Young Adult Fiction with Environmental Themes

My “Call for Book Recommendations” is somewhat out of date but it explains the rest of the page so I have left it as it was. The article it mentions was published in Viewpoint Vol 20/2, Winter 2012, and at present (Feb. 2013) I am just passively collecting recommendations for future reference.

Call for Book Recommendations – 2011

I’m working on an article about Young Adult fiction with environmental themes, for a review magazine which serves (I believe) mainly school librarians.

There are lots of books for very young readers and I know quite a lot of older, mostly foreign, books for teenage-adult readers (Le Guin, etc) but I don’t know enough recent novels for the 10 – 15 year old age group so I would really like your suggestions – and it’s even better if the authors are Australian.

You may remember a similar request a few months ago. This article is my response to realising that I didn’t know enough then to help a teacher who came to me for recommendations.

What I’ve got here already is only a beginning but may at least jog your memory. You can contribute by email or through the ‘Comment’ form on this page (‘moderation’ is painless – it is just a way of avoiding spammers).


  • 1. Closeness or spiritual connection to natural world
  • 2. Conservation activism/protecting the environment
  • 3. Post-apocalyptic settings – but only where the disaster was environmental.


  • A. Picture books / under 8
  • B. Young readers 6 – 9
  • C. Pre-teens 9 – 12
  • D. Younger teens 12 – 15
  • E. Mid-teens – adult

Fiction Titles – the beginnings of a list

  • Jeannie Baker – Where the Forest Meets the Sea 1 A (
  • One Less Fish 2 A
  • Aboriginal myths and legends often 2
  • The Lake at the End of the World 3
  • Lucy Christopher – Flyaway C, D
  • The Man Who Planted Trees 2 (war veteran in Europe)
  • The Blue Feather E (set for Yr 12 English but read and enjoyed a couple of years earlier)
  • Carl Hiaasen – novels specially for YA 2 D
  • Le Guin – The Word for World is Forest E  Plot is very similar to Avatar.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson – Forty Signs of Rain trilogy 2, 3 E briefly discussed here.
  • Carl Hiaasen – most of his novels 2 E

Nonfiction which may be worth mentioning

  • Heller: Whale Warriors non-fic but a great yarn and still relevant to current affairs.
  • Last Chance to See


21 thoughts on “Young Adult Fiction with Environmental Themes”

  1. May I suggest two YA books with environmental activists themes carried to the extreme: Nokosee: Rise of the New Seminole ( and its sequel Nokosee & Stormy: Love & Bullets ( are written from a 17-year-old girl’s POV. These coming-of-age tales come with lots of action, adventure and romance layered over a twisted save-the-environment plea.

    1. Thanks, Alice, they are just the kind of book I’ve been looking for and I will try to track them down. The setting reminds me, of course, of Carl Hiaasen’s books. Age-wise, they slot in neatly between his children’s books (Flush, Hoot, etc) and his adult fiction, but the descriptions you have linked to suggest these books don’t play for laughs the way he does.

    1. Hello, Claire,
      Thanks for your comments. I have looked at your links and approve entirely: exactly the sort of thing I was (and still am, sort of) looking for. The ‘sort of’ comes from the fact that the article mentioned at the top of the pages is due very soon and is almost finished … and is too long. On the other hand, anything that doesn’t make it into the article will turn up somewhere else in due course (some of it already has – see The Shaman’s Quest).
      When the article is finished I will come back to this page with updates. Meanwhile, you may like to explore two other lists –

      On World Environment Day each year, the Wilderness Society announces the winner of its Environment Awards for Children’s Literature, for fiction and non-fiction in the categories of picture book, primary readers and secondary readers. More recent awards are at but not easy to find.
      In the US, the Newton Marasco Foundation presents a very similar set of awards, listed here.
      All the best,

  2. Thank you for your listing of books and websites. I am encouraging librarians and bookstores in my city—Birmingham, Alabama—to post lists and to stock books with environmental themes for kids and young adults. Keep up the good work!

  3. Check out the book MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN, which comes out on June 11, 2013. Publisher is Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House). It won the 30th Annual Delacorte Prize for a First YA Novel.

    “We live by the best landfill ever. I flipped my dirt bike there once. Plus I’ve got a sketchbook full of uranium monsters. My friend Cornpup likes to show off the weird bumps on his back for a dollar. And Charlie, he’ll drink red creek water on a dare.”

    Rocked by his father’s recent death and his mother’s sudden compulsion to overeat, Jason lashes out by breaking into the abandoned mills and factories that plague his run-down town. Always by his side are his two best friends, Charlie, a fearless thrill junkie, and Cornpup, a geek inventor whose back is covered with cysts. The boys rage against the noxious pollution that suffocates their town and despise those responsible for it; at the same time, they embrace the danger of their industrial wasteland and boast about living on the edge.

    Then one night the boys vandalize one of the mills. Jason makes a costly mistake—and unwittingly becomes a catalyst for change. In a town like his, change should be a good thing. There’s one problem: change is what Jason fears most of all.

      1. Hi Malcolm,
        Just wanted to let you know my eco-fierce YA debut, MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN (Random House 2013) just went on sale on June 11th. It was inspired by my short stay in western New York near an extremely toxic town. I joined a local fight against a landfill that was leaking radiation into a nearby creek, and I even wrote the first outline of this novel while parked in my car at the foot of an ominous, snow-covered landfill, just so I could breath the air and feel the fear. The book has been called “THE OUTSIDERS of a green generation” and I’m really excited to spread the word! hope you get a chance to check it out. Thanks again for your blog! Much love,
        Author, MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN (Random House, 2013)
        Winner, Delacorte Prize for a First YA Novel

        1. Thanks, Corina, and I hope your book does well. I will look out for it here but it may take a while to reach this side of the world.

  4. My first book, the ghost shirt, available on Amazon Kindle is an Eco-lit book for Children and YA. Aimed at the crossover market it is based on Scottish and Native American folklore but set in the present day. Angus and his sister must bring together the legendary Warriors of the Rainbow to stop the destruction of the Sioux spirit realms. The realms are under attack by miners looking for sacred salt to power computer games on earth.
    The Ghost Shirt was chosen by the publishers Harper and Collins for review on their Authonomy program in November 2012.
    The second book in this series, The Tiger Farm, is currently being planned.

  5. Sysco, the Worst Disaster Ever Created, is the first book in the ongoing Sysco Series by R.M. McNutt. The series revolves around three teenagers with extraordinary abilities and traumatic pasts involving industrial pollution and science gone evil. The series takes place mainly in Atlantic Canada, especially in the infamous Sydney Tar Ponds, which in real life are still under cleanup.

  6. Hi Malcolm,

    What a great idea. I just thought I should put forward my Australian YA novel of a couple of years ago, As Stars Fall. It was longlisted for the CBCAs, and is accompanied by a PhD I’m doing in ecocriticism and creative writing. The novel uses as its driving force the process of recovery after disturbance, both ecological and emotional. It covers species extinction, grief, fire ecology, and a range of ideas drawn from environmental philosophy.

    Anyway, I thought you might be interested even though it is too late for your article.

    All the best,

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