Hey, girls! The theme of the March/April issue of New Moon Girls magazine is Our Wild World — and what a fun theme to pick books for! I had to cut my list of recommendations by more than half to keep this column from being a mile long — so I hope you enjoy the best of the best picks about animals, adventure, and exploring the wild without leaving your favorite reading chair!
When 12-year-old tech genius Iris hears about Blue55 — a whale who can’t “speak” to other whales — she immediately understands. Because Iris is deaf, people often assume she’s not very smart. In Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly, Iris is determined to find a way to “speak” to Blue55 — even though he’s 3,000 miles away!
Lucy’s marine biologist mom always followed her passion — sharks — right up until she died mysteriously while studying them off the coast of Massachusetts. When Lucy suffers another tragedy on the heels of a great white shark’s arrival on her coast, she throws herself into finishing her mom’s shark research as a way to work through her grief in The Line Tender by Kate Allen.
For more fantastical sea-faring fun, pick up the graphic novel Sea Sirens: A Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee to join Trot and her talking cat Cap’n Bill, who discover a world of sea sirens and sea serpents at war when they wipe out on a big wave while surfing!
Oona was born a disappointment — her father was promised a “bold and brave son” by a fortuneteller, but instead he had another daughter. But Oona isn’t like her six older sisters — she longs for adventure and stows away on her father’s ship as he sets sale for his annual whale hunt in The Girl Who Sailed the Stars by Matilda Woods.
Lizzy loves cats — she’s turned many strays into pets, and she volunteers and does fund-raising for the animal shelter. But when she goes searching for a stray cat in Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl by Susan Lubner, she finds a runaway girl with a tiny four-leaf clover drawn on her hand instead. Believing it’s a sign, Lizzy hides the girl in her closet, hoping she can protect her family from tragedy.
In The Story Web by Megan Frazer Blakemore, the animals have started acting funny. Alice is sure the world is breaking because the Story Web — a gigantic spider web deep in the forest whose strands hold the world together — is in danger. And the only way to fix it is to tell honest stories — even the ones that are difficult to share.
Hopefully your real-life travels will only take you into peaceful territory — and you can start planning with The Atlas Obscura: Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco. The book highlights 100 extraordinary places to visit in 47 different countries, including a spacecraft cemetery in New Zealand, a giant tree house in Tennessee, and mummified monks in Japan. Each page of this guide is a new adventure!
Did you think those cool moving-picture books were only for little kids? Think again and pick up Dinosaur by Dan Kainen and Kathy Wollard. The book features facts on eight dinosaurs, each with an accompanying illustration where you can watch the dinosaurs in motion — trudging along, nibbling the tops off trees, even locked in fights with other dinos — as you turn each page. It doesn’t get much more wild than that!
Between 1955 and 1975, thousands of women and men headed into the jungles of Vietnam for the controversial Vietnam war. Courageous Women of the Vietnam War by Kathryn J. Atwood highlights some of those women’s stories — like Lynda Van Devanter, a war nurse whose experiences were turned into a TV series, or Kate Webb, an international reporter captured by North Vietnamese troops. (If you like the book, make sure to check out the other books in the Women of Action series from Chicago Review Press!)
And of course, you’ll need a place to record all your adventures, whether they happen out in the world or inside your heart. That’s where Truth & Daring: A Journal for the Thoughtful and Bold by Sarah O’Leary Burningham and Sarah Walsh will come in handy. Each page asks you to dig deep into your own truth with questions like “Have you ever been talked into something you didn’t want to do?” and a dare to push you outside your comfort zone, such as calling someone you’ve been thinking about but have been too nervous to call.
What about you? What are YOUR favorite books about our wild world? Have you read any of the books above? Leave your thoughts in a comment below!
Lacey Louwagie is an adult writer and editor who got her first editing job with New Moon Girls in 2002. She is currently an editor for a legal news organization, which means she reads a lot of lawsuits! She has also been a teen services librarian and coordinates book-related goodies for New Moon Girls. She is the author of “Rumpled,” a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin for ages 14 and up, and the co-editor of “Hungering & Thirsting for Justice: True Stories from Young Adult Catholics.”