Best Children’s Books of 2012

these hands


As nominated by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC):

All the Water in the World. By George Ella Lyon, Illus. by Katherine Tillotson, Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

From deserts to the kitchen sink, the water cycle is lyrically yet economically described in Lyon’s poem emphasizing the importance of water conservation. Katherine Tillotson’s digital paintings splash, surge and drip off the page.

A Ball for Daisy. By Chris Raschka, Illus. by the author, Schwartz & Wade Books,

A wordless tale of an irrepressible little dog whose most prized possession is accidently destroyed. A buoyant tale of loss, recovery, and friendship. (2012 Caldecott Medal Book)

Blackout. By John Rocco, Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion Books.

A summer power outage draws an urban family up to their building’s roof and then down to the street for an impromptu block party. (A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book)

Bring on the Birds. By Susan Stockdale, Illus. by the author. Peachtree.

Rhyming couplets and clear, identifiable illustrations remind readers that birds vary in many ways, but all have feathers and are hatched from eggs. Colorful acrylics help provide just the right of information for preschool ornithologists.

The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred. By Samantha R. Vamos, Illus. by Rafael López. Charlesbridge.

Nothing is better than a delicious bowl of arroz con leche unless, of course, a host of farm animals have a hand in the preparation! (A 2012 Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)

Chirchir Is Singing. By Kelly Cunnane, Illus. by Jude Daly. Schwartz & Wade Books.

In this cumulative story set in Kenya, Chirchir sings as she tries to help with family chores.  Acrylic folk art highlights the activities of daily life in this rural setting.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?, By Susan A. Shea, Illus. by Tom Slaughter. Blue Apple Books.

This book playfully challenges children’s concepts of the growth capacity of living vs. non-living things in a fun and engaging way.

Dot. By Patricia Intriago, Illus. by the author. Farrar Straus Giroux.

To a child’s delight, bright dots and brief rhyming verses cleverly demonstrate antonyms and synonyms in this clever picture book.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. By Sherri Duskey Rinker, Illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle Books.

Truck-loving toddlers will be willingly tucked into bed along with the vehicles in this superbly constructed goodnight poem.

Grandpa Green. By Lane Smith, Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook Press.

Elaborate topiary sculptures give visual form to memories in a wildly fanciful garden tended by a child and his beloved great-grandfather. (A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book)

Harry and Hopper. By Margaret Wild, Illus. by Freya Blackwood. Feiwel & Friends.

A poignant depiction of grief and acceptance at the loss of a beloved pet is relayed in this quietly moving story whose illustrations add emotional depth.

I Broke My Trunk. By Mo Willems. Illus. by the author. Hyperion Books for Children.

Piggie is very concerned about his best friend, Gerald the Elephant, who has broken his trunk, and Gerald tells him a long, rambling story about how it happened. (A 2012 Geisel Honor Book)

I Want My Hat Back. By Jon Klassen, Illus. by the author. Candlewick Press.

After losing his hat, Bear politely and patiently questions his fellow forest dwellers as to the whereabouts of his “red pointy hat.” (A 2012 Geisel Honor Book)

King Jack and the Dragon. By Peter Bently, Illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Dial Books for Young Readers.

Enhanced by whimsical illustrations, this story of the wonders and terrors created by a child’s imagination, shows the power of playtime and the magic of make-believe.

Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World. By Jacqueline K. Ogburn. Illus. by Chris Raschka. Houghton Mifflin.

Raschka’s pictures give distinct personalities to the subjects of these endearments and the book is a reminder of how much children are loved in every language and culture. Translations and pronunciation guides are included.

Little White Rabbit. By Kevin Henkes, Illus. by the author. Greenwillow Books.

Little white rabbit explores the springtime world wondering what it would be like to be different – green, tall, solid, or able to fly  – but when he comes home he knows who loves him.

Me…Jane. By Patrick McDonnell, Illus. by the author. Little, Brown.

Watching birds and squirrels in her yard, a young girl discovers the joy and wonder of nature. A glimpse of the childhood of renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. (A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book)

Mouse & Lion. By Rand Burkert, Illus. by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. di Capua/Scholastic.

Mouse is the center of this retelling of a familiar Aesop’s fable.  Elegant illustrations place the story solidly in the natural world of Africa.

Naamah and the Ark at Night. By Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Illus. by Holly Meade. Candlewick Press.

As the waters rage, this lullaby reveals Noah’s wife as a nurturer of diverse creatures aboard the ark. Watercolor and collage illustrations amplify the text, a form of lyrical Arabic poetry, called ghazal.

A New Year’s Reunion: A Chinese Story. By Yu Li-Qiong, Illus. by Zhu Cheng-Liang, Candlewick Press.

Vibrant illustrations highlight a young girl’s joy when her father makes his annual visit for Chinese New Year in this tender story.

Over and Under the Snow. By Kate Messner, Illus. by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle Books.

While skiing cross-country with her father, a girl envisions the “secret kingdom” under the snow, where small forest animals shelter in winter. Neal’s bright, snowy landscapes contrast with his depictions of shadowed, subterranean nests.

Prudence Wants a Pet. By Cathleen Daly, Illus. by Stephen Michael King. Roaring Brook Press.

In this quietly humorous picture book illustrated in soft colors, Prudence tries out a branch, a twig, a shoe, her little brother, a tire, and sea buddies until her parents finally give her a kitten as a pet.

See Me Run. By Paul Meisel, Illus. by the author. Holiday House.

Dogs and more dogs are everywhere: running, sliding, jumping, splashing, and having fun. (A 2012 Geisel Honor Book)

Should I Share My Ice Cream?  By Mo Willems, Illus. by the author. Hyperion Books for Children.

A common human problem is posed and solved with Willems’ minimal illustration and graceful humor.

Stars. By Mary Lyn Ray, Illus. by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane Books.

A duet of spare, poetic observations and ethereal illustrations explore the realities and possibilities of many kinds of stars, embracing the immediacy of a child’s experiences. A great read aloud.

Tales for Very Picky Eaters. By Josh Schneider, Illus. by the author, Clarion Books.

Five chapters recount James’ refusal to eat yet another disgusting, smelly, repulsive, lumpy, or slimy food. (2012 Geisel Medal Book)

Tell Me the Day Backwards. By Albert Lamb, Illus. by David McPhail, Candlewick Press.

Mama bear and child reflect on the day, recounting its events in reverse order.  Gentle and reassuring, this book wonderfully illustrates a sometimes difficult concept: the flow of time.

Ten Little Caterpillars. By Bill Martin, Jr., Illus. by Lois Ehlert. Beach Lane Books.

Ten different caterpillars inch their ways across vibrantly-illustrated environs in this newly-illustrated, rhyming story. Supplemental facts widen the book’s appeal and usefulness. Ehlert’s watercolor collages are remarkably entomologically accurate.

These Hands. By Margaret H. Mason, Illus. by Floyd Cooper. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Both an affirmation of a nurturing relationship between grandfather and grandson and an explanation of one reason labor unions fought for workers’ rights, the brief text and warm illustrations tell an uplifting American story.

Tìa Isa Wants a Car. By Meg Medina, Illus. by Claudio Muñoz. Candlewick Press.

Using a cheerful positive tone, Medina depicts a warm relationship between Tia Isa and her niece and shows the strength of community as a life-long dream is realized.

Where’s Walrus?  By Stephen Savage, Illus. by the author. Scholastic.

Walrus escapes from the zoo and cleverly disguises himself around the city; the zoopkeeper and the children reading the book search for him on each bold, bright page of this wordless book.

Who Has What?: All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies. By Robie H. Harris, Illus. by Nadine Bernard Westcott. Candlewick Press.

In a cheerful, easy tone, Harris explains who’s got what body parts, their similarities of differences. Girls,  boys and adults of many ethnicities – even animals – are included in the loose-lined illustrations depicting the “bare” facts.


Click on the link to read Illustrator Quentin Blake Turns 80 and is Given a Knighthood

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Click on the link to read The 15 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in the English Language

Click on the link to read Who Said Grammar Isn’t Important?

Click on the link to read Why Spelling is Important


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