Picture Book Author
Carter G. Woodson Book Award Winner
Travels from: Minneapolis, MN

“I absolutely loved how you so easily got families involved with your story, and I know families really enjoyed it.” — School Visit

Working at the intersection of nature, literature, and culture, Mélina Mangal’s work has been published by Milkweed Editions, Coffee House Press, W.W. Norton, and Carolina Wren Press. She is the author of five biographies for youth, including The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just, winner of the Carter G. Woodson Award. Her book, Jayden’s Impossible Garden,won the first Strive/Free Spirit African American Voices in Children’s Literature contest, was recognized as a Blueberry Honor book by the Evanston Public Library for inspiring love of nature and action for planet earth, was named One of the Best Children’s Books of the Year by Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature, and was nominated for the Minnesota Star of the North Reading Award. Mélina is also a school library media teacher and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.

Jayden’s Impossible Garden

Free Spirit Publishing |

Jayden and a new friend bring nature to the city in this timeless story about a community garden

Amidst all the buildings, people, and traffic in his neighborhood, Jayden sees nature everywhere: the squirrels scrounging, the cardinals calling, and the dandelions growing. But Mama doesn’t believe there’s nature in the city. So Jayden sets out to help Mama see what he sees. With the help of his friend Mr. Curtis, Jayden plants the seeds of a community garden and brings together his neighbors—and Mama—to show them the magic of nature in the middle of the city.

Timeless and vibrant, this story highlights the beauty of intergenerational relationships and the power of imagination and perseverance in bringing the vision of a community garden to life. Jayden’s love of nature will inspire readers to see their environment and surroundings as bursting with opportunities for growth and connection. At the back of the book, readers will find activities to make items found in the book, such as the milk jug bird feeder.

Jayden’s Impossible Garden is the winner of the 2019 African American Voices in Children’s Literature writing contest, cosponsored by Strive Publishing and Free Spirit Publishing, and the recipient of the 2021 Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention, Picture Books, Early Reader (Children’s).

The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just

Millbrook Press (Tm) |
Middle Grade

A must-purchase picture book biography of a figure sure to inspire awe and admiration among readers.–School Library Journal (starred review)

Extraordinary illustrations and lyrical text present pioneering African American scientist Ernest Everett Just.

Ernest Everett Just was not like other scientists of his time. He saw the whole, where others saw only parts. He noticed details others failed to see. He persisted in his research despite the discrimination and limitations imposed on him as an African American. His keen observations of sea creatures revealed new insights about egg cells and the origins of life.

Through stunning illustrations and lyrical prose, this picture book presents the life and accomplishments of this long overlooked scientific pioneer.

Highlighting The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just

Mélina will read her book, lead a discussion about Ernest Everett Just and the book, and answer questions. She will also lead an activity based on the book (decorating paper sand dollars, or microscope comparison, origami sea animal, pipe cleaner sea star, historical research lesson, and/or writing workshop.

Intergenerational Storytime

Mélina will read the book for a public audience, focusing on intergenerational relationships like grandparents and grandchildren. She will also present a Google slides/Powerpoint with a discussion of the book and a recycled gardening activity.

Children’s Storytime

Mélina will read the book along with songs and fingerplays and a related craft/gardening activity.

Writing and/or Research Workshop

Mélina will present a writing workshop focusing on historical research or nature writing.

The Environment as a Social Justice Issue

Mélina will highlight the importance of engaging children in the movement to combat climate change, curating inclusive environmental books for children and presenting a range of ideas and activities that can be used with the titles.

The Minnesota Picture Book | A Twin Cities Book Festival Event

Mélina’s Recent Work

Mélina’s Resources

Mélina’s Blog

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Carter G. Woodson Book Award
NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
Blueberry Honor book by the Evanston Public Library
Foreward Indies Honorable Mention for Picture Books Early Reader
One of the Best Children’s Books of the Year by Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature
Minnesota Star of the North Reading Award Nominee

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

Similar Authors

Picture Book Author
Susan B.
Picture Book & Middle Grade Author
Middle Grade Novelist
Picture Book Author
Award Winning Author

Interested in hosting this author?
Send us a message and an A|U Agent will return to you ASAP!