Engraving of Juan Ponce de Leon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Exactly 500 years ago, Juan Ponce de Leon sighted Florida while exploring the New World. He was looking for the Fountain of Youth, but instead he found one of our most interesting states. Florida belonged to Spain until 1763, when it came under the control of the British. The Spanish took Florida back in the wake of the American Revolution, but then ceded it to the new United States in 1821. Florida became a state in 1845.
Between the Everglades, Disney World, Miami Beach and the Florida Keys, just about everyone can find a reason to visit Florida.
Take a virtual trip to the Sunshine State with one of these novels:
Cloaked by Alex Flinn (FIC Flinn) — Seventeen-year-old Johnny is approached at his family’s struggling shoe repair shop in a Miami, Florida, hotel by Alorian Princess Victoriana, who asks him to find her brother who was turned into a frog.
Candor by Pam Bachorz (FIC Bachorz) — For a fee, “model teen” Oscar Banks has been secretly–and selectively–sabotaging the subliminal messages that program the behavior of the residents of Candor, Florida, until his attraction to a rebellious new girl threatens to expose his subterfuge.
Scat by Carl Hiaasen (FIC Hiaasen) — Nick and Marta are both suspicious when their biology teacher, the feared Mrs. Bunny Starch, disappears, and try to uncover the truth despite the police and headmaster’s insistence that nothing is wrong.
Paper towns by John Green (FIC Green) — One month before graduating from his Central Florida high school, Quentin “Q” Jacobsen basks in the predictable boringness of his life until the beautiful and exciting Margo Roth Spiegelman, Q’s neighbor and classmate, takes him on a midnight adventure and then mysteriously disappears.
The postcard by Tony Abbott (FIC Abbott) — While in St. Petersburg, Florida, to help clean out his recently-deceased grandmother’s house, thirteen-year-old Jason finds an old postcard which leads him on an adventure that blends figures from an old, unfinished detective story with his family’s past.
What I saw and how I lied by Judy Blundell (FIC Blundell) — In 1947, with her jovial stepfather Joe back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenage Evie, smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life and that of her family forever.
Copper sun by Sharon M. Draper (FIC Draper) — Two fifteen-year-old girls–one a slave and the other an indentured servant–escape their Carolina plantation and try to make their way to Fort Moses, Florida, a Spanish colony that gives sanctuary to slaves.
Nothing to lose by Alex Flinn (FIC Flinn) — A year after running away with a traveling carnival to escape his unbearable home life, sixteen-year-old Michael returns to Miami, Florida, to find that his mother is going on trial for the murder of his abusive stepfather.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (FIC DiCamillo) — Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni describes her first summer in the town of Naomi, Florida, and all the good things that happen to her because of her big ugly dog Winn-Dixie.
The Aguero sisters by Cristina Garcia (FIC Garcia) — Two Cuban sisters–one a master electrician in Havana, the other a successful cosmetics saleswoman in Miami–are reunited after a thirty-year separation and learn the truth behind their mother’s tragic death at the hands of their father years earlier.
Tangerine by Edward Bloor (FIC Bloor) — Twelve-year-old Paul, who lives in the shadow of his football hero brother Erik, fights for the right to play soccer despite his near blindness and slowly begins to remember the incident that damaged his eyesight.
How to be bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski & Lauren Myracle (FIC Lockhart) –Told in alternating voices, Jesse, Vicks, and Mel, hoping to leave all their worries and woes behind, escape their small town by taking a road trip to Miami.
Free fall by Joyce Sweeney (FIC Sweeney) — While trapped in a cave in a Florida forest, two brothers reveal to each other and their friends the truth about their previously hidden feelings.
The yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (FIC Rawlings) — A young boy living in the Florida backwoods is forced to decide the fate of a fawn he has lovingly raised as a pet.
The talking Earth by Jean Craighead George (FIC George) — Billie Wind ventures out alone into the Florida Everglades to test the legends of her Indian ancestors and learns the importance of listening to the Earth’s vital messages.