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Junonia by Kevin Henkes

Almost ten-year-old Alice Rice loves the family tradition of celebrating her birthdays in a cottage on the Florida beach. This year she has the faintest sense of foreboding, however, as the rental car passes over the bridge. Who will be able to come to her party? And will she finally find the rare and highly-prized junonia shell (featured on the cover)?

In this lovely book, Henkes has perfectly captured the conflicting feelings of a young girl caught between the immaturity of childhood and the growing maturity of adolescence. Front matter includes illustrations of some common Florida seashells.

Highly recommended!

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (April 24, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0061964190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061964190

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

Set in Eatonville, Florida, this is a fictionalized account of author Zora Neale Hurston's childhood related from the viewpoint of her best friend Carrie.

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (December 27, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0763658146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763658144

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

When Turtle's mother finds a much-needed job during the Great Depression, Turtle is sent to the Key West to stay with her aunt.Discover Florida as Turtle discovers herself. This title is a Newbery Honor Book.

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Publisher: Yearling; Dgs Rep edition (December 27, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 037583690X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375836909

The Last Wild Place by Rosa Jordan (2008)

Sixth-grader Chip's feelings of loneliness lead him to find a family of Florida panthers. Can he save them when development threatens?

Carl Hiaasen is well-known for his books set in Florida:

Scat by Carl Hiaasen (2012)

Set in the Florida Everglades, Nick and Marta are trying to find out what happened to their missing biology teacher, as well as what else is going on.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (2005)

A boy discovers new friends and burrowing owls after moving to Coconut Grove, Florida. Hiaasen has written numerous quirky books for adults and this book is also filled with unusual characters.

Adrian Fogelin also has written several books set in the city where she lives, Tallahassee, Florida:

Sister Spider Knows All by Adrian Fodelin (2003)

Roxanne's life is busy because she works at the Tallahassee flea market on the weekends, but her life doesn't feel compete because she doesn't know who her parents are. Will the diary she finds help answer her questions?

Crossing Jordan by Adrian Fogelin and illustrated by Suzy Schultz (2002)

When Jemmie moves in next door, Cassie discovers she likes the same things: running and reading. She also discovers that inter-racial friendships can be frowned-upon in her Tallahassee, Florida neighborhood.

Sam the Sea Cow (Reading Rainbow Books) by Francine Jacobs and illustrated by Laura Kelly (1992)

Picture book that follows the adventures of Sam the manatee (early elementary).

The Yearling (Aladdin Classics) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Probably best for children older than 12, this classic novel is full of the harsh realities of growing up in rural Florida.

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; First Edition edition (September 1, 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 0689846231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689846236


Everglades by Jean Craighead George and illustrated by Wendell Minor(1997)

Parrotfish and Sunken Ships: Exploring a Tropical Reef by Jim Arnosky

Exploring the coral reefs around the Florida Keys.


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Roberta Gibson 2020