The best children's books of the year, as selected by LAPL librarians. Perfect for holiday gift-giving!
(Grades 2-4) Kitty decides to run for President of the Neighborhood Cat Club. Let's hope he’s registered! There may be a surprise winner thanks to Old Kitty's absentee vote! Includes hilarious glossary of election terms.
(Grades 3 and up) The strange and mysterious world of black holes explained simply and with humor. Covers the life cycles of stars, the formation of black holes, and the weird optical and physical effects associated with them. Captivating illustrations, stunning photographs, and explanatory diagrams will appeal to all ages.
(Grades 1-4) Rosenstock’s accessible text and Gerstein’s vibrant illustrations pair well to tell the story of a little-known historical camping trip that spurred the creation of national parks and protected public wilderness. Gerstein’s illustrations admirably capture Roosevelt’s exuberance, Muir’s passion, and Yosemite’s awe-inspiring beauty.
(Grades 4 and up) A new family continues the legend that is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with wild adventures, improbable coincidences, and no small amount of humor. First in a trilogy.
(K – Grade 1) This charming picture book debut features rhyming text and a series of surprises as the dog turns out to be a cat in a zip-up dog costume, who subsequently is actually a squid in a zip-up cat costume, who unzipped again becomes a moose, and at last returns to being a dog again! The heavily outlined animals have loads of personality reminiscent of Kevin Sherry’s creatures, but with a slightly retro woodcut style. An imaginative delight!
(K – Grade 3) Annabelle, a young girl living in a black and white town, finds a magical box with yarn in every color. Annabelle knits herself a sweater and, finding herself with extra yarn, begins to knit sweaters and cozies for the people, animals and houses of her monochromatic world. Will the evil clothes-loving Archduke put a stop to her generosity?
(K-Grade 3) Unlike the bears of the original tale, these dinosaurs are actively plotting to get a visit from young Goldilocks (using clever signage and chocolate pudding). Hysterically funny, from start to finish!
(PreK – Grade 2) When you ask a child for a color, it is extremely rare that they speak in shades of color. In this unique concept book, “green” shades of color are presented to children in an easy to understand way. Children learn about the many different shades of green, and the creatures, places, and objects they color. Fresh and fabulous!
(Grades 4 and up) This fourth book in O’Connor’s Olympians series about the Greek gods shows what happens when the Lord of the Underworld sets his sights on Demeter’s daughter for his bride.
(Grades 1-4) Informational, engaging, and empowering, this book truly captures the Girl Scout spirit. Includes an appended biography of founder Juliette (Daisy) Gordon, quotations from the first Girl Scout Manual, and a list of sources.
(PreK – Grade 1) Hippo and bird best friends have a fairy tale dress up party to attend, but both have strong opinions about which of them should be the lowly vegetable from The Princess and the Pea.
(PreK – Grade 2) “What a story these clothes could tell!” In this time of austerity, many families are trying to stretch every dollar. I Like Old Clothes is a thoughtful book that presents second-hand purchases in a new light. These children revel in their used wardrobe, making what might be economic necessity fun and exciting.
(Grades 3 and up) Simple yet stunning, Chin illustrates and explains the 6 million-year evolution of the unique islands that would become known as the Galapagos. Includes brief information on Charles Darwin’s exploration and the unique species of plants and animals that live there.
(Grades 1-4) Along with vibrant illustrations by Marjorie Priceman, Winter uses playful, rhythmic language to tell of Josephine Baker's journey from a St. Louis childhood of poverty to superstar-level fame in Paris by the time she was nineteen. Her whole story can't be told in a children's picture book, but this is a wonderful introduction to the Jazz Age, and a historically important entertainer. Possible Caldecott winner?
(Grades 5 and up) Life gets a little better for Georges when he joins a mysterious Spy Club after moving from his childhood home into a small new apartment. However, his new (and only) friend Safer, who runs the club, ultimately demands too much of him. Suspenseful and thoughtful, smart and funny, Stead (Newbery medal for When You Reach Me) has another winner with this one.
(K – Grade 2) This story of a cave boy who wants a pet will make a great read-aloud for pet-themed storytimes. Will cave boy get a woolly mammoth? A saber-toothed tiger? A dodo? The happy ending will have everyone saying "Ooga!"
(Grades 5 and up) A riveting account of one small bird’s amazing migratory life - over 325,000 miles flown, the distance to the moon and halfway back! Describes the decline of its species, the threat to its habitat, and the work that scientists, environmentalists, and ordinary citizens are doing to save the birds.
(K - Grade 2) Authored by Mark E. Kelly, the last commander of LA's own space shuttle Endeavour and husband of Gabrielle Giffords. Besides all that, it's actually a good astronaut and/or mouse themed read-aloud, about a little mouse on board a shuttle mission who shows he has the "right stuff."
(Grades 3-6) Witty and irreverent, Horvath spins a fast-paced whodunit revolving around two kidnapped human hippie parents, their young and intelligent daughter Madeline, some very sly foxes, and the bunnies who fancy themselves savvy sleuths. A wacky, laugh-out-loud romp.
(PreK – Grade 1) What might happen when a young girl meets a dinosaur while shopping for groceries? Colorful, action-packed illustrations complement Sierra's delightful rhyming guessing game about the polite expressions we use in daily encounters.
(Grades 4 and up) An inspiring and engaging photo-biography about a girl who, despite the odds, became a scientist and professor while living with autism. With a love and compassion for animals, a fierce determination, and a mind unlike anyone else’s, she created a more humane cattle industry.
(Grades 1-3) Told in clever, well-metered rhyme, this spin on the Three Little Pigs features siblings who, fed up with the wolf's bullying, attend various martial arts classes. The first two brothers only go so far in their lessons, but the sister is more dedicated and becomes the ultimate vanquisher. Great pictures, too!
(Grades 4 and up) Yes, there are lots of books about the Titanic, but design and layout and photographs and interviews all give a feeling of really being there in 1912, reading about the "Queen of the Ocean" and her dreadful fate. A fine look at an always popular topic.
(Grades K-2) Three little pigs subject a frightened-looking wolf to increasingly humiliating stunts and, believe it or not, wolf won’t bite! Or will he? Emily Gravett’s hilarious, expressive illustrations are utterly delightful.
(Grades 4 and up) Though ten-year-old Auggie feels like a regular kid inside, he knows his facial deformities make the world see him as anything but normal. Told through different points of view (Auggie, his sister, school friends, etc.), this makes a satisfying read for all ages, particularly those looking for stories about family relationships, overcoming obstacles, middle school social dynamics, looking past differences, or dealing with bullies.
Moose goes from over-eager to unhappy when his place in the alphabet book gets assigned to a mouse.