“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. Jayden’s Secret Ingredient was released by Free Spirit Publishing in 2023. 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.

Mélina's Featured Titles

Jayden’s Secret Ingredient

Free Spirit Publishing |

Jayden discovers the secret ingredient to trying something new.

Jayden loves the outdoors and the garden he created with his friend Mr. Curtis. But he’s not so sure about sampling some of the garden’s produce. When Mr. Curtis invites neighbors to share the harvest of scarlet runner beans, Jayden faces a dilemma. Will he find the courage to try something new?

Jayden returns for all new adventures in Jayden’s Secret Ingredient. This story, which can be read as a standalone or as a sequel to the award-winning Jayden’s Impossible Garden, emphasizes the importance of friendship, community, and the courage and openness to try new things. Along with Mr. Curtis and Jayden, readers learn the value of outdoor play and contact with nature, from planting a seed to sharing and eating what it produces. This story is a natural starting point for the exploration of nature, ecology, and gardening, as well as for a cooking club.

At the back of the book, a section for adults has additional activities and other information to expand on the story and its ideas.

Boundless: Twenty Voices Celebrating Multicultural and Multiracial Identities

Inkyard Press |
Short Stories

With twenty stories that center and celebrate the multiracial and multicultural experience from your favorite award-winning and bestselling authors, this is a groundbreaking anthology perfect for fans of COME ON IN and BLACK ENOUGH.

When identities cross boundaries, with love that knows no bounds.
From platonic and romantic love to grief and heartbreak, these stories explore navigating life at the intersection of identities, and what it means to grow up surrounded by a multitude of traditions, languages, cultures, and interpersonal dynamics.
Returning to a father’s homeland. Trying to fit in at chaotic weddings and lavish birthday parties where not all are welcome. Processing grief at family gatherings. Figuring out how to share the news of a new relationship with loved ones. This collection celebrates multicultural and multiracial characters at the helm of their own narratives, as they approach life with a renewed sense of hope and acceptance.

Featuring original stories from:

  • Adi Alsaid
  • Rebecca Balcárcel
  • Akemi Dawn Bowman
  • Anika Fajardo
  • Shannon Gibney
  • I.W. Gregorio
  • Veera Hiranandani
  • Nasugraq Rainey Hopson
  • Emiko Jean
  • Erin Entrada Kelly
  • Torrey Maldonado
  • Mélina Mangal
  • Goldy Moldavsky
  • Randy Ribay
  • Loriel Ryon
  • Tara Sim
  • Eric Smith
  • Jasmine Warga
  • Ismée Williams
  • Karen Yin

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.


School Visits

Multimedia presentations, including a book reading of one of my books and chants, song, or fingerplay, depending on the age. School wide, by grade, or just a classroom.


Youth Writing Workshops

For middle grade youth or teens with a focus on poetry, nature, research, biography, or STEM connections.Suitable for camps, classrooms, or conferences. Single event or residencies.


Adult Writing Workshops

For adults, with the focus on writing picture books, the research process, or writing biographies for young readers.


“Behind the book” Readings

Readings tailored to any audience, whether it’s preschool, elementary, middle school, or high school or adult public. Book reading along with presentation on how the book came to be, the writing process, and additional background, along with Q & A.


Reading with Hands-on Activities

Book reading along with hands-on complementary activities tailored to audience age, whether preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, or special needs classes.For example, decorating sand dollar replicas along with a reading of The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just or creating recycled container planters along with a reading of Jayden’s Impossible Garden.


How a Book is Made—From Writing to ‘Exciting’!

As a former book production editor, Mélina brings the knowledge of the book making process, combined with her experience as a librarian and author.Tailored for any age audience.


Intergenerational Storytime with Jayden’s Impossible Garden

I will read my picture book with Jayden’s Impossible Garden for a public audience, focusing on intergenerational relationships like grandparents and grandchildren.I will present a Google slides/Powerpoint presentation, along with discussion of the book and a recycled gardening activity or poem writing activity.

Audience: Adults and children


Cells, Seeds, and Sentences

In this multimedia presentation for grades 3+, I share my picture books, along with the idea of essential elements, highlighting the basic building blocks of writing.

Audience: Grades 2+


Nature-Smart school Libraries

Multimedia Professional Development geared to school librarians, highlighting the ways that school libraries can create nature-based collections and support or lead in nature-based instruction.


Infusing Word Play into Your Day

Multimodal Professional Development for educators infusing movement and creative writing activities into teachers’ instructional practice to reach all learners.

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 you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

Similar Authors

Award-Winning Picture Book Author
Susan B.
Picture Book & Middle Grade Author
Middle Grade Novelist
Picture Book Author
Indigenous Kid-Lit Novelist

We’ve received your Message!

An AU Representative will connect with you as soon as possible.