Children's Books​​​​​​​​​​

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If you are looking for autographed books for a gift, Debbie can personally inscribe all books below, except those that are in yellow boxes (which are out of print). To order a signed copy(ies), please email Debbie at debbiesmiller@hotmail.com with your requested inscription. For personally autographed copies, Debbie can accept payment via PayPal, personal check or Venmo and will provide an invoice via email. Click here for a price list. 

NEWEST BOOK

 

Two thousand miles is a staggering distance for any kind of journey. But imagine making it not by car or even foot—but by fin. That’s what faces Chinook, a female king salmon, as she takes a dramatic trip to safely deliver her eggs. From the Bering Sea, up the Yukon River, and on to the Nisutlin River, A King Salmon Journey takes young readers on an engaging ride through the waters of Alaska and Canada, bringing to life the biology—and mystery—of one of the world’s most popular fish. Based on the story of a real-life Chinook, this beautifully illustrated book deftly combines science with a fast-paced tale of survival and perseverance. 

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"Grizzly Bears of Alaska celebrates these giants with fascinating facts and vivid photos by one of Alaska's most prominently published nature photographers."

 

 

-Publishers Weekly

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 2013  Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children by the National Science Teachers Association and Children's Book Council.​

 

2013 Teachers Choice Book, International Reading Association

 

In a fascinating companion to Survival at 40 Below (2010), readers visit Australia’s Simpson Desert, spending a day (and night) with the animals that can tolerate its punishing temperatures. Readers may be familiar with emus, red kangaroos, and skinks, but plenty of creatures—mulgaras, dunnarts, thorny devils—will be new to adults and children alike. Miller’s prose incorporates significant detail about each animal’s habits without sacrificing lyricism (“Filling her throat pouch with air, a female emu makes a drumming sound as she strides across the open woodland. She smells water”). Equally evocative are Van Zyle’s acrylic paintings, drawn from photographs Miller took on a trip to the desert.”

 

-Publishers Weekly       

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From sweeping landscapes to close-ups, skillful acrylic paintings help readers visualize the setting and the animals that live there. With more detailed information than one might expect from the picture-book format, this will be a good addition to classroom units on animals in winter.”— Booklist

 

The text moves smoothly and quickly, offering interesting glimpses of varied hibernation patterns and the physical characteristics enabling some animals to survive winter’s deep chill aboveground. A good introduction to the diversity of the region’s wildlife.”–School Library Journal

 

"A fascinating look at the great diversity of animal adaptations, as well as an introduction to some lesser-known species."—Kirkus Reviews

2011 Teacher's Choice Book, International Reading Association

 

2010 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children, NSTA & CBC

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          Society of School Librarians International Book Award, Honor Book

 

          2004 Outstanding Science Trade book, Selector's Choice, NSTA

          2003 Kansas State Reading Circle

          2003 John Burroughs Nature Book for Young Readers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

​CREATING THE BOOK:

A few years ago, an editor at Walker Books suggested that I write a book about the light in Alaska and how it changes through the seasons. She noted that few people really understood the dynamics and beauty of our polar light. It was a wonderful idea. In describing our dramatic, ever-changing light, I decided to focus on the surroundings of my home in Fairbanks and interior Alaska. Light and temperature information on each page reflects Fairbanks records. I learned about many new terms and phenomena as I researched our glorious light. Sun dogs, sparkles, glints, diamond dust, blinks, alpenglow, twilight, and the dancing northern lights - light conditions that stun us and give Alaska's magnificent wilderness a special beauty. Through Jon Van Zyle's exquisite acrylic paintings, I hope that readers gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of our light at the top of the world.

​"Miller's text includes not only lyrical messages about light and its partner, darkness, but also references to the reaction of wildlife to the waxing and waning of sunshine: the migration of birds and caribou, the hibernation of bears, the changing coat of the Arctic hare...Van Zyle's superb and quietly beautiful acrylic paintings capture both light and dark in perfect harmony with the text...A winner."  - School Library Journal

   Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

   Walker & Company, 2003

   ISBN: 0-8027-8856-4

   Ages 5 - 9

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          Orbis Picture Award, Recommended Book, 2005

          Children's Crown Honor Book, 2005

 

​          New York State Reading Association, Charlotte Award, 2004 Masterlist

 

​          Children's Book Council - 2003 Outstanding Trade Book, Field of Social Studies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Miller does a thorough job of explaining the different dog teams and owners and how many people and dogs played a part in the rescue despite difficult conditions.Van Zyle's polished paintings of sled dogs in action complement the story well. The official painter of the Iditarod race effectively captures the Alaska landscape, especially in sweeping vistas of snow, sky, and northern lights. This volume offers a more complete history of the serum race and all the heroic players..." - Kirkus

"This is an excellent account told with lots of detail and drama"- School Library Journal

Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

   Walker & Company, 2002

   ISBN: 0-8027-8811-4

   Ages 7 - 10

 

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         2009 Forget-Me-Not Award, Alaska State Literacy Association

         2008 Kentucky Bluegrass Book Award Master List

        2007 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children - National Science Teachers Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATING THE BOOK:

I was inspired to write this book by Everett, a stuffed bald eagle who likes to travel. Everett lives in a 4th grade classroom at Central Elementary School, in Wilmette, Illinois. Every year Everett travels to different states and countries and learns about new environments, people, wildlife, and events. A few years ago Everett came to visit me in Alaska. He went dog mushing, sledding, and he flew to the base of Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. We really enjoyed showing Everett around. We helped him take pictures with his camera and write notes in his journal about the trip. Everett also went to Southeast Alaska and visited the Tongass National Forest with author-friend, Richard Nelson. Everett was lucky enough to meet some real wild bald eagles at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.

Everett's Alaska trips gave me the idea to write a story about a wild bald eagle that travels to many of Alaska's extraordinary places. Big Alaska takes you to special places in Alaska through the eyes of a bald eagle. Jon Van Zyle did a wonderful job illustrating this book as the eagle soars to such places as Tongass National Forest, Glacier Bay, Kodiak Island, Katmai National Park, the Yukon River, Denali National Park, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There is lots of information in the back of the book about featured places and useful web sites.

Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

   Walker & Company, 2006

   ISBN: 0-8027-8069-5

   Ages 7 - 10

 

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        ​2003 IRA(International Reading Association) Teacher's Choice Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATING THE BOOK:

One day I hiked near a forest with my four-year old daughter, Casey. She looked up at a tall tree and asked, "Are trees alive?" I answered yes, and explained that trees were living things. She responded , "But how do they breathe; they don't have noses." Her question inspired me to look closely at the features of trees and compare them to humans. This book describes tree characteristics and celebrates some of the magnificent trees that grow on our planet, along with the diversity of life that surrounds them.

"Responding to her daughter's question about how trees breathe without noses, the author celebrates the common features of trees and humans in this multicultural picture book...The artist uses acrylic paint and gouache to great effect, presenting double-page layouts showing trees and children around the world. Especially appealing are a tropical layout with bananas, cocoa pods, butterfly, bat, boa constrictor, and a smiling face; and an island scene with a sandy beach, seabirds, sprouting coconut, and a young family. End papers show where in the world trees from different pages are found. A feel-good story from the tree-hugging illustration on the front cover to the cozy family picnic at the end."  - Kirkus Reviews

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   Illustrated by Stacey Schuett

  Walker and Company, 2002

  ISBN: 0-8027-8801-7

  Ages 3-8

          2001 Outstanding Science Trade Book: National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATING THE BOOK:

Our family has hiked along the banks of many wild rivers in Alaska. Rivers offer excellent habitat for a great diversity of life. Many plant and animals species can be discovered along our rivers, from salmon and brown bears, to yellow warblers, willows, and moose. Each species is part of an extensive web of life that is linked to the river. River of Life is based on my personal experiences and wildlife observations over the course of the last 25 years. Several rivers in the southcentral region of Alaska are a part of the River of Life story. There may be some plants and animals along the River of Life that you might discover along a river near your own home. Many of Alaska's birds are summer visitors that migrate to the continental U.S., and Central and South America, for the winter season. You might recognize some of these birds in the story.

"Beginning and ending in winter, this elegant book traces the seasonal changes of an Alaskan river. The descriptive text, filled with peaceful imagery, reveals the life the river supports and its interconnectedness. A small boy observes the drama of wildlife - the moose knee-deep in the river, a kingfisher swooping for salmon, a red fox scavenging along the riverbank..." -Booklist

   Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

   ISBN 0-395-96790-2

    Clarion Books, 2000

   Ages 4-8

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1997 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children, National Science Teachers Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATING THE BOOK:

 

To study the Pacific golden plover, I traveled to Nome, Alaska, where I accompanied biologists Wally and Patricia Johnson who were researching golden plovers on their nesting grounds. I helped the biologists carefully locate the well-camouflaged nests on the tundra. I listened to their breeding calls, watched mating behavior, saw their brown-specked eggs, studied the "broken wing dance," and watched foxes on the prowl. I also traveled to Hawaii, where I often saw golden plovers on their wintering grounds. I observed them snatching insects from lawns, golf courses and open fields, and I watched them form communal roosts at night, on rock-lined shores near the edge of the moonlit surf. After I wrote the story, I felt very lucky to be introduced to wildlife artist Daniel Van Zyle, Jon Van Zyle's identical twin brother. Jon and Daniel Van Zyle are both outstanding wildlife artists. As a Hawaiian resident, Dan knew the golden plover well, as they were in his backyard during much of the year. He also had a love and respect for this long-distance flier. We were lucky to find a publisher (Alaska Northwest Books) that allowed us to collaborate on this book.

 

 

​"Hawaiian resident Dan Van Zyle and Fairbanks author Debbie Miller have collaborated on a high-interest children's book about the golden plover explaining, in depth, its extraordinary migration patterns. With minute detail and near-reverence, Miller and Van Zyle offer readers a first-of-its-kind look at the behavior and incredible adaptations this unique bird makes in its annual Pacific Rim journey...Authentic and brilliantly drawn illustrations, authoritative text and an amazing subject combine to make an awesome presentation. Applause, applause!" - Alaska Parenting

 

 

Illustrated by Daniel Van Zyle

  University of Alaska Press, 2011

  ISBN 978-1-60223-151-1

   Ages 7 and up

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CREATING THE BOOK:

Disappearing Lake is located in Denali National Park, surrounded by the majestic Alaska Range. Our family has visited this lake every spring for the past decade. The story is based on our wildlife observations and studies of the area. Our daughters, Robin and Casey, named this place Disappearing Lake because each year they've watched the lake gradually disappear. ​ Now you see it, now you don't!​​ Vernal lakes are temporary water systems created by rainwater or by snow melting in the spring. Disappearing Lake is one of many vernal lakes and ponds that are scattered across Alaska, and in many regions around the world. As temperatures rise and the snow vanishes, the lakes gradually disappear as the water seeps into the ground and evaporates. What once was a lake or pond, often becomes a meadow.

 

"Miller takes a careful look at a temporary water system - a vernal lake in Alaska whose emergence and disappearance each year has given rise to a unique ecosystem. Readers will be fascinated by the existence of such systems." - Kirkus Reviews, pointer review

  Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

   Walker & Company, 1997

   ISBN: 0-8027-8474-7(hardbound)

   ISBN: 0-8027-7558-6(paperback)

   Ages 4-8 years.

1998 International Reading Association-Children's Book Council, Teacher's Choice Award

Bank Street College Children's Books of the Year

Nominated as a Notable Book by American Library Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CREATING THE BOOK:

One day a friend handed me a mammoth tooth that he discovered while gold mining in a nearby river. The molar was the size of a brick and weighed about four pounds. This sparked my imagination. How could I hold this giant tooth and not further research these shaggy creatures that lived near my home as "recently" as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago? Researching this book was a challenge. Unlike my other life cycle books, I could not go out an observe wild mammoths. Instead, I visited natural history museums, examined tusks and fossils, interviewed paleontologists, and read books about these fascinating creatures and their closest living relative, the elephant. Through careful research and the help of scientists I pieced together a hypothetical life history story of these amazing animals. For more details on this research and my other wildlife books you can read "Sharing the Journey Through Life Cycle Stories," an article that appeared in the February/March 2001 issue of Book Links, published by the American Library Association.

 

"There is danger, drama, and joy as Miller describes the birth of a new calf, encounters with predators and nomadic hunters, and the rigors of annual migration. Acrylic paintings capture the essence of the enormous "walking haystacks" and the harsh terrain in which they lived...Vivid writing and equally impressive illustrations make this an excellent science title for young readers." -Kirkus

​Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

   ISBN: 1602230996 (hardbound)

   ISBN: 1602230989 (softbound)

   University of Alaska Press, 2010

   Ages 7 and up

  

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Top Ten Animal Books for 1998, Booklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATING THE BOOK:

This particular book took me north of Barrow, Alaska, to observe polar bears in their sea ice world. This was quite an adventure! I visited the area in May, when the sea ice was moving and open leads were forming. This can be a very dangerous time of year. The Inupiat residents of Barrow had recently harvested a bowhead whale, and a number of polar bears were feeding on the whale carcass. I traveled out on the sea ice with wildlife biologist Craig George. Craig is the son of Jean Craighead George, the woman who wrote Julie of the Wolves and many other wonderful children's books. Craig introduced me to the habitat of the polar bears as we traveled by snowmobile several miles offshore. I was lucky to observe a mother polar bear and her two cubs -- magnificent creatures! I placed my boot inside the enormous tracks of adult polar bears, saw a ringed seal slip beneath the water, and marveled at the pressure ridges and the jumble of ice that forms when sheets of ice collide together. The sea ice environment was so unlike anything I had ever experienced. I felt as though I was walking on a foreign planet! Once again, I was fortunate to collaborate with Alaska wildlife artist Jon Van Zyle, who created beautiful acrylic paintings for the polar bear book. Jon did a wonderful job portraying the beauty and drama of the polar bear's world.


"Lovely acrylic paintings accompany this informative and lyrical text that focuses on a mother polar bear and her two cubs. The blue-gray palette perfectly evokes the frozen and forbidding landscape that the animals travel through after leaving their snug den. Polar bear diet, habitat, and parenting behavior are smoothly integrated into the satisfying narrative." - School Library Journal


 

Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

  University of Alaska Press, 2011

  ISBN 978-1-60223-151-1

   Ages 7 and up

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CREATING THE BOOK:

Over the years our family has observed caribou in many areas of Alaska. A Caribou Journey is based our experiences observing the 129,000-member Porcupine caribou herd within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR. This huge herd migrates back and forth between Alaska and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. They often cross the Porcupine River when they migrate, so they are named after the river, not because they resemble porcupines!One summer day on the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, Dennis and I shared the greatest wildlife spectacle of our lives. We looked over our shoulders and spotted 30,000 to 40,000 caribou marching right toward us! Soon the caribou were swarming around us, grunting and bleating, thousands of mothers, little calves and regal bulls. There were so many caribou covering the tundra that it looked like the earth was moving! They swam across the river directly in front of us. This is one of the many scenes that became a part of A Caribou Journey. We've been fortunate to see caribou mothers nurture their calves, run from predators, escape from mosquitos, climb over mountain passes, and swim across swift rivers. All of these experiences are first documented in my journal, and then I do additional scientific research when I get home. I wrote A Caribou Journey because of our daughter, Robin. When she was five, she wanted to learn more about caribou. We tried to find a book in the library that told the life cycle story of the caribou, but couldn't find an appropriate book for her age. This inspired me to write my own book based on our experiences.

  Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

   University of Alaska Press, 2010

   ISBN: 0-8027-8474-7(hardbound)

   ISBN: 0-8027-7558-6(paperback)

   Ages 4-8 years.

​1995 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children, National Science Teachers Association

 

1995 Society of School Librarians, International Notable Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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