A child's imagination flourishes when the weather is still warm and more time is spent outside. A good book can be just what that young mind needs to cultivate play, exploration and interaction with nature. Here is a sample of Minnesota authors and/or illustrators that educate, illuminate and fascinate young (and old) minds. Curl up on the couch or bask in the sunshine and absorb the creative words of the authors and beauty of the illustrators. 

Editor Pick!


"What good is a moose?", Agate asks. This sad moose sees magnificence in his friends but feels insignificant in comparison. Joy Morgan Dey sends an important message of the power we have in being different and that there is beauty in us all. Interweaving gems and stones as characters, the book is a feel good lesson in self confidence. Agate feels rough on the outside but with the help of his friends, he realizes that he is a polished jewel on the inside. The breathtaking illustrations of Nikki Johnson add depth to the story; one gets lost in the beauty. 

Used with permission of Lake Superior Port Cities, Inc. 


What's more endearing and heart warming than a child's imagination? The Cookie Garden reminds us that a child's mind is a wonderful and sweet thing. Young Sam, based on author Linda Henry's son, is tired of eating vegetables from the family garden and decides to take action and plant his own garden- a cookie garden! Learning the fine skill of patience and determination, Sam's garden finally grows. The 20 year friendship between Henry and illustrator, Dawn Rossbach, is inspirational and their collaborative efforts provide a creative read for any age. Start up a cookie garden of your own with a creative seed packet included in each book and get growing! 

Used with permission of Linda Henry and Dawn Rossbach


Abe Sauer takes inspiration from a classic to create an up north parody and the illustrations of Nathaniel Davauer are so familiar and reminiscent of the classic bedtime story that you instantly feel connected to the book. Each turn of the page delivers another familiar Minnesota characteristic that it seems unlikely that any were missed. A joyful read for child and adult, Goodnight Loon is a new classic for your collection. 

Used with permission of University of Minnesota Press 


In this compelling book, Kathy-jo Wargin demonstrates how compassion can overcome differences in people and help to bring healing and peace. Her story depicts the age-old Ojibwe version of how Minnesota got its name.  It's the story of an Ojibwe girl, Morning Fawn, who encounters a dying Dakotah boy and instead of leaving him to suffer, she nurses him back to health using his native healing methods. They become friends but because of their tribe's differences, they are forced to separate.  Soon the Ojibwe tribe sickens and it is Morning Fawn who nurses them back to health with the Dakotah healing ingredient of balsam poplar, or Mahnusatia. David Geister beautifully illustrates the story with traditional depictions of history and long-ago landscapes. 

Used with permission of Sleeping Bear Press"

M is for Minnesota

Dori Hillestad Butler portrays life in Minnesota, both past and present, in this intruiging and educational trip through the alphabet. Learn the history of Minnesota from Charles Lindbergh to the Voyageurs of the 1700s and 1800s. Learn about nature from the state's Agriculture to the Timber wolf to the Yellow Lady-Slipper, the state flower. Learn about all the wonderful things that make this state so great! Accompanying the captivating lessons are Janice Lee Porter's beautiful illustrations. This book really captures the heart of Minnesota! A great book for all ages. 

Used with permission of University of Minnesota Press 

Editor Pick!


David LaRochelle writes an enjoyable adventure that keeps you smiling throughout and downright giggling at the end! The illustrations of Mike Wohnoutka are a playful and perfect match to the story. A quick read with only two words but you'll find yourself rereading it over and over again. A guaranteed delight! 

Used with permission of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.


Educational and supremely interesting, Phyllis Root (author) and Betsy Bowen (illustrator) team up to provide a fascinating lesson in one of nature's most fascinating phenomenon- the bog. A unique ecosystem that houses rare animals and unique plants, a bog forms when stagnant water keeps plants from quickly decaying. These dying plants eventually sink and form a mat of peat which slowly makes the water acidic and therefore limits the type of life it can sustain. The methane created by the dying plants rises and pops off the surface of the water in a bog belch. Big Belching Bog delivers a fun way to learn about this ecosystem and the science behind it. There's poetry in the words and peacefulness in the illustrations- a must read for anyone intrigued by the marvelous world we live in. 

Used with permission of University of Minnesota Press 


Rocky and Blossom are the sneakiest of sheep. Their attempts to stray from the flock have led them on great adventures but always end with the wise sheepdog, Murphy, guiding them back to safety. Their curiosity and rebellious disobedience and conniving tricks eventually lead them into a bad situation but with the help of Murphy, they make it out a bit wiser. Chris Monroe incorporates important underlying lessons and his expressive illustrations leave a lasting impression.  

Text and illustrations copyright 2010 by Chris Monroe. Reprinted with the permission of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc