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The best children’s books of 2012

December 5, 2012

The only people who backload good media are the ones who care about Oscars.  Even though it’s early in the month, I feel pretty good about declaring my favorites.

These should be a surprise to no one who follows my blog.

For non-fiction, I’m just going to mention two authors.  The first is Thea Feldman.  Her Kingfisher Easy Readers are everything Easy Readers should be.  I am consistently impressed by her ability to boil everything down into digestable, age-appropriate information.  The second is April Pulley Sayre.  Go, Go, Grapes! is a fantastic follow up to Rah, Rah, Radishes!  The colorful pictures!  The solid rhymes!  The introduction of healthy foods without telling anyone how they have to eat them or that they have to eat them at all!  It wasn’t until I became vegan that I started to actually learn the names of all the things at the grocery store, for which I blame my family for the first eighteen years of that, so the idea that I can read these books to these kids and maybe their parents will take it out and say, “You know, what DOES this one taste like?” and maybe end up with kids who eat more than chicken nuggets…that would be awesome.  And I would write a thank-you letter to April Pulley Sayre for those two fabulous books.

Okay, so, fiction.  Wow.  I guess I should pick, like, five titles, but that’s really hard!  I loved a lot of books this year!  So you get five-plus.

This was the year of Jon Klassen and Mo Willems.  But then again, every year Mo writes is going to be a Year of Mo Willems.  This year he put out some Elephant & Piggie books, at least one Pigeon, and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.  All great.

But Klassen is a new name to me.  I think he kinda flew under my radar until now, but I could not ignore him in 2012.  His name is on not on but TWO of my favorite books of the year.  The first is This is Not My Hat, which is hilarious and I’m psyched to read it tomorrow to the kids.  That’s all Klassen.  The other is Mac Barnett’s Extra Yarn, where Klassen does the art, and OH YEAH, Barnett’s also the one who wrote Chloe and the Lion, another of my top books of the year!  I didn’t even realize that until just now.  Extra Yarn is a lovely fairy tale, and Chloe and the Lion cracks me up every time.  Maybe I should add Chloe to tomorrow’s story time as well.  Adam Rex is the artist there, and boy, is it hilarious.  Seriously, Chloe is my go-to pick for a funny picture book to buy for Christmas/Chanukah/ALL the holidays.

K.L. Going’s Dog in Charge is probably my toddler pick for the year.  It’s just so funny.  A dog is trying to herd cats, but guess what that’s like?  Dan Santat’s drawings are crisp, cartoony, and just perfect.

David LaRochelle’s I’m a Tiger! I’m already calling as my best storytime book of the year, even though I haven’t read it to the kids yet.  There’s no way they won’t love it.  It’s so bright and colorful (thanks to Jeremy Tankard) and interactive.  I said in my original review that it’s the new We’re Going on a Bear Hunt but not only is it more active, but I think it also is gigglier and, frankly, there’s no way LaRochelle will come off half as creepy as Rosen if he makes a video of himself reading it.

Toni Buzzeo’s One Cool Friend has the best twist ending, and is just really really solidly good with fabulous art by David Small.  I love Elliot and want to take him home with me.

How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti and Yancey Labat is a GREAT book about numbers.  I mean, seriously, just excellent.  It’s going to get shredded quickly, but hey, that’s fine, because I’ll just reorder it, because it’s great.  So many books count to ten, but how many count to a million AND show you?  Come on.  Awesome.

And there you go–those are my picks. Great holiday gifts all, I think, but also great check-outs.  So go to the library and read them.  Your kids will thank you.

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