Rich in history, with a complex environmental story to tell…a place of romance and mystery, the Outer Banks is an ideal setting for a book. And so many authors have noticed how perfect this sandbar is for storytelling that we can’t even include all of them.
We do think, though that we have managed to compile a reasonably inclusive list. We did have to break it down into categories: children’s books, fiction, history, and the environment. We realize, though, this is not a complete list by any means, but it’s a good place to start.
Suzanne Tate Nature Series with illustrations by James Melvin
Any list of children’s books about the Outer Banks has got to start with Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series.
Written on a pre-K to seven-year old level, the books are beautifully illustrated by Outer Banks artist James Melvin. What really makes the books stand out, though, is Tate has done her research and when she describes the life of a hermit crab or a tuna it’s accurate.
With some 35 books available, it’s hard to pick out a favorite, but Merri-Lee Monarch, A Tale of a Big Trip really caught our attention as Tate tracked the migration of monarch butterflies from the Outer Banks to Mexico and back again. Melvin’s illustrations are startling in their beauty.
Tate and Melvin also collaborated on a series of children’s books about the history of the Outer Banks. The history series books are somewhat difficult to find, but they are a wonderful introduction to the time of the Wright Brothers or the Outer Banks during the Civil War.
The Surfin’ Spoon Series by Jesse and Whitney Hines with illustrations by Ben Weiland
Former pro surfer Jesse Hines and his wife Whitney own the Sufin’ Spoon yogurt shop in Nags Head. With his wife, Whitney, he has written three books for pre-school to first-grade level readers. The books feature Sebi the Spoon learning how to surf and overcoming obstacles.
Captain Stumpy by Herbert and Jeremy Bliven
Wonderful illustrations and a fun read featuring peg-legged pirate cat Captain Stumpy who manages to outwit his arch-rival Fluff Bucket. Written and illustrated by father and son team Herbert and Jeremy Bliven, the book is ideal for pre-k to seven or eight years of age.
Taffy of Torpedo Junction by Nell Wise Wechter
An oldie but a good one. Taffy of Torpedo Junction is based on some of the things that author Nell Wise Wechter witnessed as a teacher on Hatteras Island during WWII. The language in the book is a bit dated now, but it still tells a wonderful story—one that has captivated preteens for years.
Taffy has reason to believe there is a nest of Nazi spies coming ashore on Hatteras Island and her efforts to track the spies and alert the authorities make for an exciting read. It’s also a great introduction to the history of the Outer Banks during WWII when German U-boats sank so many ships off the Outer Banks that it gained the nickname “Torpedo Junction.”
The Summer of Lost and Found by Rebecca Behrens
An excellent young adult book, The Summer of Lost and Found works on so many levels that it becomes a delightful read.
Told through the eyes of protagonist Neil Dare, it’s sort of a city mouse, country mouse tale as Neil is dragged out of her comfortable New York City life for a summer on Roanoke Island.
There’s some subtle humor as well. Neil and her mother check into their Roanoke Island rental late at night, hungry and tired only to discover no one delivers after 9:00 p.m. Coming from a world of 24-hour delivery Neil is aghast.
She does adjust. In fact, begins to thrive in her summer home, making friends and digging into the history and mystery of the Lost Colony.
As she discovers more about history, she also has to confront the struggles of her parent’s marriage.
The dialogue is snappy and real; author Behrens fills the pages with real Outer Banks settings. And the backstories make it a book young adult readers will really enjoy.