by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarinio, Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
Great for the younger kids, especially boys, with simple, evocative text, bright pictures, and a fun subtext in the illustrations that will entertain adults also. This is a sweet story about friendship despite differences.
by Phillis Alsdurf, illustrated b Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, Random House, 2012
Regional and laden with tradition, the luminous rendering of morning and evening light in the illustrations sets this one apart. The story gives older children a sense of the work and love that goes into the milk they drink.
An Aesop Fable retold and illustrated by Helen Ward, Templar books, 2011
This is our pick for the most gorgeous illustrations we’ve seen this year! The tale is a familiar favorite, and again, the subtext of the illustrations is what really enthralled me – the country scenes are lush and magical in contrast with the coarser finery of the city scenes. A treasure!
by Michael Keane, illustrated by Michael Garland, Regnery Publishing Co., 2012
‘Tis the season, not only to celebrate Christmas’s spirit of giving as exemplified by Santa Claus and his reindeer, but also the work and sacrifices of our nation’s military services. In a fun redux of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas, we learn about the year that Santa got lost in a storm and how all the branches of the military, including some of the lesser known ones, pitch in to help Santa complete his important annual mission.
By David Ezra Stein, Candlewick Press, 2012
We love this book, both for the message and the illustrations. With fun, bright pictures that give plenty of opportunity to find details with your child, this simple story shows how something as simple as a smile, can change the world! Global and fun.
By Kathryn LIttlewood, Katherine Tegen Books, 2012
My daughter’s favorite of the year! Bliss is a sweet (in more ways than one) middle grade novel about a very special family who runs a bakery in a small town. The twist is that some of their recipes are magical, things like Stone Sleep Snickerdoodles and Singing Gingersnaps that are baked to help the people around them. A touch of young romance, pesky younger siblings, plenty of adventure, and a dusting of magic make this a sure hit.
By Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao, Harper, 2012
This just moved me! Told in spare prose from the point of view of Ivan, the gorilla, who lives in a mall side-show zoo, this will make you think about what it means to be human, and about how we treat other creatures. Ivan is an artist, he is also wise and compassionate, and he helps his friends, the other animals at the mall, weather the changes that are coming. Ivan will make you cry, and then he’ll make you cheer, and ultimately, I think he’ll make you a better ape.
By Christopher Healy, illustrated by Todd Harris, Walden Pond Press, 2012
This is a fast-paced, funny, different, and definitely memorable take on fairy tale classics. Remember all those fairy tale heroes? The ones named Prince Charming, or sometimes just ‘The Prince’ who saved Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty and Snow White? Well, here is the story of four of these heroes, imperfect princes and their four improbable princesses, on a mission to save their kingdoms from an evil plot!
By Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno, Clarion Books 2012
Great Story and pictures. This is the true story of a New Jersey family with enough sons to field an entire, winning, baseball team! As the years go by, six of them go to fight overseas in WWII, and luckily, they all come home to play baseball again, raise their families, and eventually to be inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame!
By Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen, Bloomsbury 2012
Crammed with many hours’ worth of fun and knowledge, a bit like the ‘Tell Me More’ series I remember from my own child hood, or the Dangerous Book for Boys. Full of projects, suggestions for civic involvement, science experiments, history, social skills, arts, crafts, recipes, and a “Manifesto of Doing” that exhorts readers to Do what you love, develop expertise, express yourself without words, interrogate grownups, get mobile, fix stuff, make money, and share what you know”. This one WILL be under our tree this year!
By Walter Farley, originally published in 1941
This is the one I’ve read countless times — pulse pounding adventure, shipwrecks, accidents, horse races and above all, the most fabulous black horse a child could ever dream about.