STORYTIME: Katherine Applegate reads her new middle grade novel Willodeen

Willodeen by Katherine Applegate
Ages 8-12

From #1 New York Times bestseller Katherine Applegate, a singular middle-grade novel about a girl who risks everything to help a handmade creature who comes to life.

The earth is old and we are not, and that is all you must remember . . .

Eleven-year-old Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land: strange beasts known as “screechers.” The villagers of Perchance call them pests, even monsters, but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature.

Lately, though, nature has seemed angry indeed. Perchance has been cursed with fires and mudslides, droughts and fevers, and even the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, has dwindled. For as long as anyone can remember, the tiny animals have overwintered in shimmering bubble nests perched atop blue willow trees, drawing tourists from far and wide. This year, however, not a single hummingbear has returned to Perchance, and no one knows why.

When a handmade birthday gift brings unexpected magic to Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, she’s determined to speak up for the animals she loves, and perhaps even uncover the answer to the mystery of the missing hummingbears.

A timely and timeless tale about our fragile earth, and one girl’s fierce determination to make a difference.


Praise for Willodeen:

“Employing flawlessly simple, candid prose that belies deeper messages, Newbery Medalist Applegate again considers the complex relationship between humans and the natural world. … Fiercely protective Willodeen is easy to champion, and her belief that “nature knows more than we do” is a message worth sharing.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Applegate’s gentle yet honest tale mixes magic with very real environmental messaging, both warning of human-caused harm and pointing to nature’s resilience and interconnectedness… Applegate empowers her young characters by not only granting them courage but also ensuring they earn the respect of their elders.”—Booklist, starred review

“An endearing fable that illuminates the importance of recognizing that all living things serve a purpose in our beautifully complex world and are worthy of care and dignity.” —BookPage


Watch more author storytimes here!

Storytime: Dean Robbins reads Thank You, Dr. Salk!

Join Dean Robbins for a read-aloud of Thank You, Dr. Salk!, an educational and timely nonfiction picture book with illustrations from Mike Dutton.

Thank You, Dr. Salk! The Scientist Who Beat Polio by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Mike Dutton

Jonas Salk wasn’t seen as a brave hero—not at first. As a child he was quiet and unassuming, but Jonas dreamed of tikkun olam, the Jewish phrase for “healing the world.” He saw the polio virus strike his city, and he knew that with determination and hard work, he could be the one to stop its spread. So he grew up to study medicine, ultimately creating the polio vaccine that saved untold numbers of lives—and healed the world!

With Dean Robbins’s inspiring text and Mike Dutton’s dynamic illustrations, Thank You, Dr. Salk! is a true and timely story of trials, triumph, and what it takes to achieve your dreams. An author’s note provides additional insight into Dr. Salk’s life and influences, and the history of vaccines.

Praise for Thank You, Dr. Salk!

“A hardworking title, this is a great choice for allaying vaccination fears, communicating the importance of science and medicine, showing that heroes come in many forms, and explaining that education, creativity, resilience, and dedication can lead to achievements and concrete results. An engaging blend of history, biography, science, and epidemiology that is sure to inspire and inform.” —Booklist

“Robbins’ biography is particularly timely within the context of the coronavirus epidemic, and his direct, streamlined account connects well with early primary listeners, who may take some comfort in knowing that science has managed to get other epidemics under control.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Storytime: Elisha Cooper reads Yes & No


From Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Elisha Cooper comes Yes & No, a timeless tale of friendship, adjusting your perspective, and the joys (and trials) of siblinghood.

Good morning, good morning. It’s time to wake up!

Join a cat and puppy pair through their day—the ups of being fed and romping through grass, and the downs of days that are too short and things that don’t go as planned—as they realize that sometimes the very best thing that can happen is just being together. Take a look inside the book here!


We’re celebrating Five Starred Reviews for YES & NO !

Read a Q&A with Elisha Cooper here! →

Watch author Zetta Elliott read Caldecott Honor Book A Place Inside of Me and check out our Poetry Roundup!

We’ve put together a roundup of titles to get you excited about National Poetry Month, including titles like What the Road Said, Woke: A Young Poet’s Guide to Justice, and Caldecott Honor Book A Place Inside of Me.

Explore more poetry books here!

Storytime: Jason Tharp Reads IT’S OKAY TO BE A UNICORN

In honor of this week’s #BookBirthday of Jason Tharp’s new picture book, It’s Okay to Smell Good!, listen to Jason read from It’s Okay to be a Unicorn!

An inspiring picture book, Jason Tharp’s It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn! features a unicorn pretending to be a horse—until he learns to embrace his true self.

“Tharp’s good-natured fable is bright and rainbow-y… will resonate with any who have felt ‘other.’” —Kirkus Reviews


It’s Okay to Smell Good, the follow-up to his hit picture book It’s Okay to Be a Unicorn, introduces the new, hilarious character: Panda Cat, who lives in a world where smelling bad is a good thing!


Watch more virtual author storytime videos here!

Storytime Kit: Hello, Arnie

Arnie is excited to say hello to all his pastry friends in the bakery. There are all the usual confection suspects: Chocolate, Glazed, French Twist, Long John, and Crueller. But there is one pastry that he’s never met before. This pastry looks nothing like the others. Hmmm. Who could it be? Spoiler alert—it’s the Reader!

This charming picture book introduces children to everyone’s favorite doughnut through a series of questions that the youngest reader will love taking part in.

Download the storytime kit here →

Celebrate Back-to-School with ALL WELCOME HERE!

Download the free All Welcome Here Storytime Kit!

Award-winning children’s book author James Preller teamed up with artist Mary GrandPré (best known for her Harry Potter illustrations) to create All Welcome Here! This essential back-to-school picture book celebrates the first day of school and honors teachers and librarians for all of the hard work you do to establish a welcoming, inclusive, safe space for children in your classroom and library.

Download the Storytime Kit here →

Storytime: Katherine Applegate reads Wishtree

Hear author Katherine Applegate read from her New York Times-bestselling middle grade novel, WISHTREE! This powerful story about acceptance and tolerance is a One Book One Community favorite and a must-share in your classroom or library.

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood. You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever. Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, Wishtree is Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Katherine Applegate at her very best—writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.

Download a Wishtree teacher’s guide and find materials to create a wishtree in your classroom or library at WishtreeBook.com.