Monday, April 22, 2013

What is Eco-Fiction?

Eco-fiction is a work of fiction that reflects the relationship between humans and their natural environment.  In children's literature eco-fiction is present in numerous genres; from chick lit, to fantasy, to realistic.  Below is a list of works of fiction that are considered eco-fiction.


Peak by Roland Smith
After fourteen-year-old, Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper, Peak is given two options: juvenile detention or living with his father.  Peak’s father, the owner of Peak Expeditions, guides hikers up and down Mount Everest.  Peak chooses to be with his father but soon realizes that there are strings attached to choosing his dad over juvenile detention.  Peak’s dad wants him to be the youngest person to climb Mount Everest.  This adventure becomes the biggest adventure of Peak’s life and the most dangerous.  Readers will learn what it is really like to climb Mount Everest and the danger that comes with this adventure. 

Storm runners by Roland Smith
Twelve-year-old Chase Masters and his father are “storm runners.”  They travel around the country following hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.  In the first book in the series, Chase and his dad are near St. Petersburg, Florida, where a hurricane is predicted to hit.  Chase is left to stay with a friend of his fathers, who runs a circus.  There he meets Nicole.  Chase and Nicole get caught in the middle of the hurricane and struggle to survive the storm, and then the damage that releases many dangerous circus animals from their enclosures. 

Animal Stories

One and only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Ivan is a captive gorilla in a mall and video arcade; he is part of a larger exhibit that includes an old elephant named Stella.  Ivan has few memories of his life in the wild and he has chosen to forget in order to survive in captivity.  Ivan has become accustomed to being watched by humans and passes his time watching TV, communicating with Stella and a stray dog, and focusing on his art.  When a new baby elephant is brought into the arcade; Ivan’s world starts to change and memories start coming back to Ivan of his life in the wild.  He knows that big changes are coming but does he have the ability to make these changes happen for the better?

Chick Lit

My life in pink and green by Lisa Greenwald
Twelve year old Lucy misses the day when her family’s pharmacy was a place people wanted to spend their time.  But now it has become a place where people run in for makeup tips and run right back out.  Lucy needs to find a way to save her family’s struggling pharmacy before they lose everything.  After joining a “going green” club at school, Lucy discovers a grant for small businesses looking to go green.  To Lucy this is the best way to try and save her family, but to her bickering mother and grandmother, this is just another distraction from their problems.

Every soul a star by Wendy Mass
Every soul a star takes place at Moon Shadow, an isolated campground, where thousands of people have gathered to catch a glimpse of a rare total eclipse of the sun.  This is also the place where Ally, Bree, and Jack meet for the first time.  Each person is at Moon Shadow for their own reason, whether it was their choice or not.  Each brings with them their own burden and different personality.  This unlikely group navigates through their summer and find that the eclipse helps them to discover the person they are and who they want to be.

Standing for socks by Elissa Brent Weissman
Twelve-year-old, Fara Ross started wearing mismatched socks by accident but discovered that this accident allowed her to stand out in a crowd.  Fara enjoys the attention she receives for standing out, but this eventually becomes a problem when her classmates start caring more about her socks then her ideas about recycling and school fundraising.  Her campaign for sixth-grade class president is not working out as she planned.  Fara has to decide what she cares more about: making a difference, or being cool.


Toby alone by Timothee de Fombelle
Toby Lolness is only 1 ¼ millimeters tall.  Toby and his family are members of the Great Oak Tree community.  They belong to a small world that inhabits an oak tree and have no contact with the outside world.  Toby and his family are in great danger.  Toby’s father has discovered a way to tap into the heart of the tree’s energy but also realizes this ability can be dangerous and cause permanent damage to their world.  Toby’s father refuses to reveal the secrets of his invention to their community. They are imprisoned, except for Toby who escapes.  It is up to Toby to save his family and community from destruction.

White giraffe by Lauren St. John
When Martine loses her family in a house fire, she is sent from England to South Africa to live on a wildlife game preserve with the grandmother she never knew she had.  On the preserve, Martine hears rumors of the existence of the white giraffe but these are believed to be myths.  During a storm one night, Martine discovers the young white giraffe.  She begins to see the giraffe more frequently but only at night and names her new friend Jemmy.  Martine decides to keep Jemmy existence secret because the preserve has been plagued with poachers and being new to the preserve she does not yet trust her grandmother or the staff.  But keeping Jemmy’s secret becomes dangerous with many poachers trespassing on the preserve.



Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Eleven year old Calpurnia Tate (Callie for short.) is growing up in 1899, in a family with six brothers.  Calpurnia lives in a society where girls are raised to be wives and mothers.  Callie’s mother struggles to raise her daughter as a lady when she is continually outside observing her natural world.  Callie’s naturalist grandfather begins to take her under his wing when he discovers her keen observation skills.  Callie shows great promise as a naturalist when she makes a fascinating discovery about grasshoppers.  At the turn of the century, Callie learns what it means to be trapped between two worlds. 

Night of the howling dogs by Graham Salisbury
Dylan is excited to be going on an overnight camping trip at the base of a volcano on the big island of Hawaii.  Dylan is looking forward to camping along the beach.  His excitement passes when he discovers that Louis a tough older boy will be included on their trip.  From the start Dylan and Louie do not get along and the friction they create intensifies as the trip progresses.  During the night an earthquake rocks the camp and is followed by a tsunami that sweeps everyone and everything out to sea.  Dylan and Louie now have no choice but to work together through the night to save their troop.  This story is based on true events that happened to a Boy Scout troop in 1975.

Autumn Winifred Oliver does things different by Kristen O'Donnell Tubb
Autumn Winifred Oliver, an eleven-year-old girl living in Cades Cove, Eastern Tennessee, during the Depression, watches her grandfather as he tries to persuade his neighbors to back the proposed Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  When they discover that the government representative is lying to them, Gramps becomes even more resourceful. 

Long walk to water by Linda Sue Park

This quick read is divided into two alternating stories of two unlikely people that come together in the end.   Sudan is a dry country where water is more precious than gold.  Nya (whose story starts in 2008) walks four hours round trip to fetch water from a pond for her family.  This task must be done twice a day.  Nya’s story reflects the challenge in this simple task.  Salve (whose story begins in 1985) has been separated from his family and driven from his home by war, becomes a refugee and has to cross Africa by foot in search of his family and a safe place to stay.  He endures hardships, armed rebel attacks, and faces lions and crocodiles.  Nya and Sakva’s stories cross paths and intersect in 2009 and water is at the heart of their story.



Girlwood by Claire Dean
Thirteen year old, Polly Greene is most comfortable foraging in the woods with her eccentric grandmother than she is hanging out with her friends.  Polly thinks of the woods as her safe haven until her troubled sister runs away to the woods to escape her problems.   Everyone believes that her sister, Bree is gone, but only Polly believes that Bree is capable of surviving on her own in the winter wilderness.  This story is filled with magic, suspense, and female characters empowered by nature.

Operation Redwoods by Terrell S. French
Julian’s uncle’s company plans to cut down some of the oldest California redwood trees.  Julian discovers his uncle’s plan after coming across an email from a twelve-year-old girl, Robin Elder.  Robin’s email expresses her anger about the beloved redwoods surrounding her home being destroyed.  Together Robin, Julian, and Danny (Julian’s friend) work to stop Julian’s’ uncle from destroying the beautiful redwoods.  This is an exciting ecological adventure with secret trips, fake press releases, tree-house standoffs and many other clever pranks and stunts. 

Night of the spadefoot toads by Bill Harley
Fifth-grader, Ben Moroney has just moved from Tucson, Arizona to Massachusetts.  Ben had to leave behind his best friend, his gecko, and the desert that he loved.  Ben has a hard time adjusting to his new life and environment until he meets his new science teacher, Mrs. Tibbets.  She encourages Ben to explore his new environment and introduces him to the endangered spadefoot toads.  Ben learns that their habitat is about to be destroyed by developers and fights to save them, risking his new friendships, family relationships, school work, and his teachers job. 

Flush by Carl Hiaasen
With their father jailed for sinking a river boat, Noah Underwood and his younger sister, Abbey, must gather evidence that the owner of this floating casino is emptying his bilge tanks into the protected waters around their Florida Keys home.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Roy is new to Coconut Grove, Florida.  He is used to being in a new school, since his parents move a lot.  Roy has difficulty making new friends since the school bully makes Roy his new target.  One day on the bus to school Roy notices a boy his own age running through the woods shoeless.  Roy begins searching for this strange boy and meets Beatrice in the process.  Through Beatrice and the mysterious boy, Roy learns about a colony of burrowing owls that are in danger after their home becomes the construction site of a new pancake house.  Roy begins helping his new friends sabotage the construction site in hope of deterring the construction; but are these games enough to save the owls?

Scat by Carl Hiaasen
Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher; Ms. Starch goes missing after the class field trip to Black Vine Swamp.  Nick and Marta begin to grow suspicions as details about Ms. Starch’s absence don’t add up.  And Smoke, the class delinquent, begins acting strangely suspicious.


Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Wahoo Cray’s father is an animal wrangler in Florida and Wahoo has grown up surrounded by wild animals: alligators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, and snapping turtles.  Life is manageable for Wahoo until his father accepts a job with a reality TV show, Expedition Survival! hosted by Derek Badger.  Wahoo’s family needs the money from this job and Wahoo has to keep his father from quitting or hurting the host, who has no actual experience with wild animals or nature.  Each time Wahoo thinks he has his dad under control the job becomes more complicated.  Once everyone has been moved to location in the everglades, things go from bad to worse when Derek is bitten by a bat then goes missing during a storm. 

Northern exposure by Eric Walters
Kevin Spreekmeester wins a photography contest he does not even remember entering.  The winner of the photography contest wins a five-day trip to Manitoba to photograph polar bears with a world renowned wildlife photographer.  Kevin is excited to get away from school and his parents but has no idea how to properly use a camera.  The photo that won him the contest was an accident caused by a glitch in the shutter.  Kevin could not repeat the accident if he tried.  Once Kevin is in the artic of Canada, he discovers his luggage has been lost and has to borrow supplies from a girl.  Kevin's vacation from school becomes the adventure of his life sprinting across the tundra with a very large, hungry polar bear about to swat him into oblivion.

Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
While her father is in the hospital, thirteen-year-old Isla befriends Harry, a cancer patient in the hospital her father is in. Harry is the first person to understand her love of the outdoors, and as Harry's health fails, Isla tries to help both him and a lone swan they see struggling to fly on the lake outside Harry's hospital window.

One white dolphin by Gill Lewis
When a baby albino dolphin caught in old fishing netting washes ashore, paralympics sailing hopeful Felix and English school girl Kara work with veterinarians and specialists to save and reunite the dolphin with her mother, setting off a chain of events that might just save the reef from the environmental effects of proposed dredging.

Wild wings by Gill Lewis
Callum becomes friends with wild classmate Iona after discovering her trespassing on his parents’ property.  In exchange for allowing her to take fish from his parents’ stream she tells him about a hidden osprey nest on his property.  Ospreys are a rare and endangered bird.  Callum and Iona agree to keep the osprey nest a secret but when their osprey is injured they seek the help of a forest ranger that shows them how to tag the bird so they can track the bird’s migration around the world.  This story crosses continents and connects different cultures in order to save the ospreys. 

Ninth ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
In New Orleans' Ninth Ward, twelve-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, lives with her adopted grandmother.  Lanesha’s grandmother has a strong connection with the spiritual world and acts as a healer for her community, but while she is strong in spirit, she is physically old and frail.  When Lanesha’s grandmother begins having visions of a fast hurricane approaching, Lanesha has no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them. 

 Stop by the North Castle Children's Room to checkout one of these great titles.  Have a suggestion for some other great eco-fiction for kids, please let us know.


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