Monday, January 7, 2013

BEST OF 2012: Children's Picture Books and Early Chapter Books

And BCPL's favorite 2012 books for young children are:

Picture Books (Fiction) 

And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano, illus. by Erin Stead
A boy plants a seed in a brown world. And waits. And waits. And then it's spring. A gentle lesson in patience and the cycle of nature. Pre-K–2nd Grade.

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff
Leaving the den as the weather warms, Baby Bear explores to discover blue birds, red strawberries, orange butterflies, and more. What really makes this book shine are Ashley Wolff's vibrant illustrations, which manage to convey both gentleness and a sense of adventure. Pre-K–Kindergarten.

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead
Bear has a story to tell, but as all his animal friends are busy preparing for winter, will there be anyone to listen? This is a gentle and heartwarming story about friendship and nature, superbly illustrated. Pre-K–1st Grade.

The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks, illus. by Georg Hallensleben
Books and reading are the stars of this picture book, not a bear. The clever structure allows readers to peek in on the intimate process of  a mother and child reading together at bedtime, then offers glimpses into the book they are reading within the story. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein*
It all begins when Amelia smiles. Someone sees her smile and is inspired to do a good deed and so on, and so on. The effects of that one smile cross oceans and then somehow make their way back to Amelia. A lovely concept, and a great jumping off point for a discussion between kids and parents. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Boy and Bot by Ame Dyckman, illus. by Dan Yaccarino*
Despite their differences, a boy and a robot become true and caring companions. This sweet-natured tale is enhanced by charming artwork and humor-inflected dialog. Pre-K–Kindergarten.

Charley's First Night by Amy Hest, illus. by Helen Oxenbury
This tender and warm story chronicles a little boy's first night with his new puppy. A timeless tale, lovingly illustrated and sure to have the kiddos clamoring for puppies of their own. Pre-K–2nd Grade.

Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illus. by Peter Brown*
The carrots growing in Crackenhopper Field are the yummiest around and Jasper Rabbit can't resist grabbing a snack every time he passes by. But then Jasper begins seeing creepy carrots stalking him wherever he goes—even watching him brush his teeth. This is a horror story for the kiddos, with an equal dose of humor. Brown's contrasting orange/gray illustrations are fabulous, creating a classic horror movie vibe, and the subtle lesson on greediness won't go amiss. Pre-K–1st Grade.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
In this fifth book of the beloved Pigeon series, the duckling gets a cookie by asking politely. Meanwhile, Pigeon rants and raves about all the things he has wanted and been denied. This is a wonderfully fun read aloud, which also offers material for a discussion about politeness and making reasonable vs. unreasonable requests. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by E.B. Lewis*
Quiet yet intense, this story of bullying and remorse is told from the bully's point of view. When her teacher gives the class a lesson on kindness, Chloe realizes the opportunities for kindness she has missed, especially in relation to a classmate she has refused to play with and has made fun of in the past. Some of the depictions of schoolyard bullying are truly striking, and Chloe's regret when she looks back on her actions is almost palpable. Kindergarten–3rd Grade.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illus. by Job Klassen
After discovering of magical box of yarn that never runs out, Annabelle knits for everyone and everything in town—until an evil archduke decides he wants the box for himself Kindergarten–2nd Grade.
Read Lucinda's Review.

Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos by Susan Middleton Elya, illus. by Dan Santat*
Rhythmic rhyming text interspersed with Spanish words tell the story of a brave group of firefighters off to battle a blaze. Context clues make it easy to guess the meaning of most of the Spanish words, though a glossary is provided at the end of the book. Santat's bold pencil drawings are vibrant and appealing. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
When Goldilocks wonders into the home of three dinosaurs, will she be able to escape? Or will the dinosaurs have a tasty treat awaiting them when they return home? This clever fairy tale with a twist will amuse adults and children alike. Pre-K–3rd Grade.

Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack
While on a picnic, Bunny and Mouse see everything that happens to them from opposite points of view: Bunny sees only the good, while Mouse sees only the bad. The repetitive, rapid-fire call-and-response text makes it a great read aloud, but this also works well for independent readers. Pre-K–1st Grade.

The Hero of Little Street by Gregory Rogers*
This wordless picture book follows a boy's escape from bullies into a museum, into a series of paintings, and back out again—with reinforcements to take on his tormentors. It's a grand adventure, presented in graphic novel format. The art is rich with nuance and humor, providing a clear and detailed story despite the lack of words. Book three in the Boy, Bear series. Kindergarten–3rd Grade.

A Home for Bird by Phillip C. Stead
 Sweetness and gentle humor punctuate this tale of a frog who meets a bird who seems sad and doesn't talk, then becomes determined to help the bird finds his home and be happy. A lovely book about kindness and perseverance. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley, illus. by Dan Santat*
A daring preschooler invites readers to watch as he performs such daring stunts as eating broccoli, dressing himself, and going to bed without checking for monsters. As always, Santat's illustrations are rife with humor and bold as can be—just like Kel Gilligan. We dare you not to laugh! Pre-K–1st Grade.

King Arthur's Very Great Grandson by Kenneth Kraegel
On his sixth birthday, Henry Alfred Grummorson, sets off in search of adventure, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, King Arthur. This picture book has the feel of a classic, with its timeless illustrations, and provides ample discussion material on themes of bravery, aggression, and friendship. Pre-K–2nd Grade.

Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Kids Counting Money
by Emily Jenkins, illus. by G. Brian Karas

It may be winter, but Pauline is determined to set up a lemonade stand and her brother John-John is happy to help. This is a lovely and entertaining book about money, the entrepreneurial spirit,  and sibling relationships. As Pauline teaches her little brother to count change, she also provides a lesson to the reader. Pre-K–3rd Grade.

Magritte's Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson*
This unusual, surrealist-inspired picture book is sure to inspire imagination and creativity as readers explore a world with Magritte and his hat where ordinary objects become extraordinary. Kindergarten–4th Grade.

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, illus. by Ed Young
Stealthily and oh-so-quietly, the ninja creeps through the house on a late-night mission. It's a deadly serious journey—until the lights go on and the secret mission is revealed. DaCostsa's spare, elegantly crafted text and Young's expressive collage artwork bring to life a young boy's fantasy. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole by Stan and Jan Berenstain
When a little penguin receives a blank book in the mail he is eager to fill it up with exciting things, but while he is seeking adventure he misses the action right before his eyes. Pre-K–2nd Grade.

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming, illus. by Eric Rohmann*
A tiger stalks its prey hungrily through a bamboo forest, while accident-prone forest creatures have close escapes and take turns rescuing one another.  The woodblock artwork is wonderfully expressive, and lots of repetition and silly sounds make it natural read aloud material. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at Least My History Grade) by Mac Barnett, illus. by Dan Santat*
Some kids are too smart for their own good...and maybe for everybody else's good too. The overly ambitious little girl from Oh No! is back; this time, she has a problem of historic proportions on her hands. She got a wrong answer on her history quiz! The only thing to do now is to build a time machine and travel back in time to make her wrong answer right! This is a hilarious adventure, from the construction of the time machine (among the parts: an original Nintendo game controller), to the search for the correct time period, to the unforeseen consequences of the journey. Kindergarten–3rd Grade.

Olivia and the Fairy Princess by Ian Falconer
In the seventh Olivia book, the funny, strong-willed piglet is having an identity crisis or sorts. Pre-K–2nd Grade.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin, illus. by James Dean
In this third installment of the Pete the Cat series, Pete loves the buttons on his shirt so much that he makes up a song about them, and even as the buttons pop off, one by one, he still finds a reason to sing. Pre-K–1st Grade.

The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle*
Nothing interesting ever happens in the boring town of Dull-on-Sea—until a pirate family moves into town. Despite the suspicion of her parents and neighbors, Miranda can't wait to befriend her new neighbors. Told in buoyant, comic rhyming text with just the right amount of absurdity mixed in, this is a jolly fun tale. Pre-K–2nd Grade.
Stay Close to Mama by Toni Buzzeo, illus. by Mike Wohnoutka
A curious baby giraffe wanders away from his mother to explore the interesting sights and smells of the savanna. Includes a note on giraffes. Pre-K–Kindergarten.

Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds
Marisol is an artist. When her class learns that they will work together to create a mural, Marisol wants to be in charge of the sky. But there is no blue paint. What will she do? This is a gorgeously illustrated, whimsical book about problem solving, artistic expression, and the power of imagination. Pre-K–2nd Grade.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Yet another hat is stolen in Klassen's latest solo effort—and yet this time around, we see things from the point of view of the thief, who rationalizes his thievery and is confident in his escape. Clever readers will notice the hints that getting away with it may not be so easy after all. Sly and suspenseful, with plenty of ironic humor, the text and illustrations combine perfectly for another winner. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky
This is not your average ABC picture book. When Zebra gathers the animals together to create a picture book, Moose simply cannot wait for his turn. So he tries to insert himself a bit early in the roster only to be forcibly removed. But when it's finally time for "M," Zebra chooses someone else to represent the letter. That's when things get really crazy. Delightfully silly humor makes this one a sure-fire hit. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Picture Books (Nonfiction)

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel, illus. by Amanda Hall*
This charming child's biography of painter Henri Rousseau explores the late-life painter's many rejections before he was hailed as a great artist. Bright, gorgeous illustrations create a fanciful world, from Henri's jungles to the galleries where his work is eventually displayed. Pre-K–3rd Grade.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger*
This concept book explores a variety of shades of the color green before delving into more abstract ideas. Simple rhyming text and clever die-cuts create texture. Pre-K–1st Grade.

Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey, illus. by Hadley Hooper
This fresh and lively picture book explores the unconventional life of Girl Scouts founder Juliet (Daisy) Gordon and the establishment of the organization in 1912. Mixed media art and a plenitude of Girl Scout creeds enhance the story and provide an authentic, crafty feel in keeping with the subject. Kindergarten–2nd Grade.

How Things Work in the House by Lisa Campbell Ernst*
From cats to popcorn to plumbing, Lisa Campbell Ernst explains simply and clearly how a variety of household objects "work." In addition, she provides interesting facts and even a few projects to undertake (with a responsible adult, when appropriate). The collage art is wonderfully balanced and fully illustrates the text. Kindergarten–3rd Grade.

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illus. by Kadir Nelson
An abbreviated version of King's iconic speech provides the text for Nelson's fabulous paintings. Together, the unforgettable words and perfectly done illustrations inspire and captivate. As a bonus, the entirety of King's speech is printed in the back, and the book comes packaged with a CD recording of King himself delivering the speech. All ages.

Island by Jason Chin*
This visual tribute to the evolving terrain and animals of the Galapagos Islands perfectly simplifies a complex subject and presents it in a balanced and entertaining format. Pre-K–5th Grade.

Beginning Reader/Early Chapter Books

Bink and Gollie: Two for One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illus. by Tony Fucile*
This early reader/picture book hybrid—the second in the Bink and Gollie series—includes three short stories within a larger tale. This time Bink and Gollie are at the State Fair, and their friendship is as steadfast as ever. These two opposites know each other inside and out, and their loyalty is unquestioned. Fucile's illustrations are brimming with humor, and the vocabulary is rich yet approachable. Kindergarten–2nd Grade.

Penny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes
This feel-good beginning reader tells the story of Penny and her search for the perfect name for her new doll. Penny's voice is authentic, and according to a School Library Journal reviewer, "[the] sight words and repetition are perfect for emerging readers." Kindergarten–1st Grade.

Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett, illus. by Ann James
Hannah frequently gets in trouble. Or, more specifically, it is her hands—whom she has named Sadie and Ratz—that cause all the trouble. Sadie and Ratz especially love tormenting Hannah's younger brother, Baby Boy. But then bad things start happening when Sadie and Ratz aren't around, but Hannah is still getting in trouble. This humor-laced early reader has a bit more edge than the usual beginning reader books, but despite her troublemaking—and occasionally violent ways—Hannah is a sympathetic character. Hartnett's themes of imagination and sibling rivalry receive realistic and original treatment. Kindergarten–3rd Grade.

*Library copies for some titles are not yet available for checkout.

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