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California Stories

All of the following titles are either about California or take place in the state. Click on the book cover for location and availability.

Picture Books

The Legend of Freedom Hill
Linda Jacobs Altman
During the California Gold Rush Rosabel, an African American, and Sophie, a Jew, team up and search for gold to buy Rosabel's mother her freedom from a slave catcher.

Alfredito Flies Home
Jose Argueta
Alfredito and his family are getting ready to return to El Salvador for Christmas. It will be their first visit back since they left as refugees and made their way to California on foot. But this time they're flying!

Nine for California
Sonia Levitin
Amanda travels by stagecoach with her four siblings and her mother from Missouri to California to join her father

Novels

Al Capone Does My Shirts
Gennifer Choldenko
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.
Flash Fire
Caroline B. Cooney
As fire sweeps through a canyon near Los Angeles, teenagers Danna and Hall Press and other children whose parents are not around must work together to save themselves.

The Journal of C.J. Jackson: A Dust Bowl Migrant
William Durbin
Thirteen-year-old C.J. record in a journal the conditions of the Dust Bowl that case the Jackson family to leave their farm in Oklahoma and make the difficult journey to California, where they find a harsh life as migrant workers.

 

Walk Across the Sea
Susan Fletcher
In late nineteenth-century California when Chinese immigrants are being drive out or even killed for fear they will take jobs from whites, fifteen-year-old Eliza Jane McCully defies the townspeople and her lighthouse-keeper father to help a Chinese boy who has been kind to her.

Valley of the Moon: The Diary of Maria Rosalia de Milagros
Sherry Garland
The 1845-1846 diary of thirteen-year-old Maria, servant to the wealthy Spanish family which took her in when her Indian mother died. Includes a historical note about the settlement and early history of California.

Charlie's Run
Valerie Hobbs

Hoping to stop his parents' impending separation and keep them from getting a divorce, eleven-year-old Charlie runs away from their house in the California countryside and finds a ride to the coast.

Any Small Goodness
Tony Johnston

Arturo and his family and friends share all kinds of experiences living in the barrio of East Lost Angeles--reclaiming their names, playing basketball, championing the school librarian and even starting their own gang.

Breaking Through
Francisco Jimenez
Having come from Mexico to California ten years ago, fourteen-year-old Francisco is still working in the fields but fighting to improve his life and complete his education.
How I Saved Hanukkah
Amy Goldman Koss
Maria the only Jewish student in her fourth-grade class, wishes she celebrated Christmas like her best friend Lucy until one year when she decides to learn all about Hanukkah and to teach her family too.
Kailey
Amy Goldman Koss
Ten-year old Kailey launches an art protest to keep a developer from spoiling the cove and its tide pools that are special to her and her family and friends. (American Girl Today Series)

Call me Henri
Lorraine M. Lopez
Faced with family problems, difficulty in school and gangs in the barrio, Enrique dreams of some day reaching the "other America" depicted on television, while sympathetic teachers help him cope by supporting his fight to study French instead of ESL.
Path to My African Eyes
Ermila Moodley
When her father gets a new job in Buena Vista, California, fourteen-year-old Thandi Sobukwe struggles to find her true identity between her sometimes ignorant American friends and her past South African culture.

The Wild Girls
Pat Murphy
When thirteen-year-old Joan moves to California in 1972 she becomes friends with Sarah, who is timid at school but an imaginative leader when they play in the woods and after winning a writing contest together they are recruited for an exclusive summer writing class that gives them new insights into themselves and others.

Ruby Electric
Theresa Nelson
Twelve-year-old Ruby Miller, movie buff and aspiring screen writer, tries to resolve the mysteries surrounding her little brother's stuffed woolly mammoth and their father's five year absence.

The Boy Who Saved Baseball
John H. Ritter
The fate of a small California town rests on the outcome of one baseball game, and Tom Gallagher hopes to lead his team to victory with the secrets of the now disgraced player, Dante Del Gato.

Esperanza Rising
Pam Munoz Ryan
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.

The Boys of San Joaquin
D. James Smith
In a small California town in 1951, twelve-year-old Paolo and his deaf cousin Billy get caught up in a search for money missing from the church collection, leading them to complicated discoveries about themselves, other family members and townspeople they thought they knew.
Lord of the Kill
Theodore Taylor
With his parents in India, sixteen-year-old Ben Jepson is in charge of Los Coyotes Preserve, a refuge for big cats near Los Angeles, when two powerful groups try to shut it down by intimidation, murder and kidnapping the largest tiger in captivity.
This Isn't About The Money
Sally Warner
Twelve-year-old Janey tries to adjust in the aftermath of an automobile accident that kills her parents, severely injures her face and forces her and her younger sister to move from Arizona to California to live with their grandfather and great aunt.
Daughter of Madrugada
Frances M. Wood
After the United States wins the war with Mexico in 1848, life on her Mexican family's ranch in California is greatly changed for thirteen-year-old Cesa.
So Totally Emily Embers
Lisa Yee
In a series of letters to absent father, twelve-year-old Emily Embers deals with moving cross-country, her parent's divorce, a new friendship and her first serious crush.
The Earth Dragon Awakes
Laurence Yep
Eight-year-old Henry and nine-year-old Chin love to read about heroes in popular "penny dreadful" novels until they both witness real courage while trying to survive the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
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