code Busters, including Morse code, the tap code, LEET, and zigzag code. Answers are in the back, if you ever get stuck.

  3. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer - Fans of Katherine Applegate and Erin Entrada Kelly will love this quirky story of a determined girl, and some extraordinary chickens.

Books About California and 1900-1949

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Write to Me
Written by Cynthia Grady & illustrated by Amiko Hirao
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Dear Miss Breed . . .”

A touching story about Japanese American children who corresponded with their beloved librarian while they were imprisoned in World War II internment camps.

When Executive Order 9066 is enacted after the attack at Pearl Harbor, children’s librarian Clara Breed’s young Japanese American patrons are to be sent to prison camp. Before they are moved, Breed asks the children to write her letters and gives them books to take with them. Through the three years of their internment, the children correspond with Miss Breed, sharing their stories, providing feedback on books, and creating a record of their experiences. Using excerpts from children’s letters held at the Japanese American National Museum, author Cynthia Grady presents a difficult subject with honesty and hope.

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A Scarf for Keiko
Written by Ann Malaspina & illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

It's 1942. Sam's class is knitting socks for soldiers and Sam is a terrible knitter. Keiko is a good knitter, but some kids at school don't want anything to do with her because the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and her family is Japanese American. When Keiko's family is forced to move to a camp for Japanese Americans, can Sam find a way to demonstrate his friendship?

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I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 (I Survived #5)
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
The terrifying details of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake jump off the page!
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  1. The Camping Trip That Changed America - Caldecott medalist Mordicai Gerstein captures the majestic redwoods of Yosemite in this little-known but important story from our nation’s history. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt joined naturalist John Muir on a trip to Yosemite. Camping by themselves in the uncharted woods, the two men saw sights and held discussions that would ultimately lead to the establishment of our National Parks.

  2. Under the Ashes - Eleven-year-old Elizabeth “Littlebeth” Morgan would rather race the boys, chase skunks, and read about bandits than act like a lady. So her parents send her to her maiden aunt in San Francisco to be tamed and refined. But when an earthquake hits and she’s separated from her aunt, Littlebeth must use her fearless nature and quick-thinking to survive in a city that’s broken and burning.

  3. Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh - Nine-year-old Maria Singh learns to play softball just like her heroes in the All-American Girls' League, while her parents and neighbors are struggling through World War II, working for India's independence, and trying to stay on their farmland.

  4. War and Millie McGonigle - The Newbery Award-winning author of Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice tells a heartfelt and humorous story of WWII on the homefront.

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Books About California and 21st Century

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I Survived the California Wildfires, 2018
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
California continues to be ravaged by devastating wildfires. Lauren Tarshis's heart pounding story tells of two children who battle the terrifying flames and -- despite the destruction -- find hope in the ashes.
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Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice
Written by Nikki Grimes & illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discover the incredible story of a young daughter of immigrants who would grow up to be the first woman, first Black person, and first Indian American ever elected Vice President of the United States in this moving picture book biography of Kamala Harris.

When Kamala Harris was young, she often accompanied her parents to civil rights marches–so many, in fact, that when her mother asked a frustrated Kamala what she wanted, the young girl responded with: “Freedom!”

As Kamala grew from a small girl in Oakland to a senator running for president, it was this long-fostered belief in freedom and justice for all people that shaped her into the inspiring figure she is today. From fighting for the use of a soccer field in middle school to fighting for the people of her home state in Congress, Senator Harris used her voice to speak up for what she believed in and for those who were otherwise unheard. And now this dedication has led her all the way to being elected Vice President of the United States.

Told in Nikki Grimes’s stunning verse and featuring gorgeous illustrations by Laura Freeman, this picture book biography brings to life a story that shows all young people that the American dream can belong to all of us if we fight for one another.

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Epic Athletes: Stephen Curry
Written by Dan Wetzel & illustrated by Zeke Peña
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Dan Wetzel tells the electric story of NBA superstar Steph Curry, beginning a new series of sports biographies for young readers! When you think of Stephen Curry, one word comes to mind: greatness. From shooting three-pointers with laser precision to his clutch ability to hit buzzer-beaters time and again, he has established himself as one of the best players in the pro basketball. But greatness was never a guarantee for Steph. The son of a talented NBA player, he dreamed of one day playing professionally just like his dad. Yet Steph, who was always smaller and weaker than the competition, was told over and over that he would never be talented enough to be a college star or NBA player–let alone the MVP of the entire league. Through tenacity and hard work, he proved them all wrong and went on to dismantle the record books. With the high energy of a TV commentator, and featuring dynamic comic-style illustrations, this engaging biography tells the story of an NBA All-Star and the path he took to achieve his dreams.

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  1. Shooting Kabul - "A powerful read." --Ahmed Rashid, New York Times Bestselling author of Taliban

  2. A Life Made by Hand - Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D’Aquino brings Asawa’s creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators.

Books About California and Alcatraz

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Where Is Alcatraz?
Written by Nico Medina and Who HQ & illustrated by David Groff
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The island of Alcatraz has always been a place that’s fascinated visitors, from the Native American tribes who believed it was home to evil spirits to the Spanish explorers who discovered the island. In modern times, it was a federal prison for only 29 years, but now draws over a million visitors each year. Learn the history of America’s most famous prison, from its initial construction as a fort in the 1800s, to its most famous residents such as Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly. Where Is Alcatraz? also chronicles some of the most exciting escape attempts—even one that involved chipping through stone with spoons and constructing rafts out of raincoats!

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The Alcatraz Escape
Written by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman & illustrated by Sarah Watts
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14

Sleuthing duo Emily and James engage in a literary escape-room challenge on Alcatraz Island, but soon find that an invisible enemy is trying to sabotage the team at any cost.

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Breakout! Escape from Alcatraz
Written by Lori Haskins & illustrated by Janet Hamlin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An easy-to-read study of Alcatraz, “The Rock,” describes how America’s renowned prison housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals.

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  1. The Children of Alcatraz - Offers a look at the life of the children who grew up on this infamous island with their families throughout its long and diverse history as a military prison, maximum security prison, and site of a Native American uprising, enhanced with period photos, interviews, and first-hand accounts.

  2. Escape from Alcatraz - What’s more exciting than a prison break? Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin escaped from Alcatraz in 1962 and have never been caught. Many authorities are certain they died crossing San Francisco Bay. Relatives claim they made it to Brazil. The theories of what happened to them are endless. Find out the facts from people who dealt with the men and the case first-hand. This is one mystery you’ll definitely want to solve.

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Books About California and 19th Century

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Camp Time in California
Written by Mary Pope Osborne & illustrated by A.G. Ford
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
The #1 bestselling Magic Tree House series is ready to whisk you away through time with Jack and Annie--this time to the Yosemite National Park!
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Donner Dinner Party: A Pioneer Tale
Written by Nathan Hale
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 11-17
Discover the shocking and true story of the ill-fated Donner Party expedition with the New York Times bestselling graphic novel series!
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By the Great Horn Spoon
Written by Sid Fleischman & illustrated by Brett Helquist
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
For fans of the I Survived series, this classic rollicking adventure about the California Gold Rush and one determined twelve-year-old has sold nearly a million copies!
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  1. Marching With Aunt Susan - An inspiring story of the fight for women’s suffrage, based on the experiences of a real girl All Bessie wants is to go hiking with her father and brothers. But it’s 1896, and girls don’t get to hike. They can’t vote either, which Bessie discovers when Susan B. Anthony comes to town to help lead the campaign for women’s suffrage. Stirred to action, Bessie joins the movement and discovers that small efforts can result in small changes–and maybe even big ones. Inspired by the diary of the real Bessie Keith Pond, a ten-year-old girl who lived in California during the suffrage campaign, author Claire Rudolf Murphy and illustrator Stacey Schuett offer a thought-provoking introduction to the fight for women’s rights. A story of hope and determination, Marching with Aunt Susan reminds readers that society cannot evolve unless people–even young people–dare to take a stand

  2. John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall - The now iconic figure John Muir, while living at the base of Yosemite Falls in California, ventures up the trail from his cabin one night and has a harrowing waterfall adventure. Back matter roots the story in Muir’s life’s work as a conservationist and naturalist.

Books About California and Girls And Women

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Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation
Written by Duncan Tonatiuh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book and a 2015 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

Praise for Separate is Never Equal
STARRED REVIEW**S**
“_Tonatiuh masterfully combines text and folk-inspired art to add an important piece to the mosaic of U.S. civil rights history.”
–_Kirkus Reviews
, starred review

“Younger children will be outraged by the injustice of the Mendez family story but pleased by its successful resolution. Older children will understand the importance of the 1947 ruling that desegregated California schools, paving the way for Brown v. Board of Education seven years later.”
School Library Journal, starred review

“Tonatiuh (Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote) offers an illuminating account of a family’s hard-fought legal battle to desegregate California schools in the years before Brown v. Board of Education.”
Publishers Weekly

“Pura Belpré Award-winning Tonatiuh makes excellent use of picture-book storytelling to bring attention to the 1947 California ruling against public-school segregation.”
Booklist

“The straightforward narrative is well matched with the illustrations in Tonatiuh’s signature style, their two-dimensional perspective reminiscent of the Mixtec codex but collaged with paper, wood, cloth, brick, and (Photoshopped) hair to provide textural variation. This story deserves to be more widely known, and now, thanks to this book, it will be.”
The Horn Book Magazine

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Rating Your Bunkmates and Other Camp Crimes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Twelve-year-old Abigail Hensley is a socially awkward aspiring anthropologist who has always had trouble connecting with her peers. Abigail is hopeful that a week at sleepaway camp is the answer to finally making a friend. After all, her extensive research shows that summer camp is the best place to make lifelong connections. Using her tried-and-true research methods, Abigail begins to study her cabinmates for friendship potential. But just when it seems that she is off to a good start, her bunkmate’s phone gets stolen, and Abigail is the main suspect. Can she clear her name, find the real culprit, and make a friend before the week is done?

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Puma Dreams
Written by Tony Johnston & illustrated by Jim LaMarche
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A girl visiting her grandmother longs for a glimpse of the solitary and rarely seen puma. Her grandmother tells her that if she’s patient, one day her wish will come true. But patience is hard, the girl thinks. So, the girl and her grandmother stand watch each day, and then finally, without warning, she sees the beautiful animal from afar. Knowing she may never see a puma again, she now knows it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect these increasingly threatened animals.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. One Crazy Summer - In this Newbery Honor novel, New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. “This vibrant and moving award-winning novel has heart to spare.” Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She’s had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer. This moving, funny novel won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Coretta Scott King Award and was a National Book Award Finalist. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern’s story continues in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama. Readers who enjoy Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming will find much to love in One Crazy Summer. This novel was the first featured title for Marley D’s Reading Party, launched after the success of #1000BlackGirlBooks. Maria Russo, in a New York Times list of “great kids’ books with diverse characters,” called it “witty and original.” Brightly, in Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich’s article “Knowing Our History to Build a Brighter Future: Books to Help Kids Understand the Fight for Racial Equality”

  2. The Luckiest Girl - Falling in Love . . . Shelly fells as if she’s living in a fantasyland. She’s spending the school year in southern California, where flowers bloom in November, oranges grow on trees, and lawns are mowed in winter. When the star of the basketball team smiles at her, Shelly feels as if she’s been touch by magic. Now she’s about to discover the magic of falling in love! A bittersweet story of first love from one of America’s most beloved children’s authors.

  3. Blue Willow - To Janey Larkin, the blue willow plate was the most beautiful thing in her life, a symbol of the home she could only dimly remember. Now that her father was an itinerant worker, Janey didn’t have a home she could call her own or any real friends, as her family had to keep moving, following the crops from farm to farm. Someday, Janey promised the willow plate, with its picture of a real house, her family would once again be able to set down roots in a community. <p/><i>Blue Willow </i>is an important fictional account of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, and has been called <i>The Grapes of Wrath</i> for children. It won a Newbery Honor and many other awards.

Books About California and Friendship

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Saving Emma the Pig
Written by John Chester & illustrated by Jennifer Meyer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Welcome to Apricot Lane Farm, a unique world full of true stories about heartwarming animals’ relationships and the special people who care for them. When Emma the pig arrives at the Apricot Lane Farm, she is about to give birth to piglets. But she is also sick, and after her seventeen babies arrive, Emma is unable to care for them. Taking care of seventeen piglets and a sick mama pig are a challenge for Farmer John and his team. But the cure for Emma reminds them what is most important—for pigs and for humans: love and friendship.

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Summer of a Thousand Pies
Written by Margaret Dilloway
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A heartfelt contemporary middle grade novel about a girl who must try to save her aunt’s failing pie shop, perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish, Fish in a Tree—and The Great British Baking Show. When Cady Bennett is sent to live with the aunt she didn’t even know she had in the quaint mountain town of Julian, she isn’t sure what to expect. Cady isn’t used to stability, after growing up homeless in San Diego with her dad. Now she’s staying in her mother’s old room, exploring the countryside filled with apple orchards and pie shops, making friends, and working in Aunt Shell’s own pie shop—and soon, Cady starts to feel like she belongs. Then she finds out that Aunt Shell’s shop is failing. Saving the business and protecting the first place she’s ever really felt safe will take everything she’s learned and the help of all her new friends. But are there some things even the perfect pie just can’t fix? Summer of a Thousand Pies is a sweet and satisfying treat of a novel full of friendship, family, and, of course, pie.

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Center of Gravity
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In Shaunta Grimes' middle-grade novel Center of Gravity, a girl loses her mom, and her dad remarries quickly, so she must rebuild her life and friendships.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. Lucky for Good - The residents of Hard Pan, California, come together to help Brigitte and Lucky when the County Health Department threatens to close down the cafâe, and meantime Miles’s life is complicated by his mother’s return.

  2. Hope Is a Ferris Wheel - After moving from Oregon to a trailer park in California, ten-year-old Star participates in a poetry club, where she learns some important lessons about herself and her own hopes and dreams for the future.

  3. Lucky Breaks - Things are fairly normal in Hard Pan, population forty-three. But to Lucky, fairly normal means fairly boring, and she’s restless. Just in the nick of time, she meets a potential new best friend named Paloma, who happens to be visiting Hard Pan with her uncle, a geologist. And before she knows it, Lucky gets stuck in a well, meets up with a wild burro, discards something she didn’t know was precious, does something unexpectedly cruel, and learns a couple of the secrets of the universe.

  4. The Higher Power of Lucky - Lucky, age 10, can’t wait another day. The meanness gland in her heart and the crevices full of questions in her brain make running away from Hard Pan, California (population 43), the rock-bottom only choice she has. It’s all Brigitte’s fault for wanting to go back to France. Guardians are supposed to stay put and look after girls in their care! Instead, Lucky is sure that she’ll be abandoned to some orphanage in Los Angeles where her beloved dog, HMS Beagle, won’t be allowed. She’ll have to lose her friends: Miles, who lives on cookies, and Lincoln, future U.S. president (maybe) and member of the International Guild of Knot Tiers. Just as bad, she’ll have to give up eavesdropping on 12-step anonymous programs, where the interesting talk is all about Higher Powers. Lucky needs her own “higher power” - and quick. But she hadn’t planned on a dust storm, or needing to lug the world’s heaviest survival-kit backpack into the desert.

Books About California and Places And Regions

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Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
Written by Jessica Kim
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.
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House That Lou Built
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
"If this book were a house, the rooms would be filled with warmth, family, and friendship." --Erin Entrada Kelly, author of the Newbery Medal winner Hello, Universe; The Land of Forgotten Girls; and Blackbird Fly

A coming-of-age story that explores culture and family, forgiveness and friendship, and what makes a true home. Perfect for fans of Wendy Mass and Joan Bauer.

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Me, Frida
Written by Amy Novesky & illustrated by David Diaz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Like a tiny bird in a big city, Frida Kahlo feels lost and lonely when she arrives in San Francisco with her husband, the famous artist Diego Rivera. It is the first time she has left her home in Mexico. And Frida wants to be a painter too.<p></p><br> <p></p><br> But as Frida begins to explore San Francisco on her own, she discovers more than the beauty, diversity, and exuberance of America. She finds the inspiration she needs to become one of the most celebrated artists of all time.<p></p><br> <p></p><br> <i>Me</i><i>, </i><i>Frida</i> is an exhilarating true story that encourages children to believe in themselves so they can make their own dreams soar. <p/></p>Praise for <i>Me, Frida</i><br>”The writing is lucid, the emotions are universal, and the illustrations soar. Glowing with warm, vibrant colors, the charcoal and acrylic paintings create distinctive, statuesque people within imaginatively conceived landscapes, cityscapes, and interiors.” -<i>Booklist </i>

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. This Time Will Be Different - A Kirkus Reviews Best Book * A 2020 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection

  2. Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 - Over the years the earth has moved many times under San Francisco. But it has been thirty-eight years since the last strong earthquake. People have forgotten how bad it can be. But soon they will remember.

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