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Find more Notable Children's Books
This list was compiled by the Notable Children’s Books Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). The committee, comprising librarians throughout the U.S., selected the titles from the several thousand children’s books published during 2011. Included are books of fiction, information, poetry, and pictures—all of special interest and value to children through age 14. The winners of the 2012 ALSC Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, Batchelder, Belpré, and Geisel Awards and the Honor Books for those awards are automatically included on the list. Notable Children’s Books that were given 2012 Coretta Scott King Awards, Printz Awards, and Best Fiction for Young Adult designations are noted below as well.
A Ball for Daisy. By Chris Raschka. Illus. by the author. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $19.99 (9780375858611).
The most prized possession of an irrepressible little dog is accidently destroyed in this wordless picture book. A buoyant tale of loss, recovery, and friendship. The 2012 Caldecott Medal winner.
Blackout. By John Rocco. Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion, $16.99(9781423121909).
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, $15.95 (9781561455607).
Rhyming couplets and colorful, identifiable illustrations remind readers that birds vary in many ways, but all have feathers and are hatched from eggs. Just the right amount of information for preschool ornithologists.
The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred. By Samantha R. Vamos. Illus. by Rafael López. Charlesbridge, $17.95 (9781580892421).
Nothing is better than a delicious bowl of arroz con leche, especially if a host of farm animals have a hand in the preparation! A 2012 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book.
Chirchir Is Singing. By Kelly Cunnane. Illus. by Jude Daly. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780375861987).
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, $16.99 (9781609050627).
This book playfully challenges children’s concepts about the growth capacity of living versus nonliving things in a fun and engaging way.
Dot. By Patricia Intriago. Illus. by the author. Farrar, $14.99 (9780374318352).
To a child’s delight, bright dots and brief rhyming verses cleverly demonstrate antonyms and synonyms.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. By Sherri Duskey Rinker. Illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle, $16.99 (9780811877824).
Truck-loving toddlers will be tucked into bed along with the vehicles introduced in this superbly constructed good-night poem.
Grandpa Green. By Lane Smith. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (9781596436077).
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 and Friends, $16.99 (9780312642617).
A poignant depiction of grief and acceptance at the loss of a beloved pet is shown in this quietly moving story, whose illustrations add emotional depth.
I Broke My Trunk! By Mo Willems. Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion, $8.99 (9781423133094).
Piggie is very concerned about his best friend, Gerald the Elephant, who has broken his trunk, as 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, $15.99 (9780763655983).
After losing his red pointy hat, Bear politely and patiently questions his fellow forest dwellers as to its whereabouts. A 2012 Geisel Honor Book.
King Jack and the Dragon. By Peter Bently. Illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Dial, $17.99 (9780803736986).
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, $16.99 (9780547428628).
Raschka’s pictures give distinct personalities to these endearments’ subjects. The book is a reminder of how much children are loved in every language and culture.
Little White Rabbit. By Kevin Henkes. Illus. by the author. Greenwillow, $16.99 (9780062006424).
A 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, $15.99 (9780316045469).
Watching birds and squirrels in her yard, a young girl discovers the joy and wonder of nature. A glimpse into the childhood of renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book.
Mouse & Lion. By Rand Burkert. Illus. by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. Scholastic/Michael di Capua, $17.95 (9780545101479).
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, $16.99 (9780763642426).
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 Li Qiong Yu. Illus. by Zhu Chen Liang. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763658816).
In this tender story, vibrant illustrations highlight a young girl’s joy when her father makes his annual visit for Chinese New Year.
Over and under the Snow. By Kate Messner. Illus. by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle, $16.99 (9780811867849).
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, $16.99 (9781596434684).
In this quietly humorous picture book, Prudence wants a pet and tries out a branch, a twig, a shoe, her little brother, a tire, and sea buddies until her parents finally give her a kitten.
See Me Run. By Paul Meisel. Illus. by the author. Holiday, $14.95 (9780823423491).
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. Disney/Hyperion, $8.99 (9781423143437).
A common human problem is posed and solved with Willems’ minimal illustration and graceful humor.
Stars. By Mary Lyn Ray. Illus. by Marla Frazee. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $16.99 (9781442422490).
A duet of spare, poetic observations and ethereal illustrations explores the realities and possibilities of many kinds of stars and embraces the immediacy of a child’s experiences. A great read-aloud.
Tales for Very Picky Eaters. By Josh Schneider. Illus. by the author. Clarion, $14.99 (9780547149561).
Five chapters recount James’ refusal to eat any more disgusting, smelly, repulsive, lumpy, or slimy food. The 2012 Geisel Medal winner.
Tell Me the Day Backwards. By Albert Lamb. Illus. by David McPhail. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763650551).
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. Illus. by Lois Ehlert. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $17.99 (9781442433854).
Ten different caterpillars inch their way across vibrant environs in this newly illustrated, rhyming story. Ehlert’s collages are remarkably entomologically accurate; supplemental facts widen the book’s usefulness.
These Hands. By Margaret H. Mason. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. Houghton, $16.99 (9780547215662).
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.
Tía Isa Wants a Car. By Meg Medina. Illus. by Claudio Muñoz. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763641566).
Employing a cheerful, positive style, Medina depicts the warm relationship between Tia Isa and her niece and shows the strength of community as a lifelong dream is realized.
Where’s Walrus? By Stephen Savage. Illus. by the author. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780439700498).
Walrus escapes from the zoo and cleverly disguises himself as he roams around the city. The zookeeper (and the reading audience) 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, $15.99 (9780763629311).
In a cheerful, easy tone, Harris explains who’s got what body parts, their similarities and differences. Girls, boys, adults of many ethnicities—even animals—are included in the loose-lined illustrations depicting the “bare” facts.
America Is under Attack: September 11, 2001; The Day the Towers Fell. By Don Brown. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (9781596436947).
A straightforward account of the September 11 tragedy, Brown’s restrained watercolors and sensitive text focus on the small stories of those who were in the Towers and the people who responded to the disaster.
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. By Melissa Sweet. Illus. by the author. Houghton, $16.99 (9780547199450).
This book introduces Tony Sarg, the artistic inventor who conceived the huge balloons that float through New York City each Thanksgiving, and joyously celebrates his life’s creative process. The 2012 Sibert Medal winner.
Breaking Stalin’s Nose. By Eugene Yelchin. Illus. by the author. Holt, $15.99 (9780805092165).
On the eve of his induction into the Young Pioneers, Sasha finds his world overturned when his father is arrested by Stalin’s guard. A 2012 Newbery Honor Book.
The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale. By Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright. Illus. by Barry Moser. Peachtree, $16.95 (9781561455959).
Alley-cat Skilley finds a perfect home, gets help from a friend in returning an injured raven to the Tower of London, and saves all the Cheshire Cheese Inn mice from the evil Pinch.
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours. By Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the author. Abrams, $16.95 (9780810997318).
The accomplishments of Mexican painter, activist, and muralist Diego Rivera are highlighted in stylized illustrations. The 2012 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner.
Dream Something Big: The Story of the Watts Towers. By Dianna Hutts Aston. Illus. by Susan L. Roth. Dial, $17.99 (9780803732452).
The human desire to make a mark is celebrated in this fictionalized account of Simon Rodia’s process in building the Watts Towers—a singular, eccentric, artistic creation now recognized as a national landmark.
E-mergency. By Tom Lichtenheld. Illus. by Ezra Fields-Meyer. Chronicle, $16.99 (9780811878982).
When the letter E falls down the stairs and hurts her leg, the rest of the alphabet must do the best it can to limp along without its most-used letter. Puns aplenty pack every page.
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems. By Kristine O’Connell George. Illus. by Nancy Carpenter. Clarion, $16.99 (9780618428427).
Sisterhood is complicated: partly embarrassing, partly affectionate, partly competitive, partly supportive, partly confining, and partly empowering. The relationship’s many facets are deftly described in George’s poems and Carpenter’s pen-and-ink drawings.
The Great Migration: Journey to the North. By Eloise Greenfield. Illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. Harper, $16.99 (9780061259210).
Muted mixed-media illustrations set the tone for the somber yet hopeful free verse honoring the author’s family as they journey to the North from the Jim Crow South. A haunting view of a pivotal moment in U.S. history. A 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.
Inside Out and Back Again. By Thanhha Lai. HarperCollins, $15.99 (9780061962783).
Hà and her family flee war-torn Vietnam for the American South. In spare, vivid verse, she chronicles her struggle to find her place in a new world. A 2012 Newbery Honor Book.
Junonia. By Kevin Henkes. Illus. by the author. Greenwillow, $15.99 (9780061964176).
Alice knows just how her vacation on Sanibel Island should be: the same as the previous nine, except that this year she hopes to find a rare junonia shell. However, Alice’s tenth birthday brings unexpected changes.
Lemonadeand Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word
. By Bob Raczka. Illus. by Nancy Doniger. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (9781596435414).
Think of a word, then compose a poem using only the letters in that word. Amusing challenges for poet and reader alike, these poem-puzzles are illustrated with similarly playful brush-paintings. Great fun for the classroom and budding poets.
The Lily Pond. By Annika Thor. Tr. by Linda Schenck. Delacorte, $16.99 (9780385740395).
This sequel to A Faraway Island (2009) continues the story of 13-year-old Stephie Steiner, a Jewish refugee whose parents have sent her from Nazi-occupied Vienna to Sweden. A 2012 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book.
The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families. By Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. Illus. by Susan L. Roth. Lee & Low, $19.95 (9781600604591).
Through a “this is the house that Jack built” formula, the story of an ecological and environmental triumph is told so that even very young children can understand the interrelationships between plants, animals, and people.
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina. By Monica Brown. Illus. by Sara Palacios. Children’s Book Press, $17.95 (9780892392353).
Bright, vivacious Marisol, a Peruvian Scottish American girl, loves peanut-butter and jelly burritos and speaks both English and Spanish, but her teacher and classmates do not appreciate Marisol’s mash up of cultures. A 2012 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book.
Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel. By Xavier Garza. Illus. by the author. Cinco Puntos, $12.95 (9781933693989).
Eleven-year-old Max discovers that his favorite Lucha Libre wrestler is coming to town and might have a strange connection with his own family. A 2012 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.
Migrant. By Maxine Trottier. Illus. by Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood, $18.95 (9780888999757).
This unique story about a group of migrant workers—Mennonites—is told through the eyes of young Anna, who reflects upon their peripatetic life and the hardships it creates.
Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic. By Robert Burleigh. Illus. by Wendell Minor. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman, $16.99 (9781416967330).
Sit with Amelia Earhart in her red Vega as she flies across the Atlantic and startles a farmer in Northern Ireland by landing in his field.
No Ordinary Day. By Deborah Ellis. Groundwood, $16.95 (9781554981342).
Valli, a resourceful, homeless nine-year-old, learns she has leprosy. An encounter with a kind doctor gives her the chance to heal and find a home. This sensitive story illuminates harsh realities in contemporary India.
Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists. Ed. by Chris Duffy. Illus. by Patrick McDonnell and others. Roaring Brook/First Second, $18.99 (9781596436008).
A lively compilation of 50 nursery rhymes interpreted and illustrated in diverse and distinctive styles by different cartoonists or graphic artists. The introduction, by Leonard Marcus, puts it all in focus.
Soldier Bear. By Bibi Dumon Tak. Illus. by Philip Hopman. Tr. by Laura Watkinson. Eerdmans, $13 (9780802853752).
Based on a true story and set during WWII, the novel follows the journey of refugee Polish soldiers and the mischievous young bear they acquire in the Iranian desert. The 2012 Mildred L. Batchelder Award winner.
The Third Gift. By Linda Sue Park. Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Clarion, $16.99 (9780547201955).
Ibatoulline’s sumptuous, highly finished gouaches invite the reader into a distant time and landscape, where a young Arab boy and his father harvest myrrh for three mysterious strangers.
Thunder Birds: Nature’s Flying Predators. By Jim Arnosky. Illus. by the author. Sterling, $14.95 (9781402756610).
Arnosky describes and illustrates the qualities of magnificent raptors. Distinctive acrylic-and-chalk paintings depict birds gazing at readers from their natural environments. Four large foldout pages show some birds in actual size.
Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters. By Donna Jo Napoli. Illus. by Christina Balit. National Geographic, $24.95 (9781426308444).
From the chaos that spawned Gaia to the horrors of the Trojan War, this is the most comprehensive and lavishly illustrated compendium of Greek mythology since the D’Aulaires’ classic. Time line, cast of characters, and map appended.
The Trouble with May Amelia. By Jennifer L. Holm. Illus. by Adam Gustavson. Atheneum, $15.99 (9781416913733).
May Amelia is always in trouble but never more than when she translates an offer from a con man for her father. A companion to Our Only May Amelia (1999), it stands sturdily on its own.
Underground. By Shane Evans. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (9781596435384).
Spare text describes a long, dangerous nighttime journey on the Underground Railroad. The striking illustrations, with their dark palette, burst into light as the travelers reach freedom. The 2012 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner.
The Unforgotten Coat. By Frank Cottrell Boyce. Illus. by Carl Hunter and Clare Heney. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763657291).
In this offbeat, haunting story, Julie recalls her sixth-year classmates, two Mongolian brothers, Chingis and Nergui; their strange Polaroid photographs; their sketchy descriptions of Mongolia; and their very real fear of demons.
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps. By Jeanette Winter. Illus. by the author. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780375867743).
Winter presents inquisitive and independent Goodall from girlhood to the Gombe Stream and beyond in her search to understand chimpanzees. Stylized acrylics show the scientist and animals in the abundant foliage of Africa.
Wonderstruck. By Brian Selznick. Illus. by the author. Scholastic, $29.99 (9780545027892).
Two parallel stories, set 50 years apart, converge in this rich textual and visual tale starring adventurous young seekers Ben and Rose. 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults and a 2012 Schneider Family Book Award winner.
Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. By Lee Wardlaw. Illus. by Eugene Yelchin. Holt, $16.99 (9780805089950).
From an animal-shelter cage to a loving home, Won Ton’s experience is told from his point of view in senryu, a form of Japanese poetry similar to haiku.
Young Fredle. By Cynthia Voigt. Illus. by Louise Yates. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375864575).
Exiled from his home in the pantry, Fredle, a mouse with a sweet tooth and unusual curiosity, discovers the wonders and dangers of the outside world. He learns to question the rules and returns home a changed mouse.
Zita the Spacegirl. By Ben Hatke. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/First Second, $17.99 (9781596436954).
When a little red button crashes to Earth, any self-respecting graphic-novel character would push it. Joseph is whisked through an interdimensional portal to an alien planet, and Zita follows to rescue him.
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. By Candace Fleming. illus. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $18.99 (9780375841989).
In her clear, readable style, Fleming shows how Earhart captured the public imagination. Chapters of background information alternate with the chilling account of her final flight. Enhanced with maps, archival documents, news photos, and other contemporary sources.
Anya’s Ghost. By Vera Brosgol. Illus. by the author. First Second, $19.99 (9781596437135).
This graphic novel tells the story of Anya, a Russian immigrant, whose lack of self-esteem changes when her life is almost taken over by a determined ghost. A 2012 Top 10 Great Graphic Novel for Teens.
Between Shades of Gray. By Ruta Sepetys. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399254123).
Stalin’s deportation and imprisonment of Lithuanian families in Siberia is brought to vivid life in Sepetys’ searing novel, narrated by 15-year-old Lina, who begins, “They took me in my nightgown.” A 2012 William C. Morris Award Finalist and 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Billions of Years, Amazing Changes: The Story of Evolution. By Laurence Pringle. Illus. by Steve Jenkins. Boyds Mills, $17.95 (9781590787236).
Pringle looks at the evidence from geology, biology, botany, and scientific reason to explain evolution. A readable text and pertinent illustrations matter-of-factly clarify concepts and the meaning of theory.
Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor. By Larry Brimner. illus. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek, $16.95 (9781590787663).
This powerful examination of a crucial dichotomy in the civil rights movement focuses on two polar opposites—one man committed to ending segregation, and one just as determined to see it maintained. A 2012 Sibert Honor Book.
Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917. By Sally M. Walker. illus. Holt, $18.99 (9780805089455).
Clear and compelling analysis of scientific evidence and descriptions of historic events bring this little-known tragedy to life. The history is made personal by its focus on five families, some who survived and some who perished.
Bluefish. By Pat Schmatz. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763653347).
The significance of reading is personified by two eighth-graders, functionally illiterate Travis and feisty, starved-for-affection Velveeta, who come together in a tenuous, prickly relationship.
Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition. By Karen Blumenthal. illus. Roaring Brook/Flash Point, $18.99 (9781596434493).
Lively prose and interesting anecdotes make the history of Prohibition accessible, while the examination of unintended consequences makes this photo-essay relevant to today’s political world. A 2012 YALSA Nonfiction Finalist.
Dead End in Norvelt. By Jack Gantos. Farrar, $15.99 (9780374379933).
An achingly funny romp through a dying New Deal town. While mopping up epic nose bleeds, Jack narrates this screwball mystery in an endearing and believable voice. The 2012 Newbery Medal winner and 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Drawing from Memory. By Allen Say. Illus. by the author. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545176866).
Say, an esteemed children’s book creator, engagingly relays his early training, including the influences of his family and his artistic sense. A 2012 Sibert Honor Book.
The Elephant Scientist. By Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson. Illus. by Caitlin O’Connell and Timothy Rodwell. Houghton, $17.99 (9780547053448).
Power-packed photos and prose transport readers to the dusty world of African elephants and a woman who studies them. A 2012 Sibert Honor Book.
The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman. By Meg Wolitzer. Dutton, $16.99 (9780525423041).
Three 12-year-olds from different parts of the country participate in the national Youth Scrabble Tournament in Florida. Their discoveries about themselves and their friends and families turn out to be more important than winning in this perceptive story.
Flyaway. By Lucy Christopher. Scholastic/Chicken House, $16.99 (9780545317719).
While Isla’s father is in the hospital, she befriends another patient, Harry. In this touching story, Isla tries to help Harry, her father, and a swan, all of whom are struggling to survive.
Hidden. By Helen Frost. Farrar/Frances Foster, $16.99 (9780374382216).
Six years have passed since Darra’s father stole a car in which Wren was hiding. Now 14, Darra and Wren, once again cross paths. A suspenseful verse novel told in two distinct voices.
The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China. By Ed Young and Libby Koponen. Illus. by Ed Young. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316076289).
With multimedia scrapbook images that intrigue, astonish, and surprise, Young recalls his childhood in war-torn Shanghai, introduces his extended family, and describes their life in the house his father designed.
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. By Georgia Bragg. Illus. by Kevin O’Malley. Walker, $17.99 (9780802798176).
A wildly humorous collective biography featuring horrifying medical treatments and the deaths of 19 famous men and women, this surprisingly heavily researched compendium is terrific book bait for reluctant readers.
Hurricane Dancers. By Margarita Engle. Holt, $16.99 (9780805092400).
This historical novel-in-verse is the story of Quebrado, son of a Taíno Indian mother and a Spanish father, who is kidnapped in 1510 from his island village (present-day Cuba) and enslaved on a pirate’s ship. A 2012 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.
Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air. By Stewart Ross. Illus. by Stephen Biesty. Candlewick, $19.99 (9780763649487).
How did those great explorers travel? What did they wear? Where did they pee? And what did they find on their journeys? Much is revealed in the text and unfolding cross-sections of this fascinating volume.
Jefferson’s Sons. By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Dial, $17.99 (9780803734999).
Told from the point of view of three young slaves, two of them fathered by Thomas Jefferson, this well- researched and moving novel provides insight into their lives as it raises important and difficult questions.
Lost & Found. By Shaun Tan. Illus. by the author. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $21.99 (9780545229241).
By turns mysterious, dreamlike, nightmarish, goofily endearing, and spookily surreal these stories transport readers to three very different worlds. Each page is a work of art.
A Monster Calls. By Patrick Ness. Illus. by Jim Kay. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763655594).
Thirteen-year-old Conor deals with a monster who tells him three stories in exchange for facing his greatest fear. An arresting combination of text and art. 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein. By Susan Goldman Rubin. illus. Charlesbridge, $19.95 (9781580893442).
This exemplary, inspiring biography chronicles the life of Leonard Bernstein from early childhood to his triumphant debut at age 25 as conductor of the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. The engaging social history adds appeal beyond music lovers. A 2012 YALSA Nonfiction Finalist.
Okay for Now. By Gary D. Schmidt. illus. Clarion, $16.99 (9780547152608).
Unable to read and abused by his father, 13-year-old Doug befriends spunky Lili and a sensitive librarian, who shows him how to draw Audubon’s birds. Both make a difference in his previously limited world. 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Queen of Hearts. By Martha Brooks. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374342296).
In 1941 Manitoba, Marie-Claire tells the moving story of her coming-of-age as a 16-year-old in a tuberculosis sanatorium. 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Raggin’, Jazzin’, Rockin’: A History of American Musical Instrument Makers. By Susan VanHecke. illus. Boyds Mills, $17.95 (9781590785744).
Steinway on pianos, Zildjian on cymbals, Martin and Fender on guitars. We meet these creators and their iconic instruments in this intriguing introduction. Generously illustrated with photographs of the instruments, musicians, and more.
The Scorpio Races. By Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545224901).
Deadly horses emerge from the sea and collide with island inhabitants in a bloody annual race for prize money and the fulfillment of dreams. Rich language portrays characters, action, and setting, leading to an intoxicating climax. A 2012 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Sita’s Ramayana. By Samhita Arni. Illus. by Moyna Chitrakar. Groundwood, $24.95 (9781554981458).
Using a graphic-novel format, this powerful saga of Rama is told from his abducted and mistrusted wife’s point of view.
Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time: What the Hubble Telescope Saw. By Elaine Scott. illus. Clarion, $17.99 (9780547241890).
An intriguing look at the creation and scientific revelations of the Hubble telescope. Complex science, clearly explained and beautifully illustrated with Hubble images.
Stones for My Father. By Trilby Kent. Tundra, $19.95 (9781770492523).
In evocative prose, Kent creates a compelling survival story of young Corlie Roux, a Boer girl in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the last century.
Tall Story. By Candy Gourlay. Random/David Fickling, $16.99 (9780385752176).
Andi’s half brother is finally joining the family from the Philippines. At eight feet tall, it’s obvious that Bernardo is going to have trouble fitting in. A poignant and humorous novel.
Terezín: Voices from the Holocaust. By Ruth Thomson. illus. Candlewick, $18.99 (9780763649630).
Secret diary entries, excerpts from memoirs, and inmate artwork illuminate the dark story of the Nazi transit camp Terezín.
Under the Mesquite. By Guadalupe Garcia McCall. Lee & Low, $18.95 (9781600604294).
The story of 14-year-old Lupita, growing up in a bicultural community in Texas and dealing with her mother’s terminal illness, is told in emotionally riveting free verse. The 2012 Belpré Author Medal winner, a 2012 William C. Morris Award Finalist, and 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem. By Rosalyn Schanzer. Illus. by the author. National Geographic, $16.95 (9781426308697).
Readers will be amazed by the accusations in this pivotal drama of American history. Well researched, this handsome book presents an account of our past and asks questions about our future. A 2012 Sibert Honor Book.
All the Water in the World. By George Ella Lyon. Illus. by Katherine Tillotson. Atheneum, $15.99 (9781416971306).
From deserts to the kitchen sink, the water cycle is lyrically yet economically described in Lyon’s poem emphasizing the importance of water conservation. Digital paintings splash, surge and drip off the page.
Can We Save the Tiger? By Martin Jenkins. Illus. by Vicky White. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763649098).
White’s cover illustration of a regal tiger pulls readers into a balanced discussion of human interaction with nature and how we affect endangered species. Handsome pencil illustrations make readers care about creatures large and small.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. By Kadir Nelson. Illus. by the author. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, $19.99 (9780061730740).
In just 100 pages, Nelson’s narrator tells the story of American history through the eyes of African Americans. Forty-six luminous oil paintings portray iconic and ordinary images and make the history accessible for young people; older students will find it equally intriguing. The 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner and a 2012 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book.
If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet. By Leslie McGuirk. Illus. by the author. Tricycle, $17.99 (9781582463704).
Children and teachers will be inspired by this quirky concept book, which uses shaped rocks as letters and objects. An alphabet book like no other.
Never Forgotten. By Patricia McKissack. Illus. by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $18.99 (9780375843846).
A boy captured by slave traders in eighteenth-century Africa is brought to the Americas. This verse novel answers the question asked by the descendants of stolen slaves: “Were we missed?” A 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.
Press Here. By Hervé Tullet. Illus. by the author. Chronicle, $14.99 (9780811879545).
A whimsical, interactive picture book that draws readers through its pages by having them tap, clap, and follow other simple but enticing instructions.
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. By Joyce Sidman. Illus. by Beth Krommes. Houghton, $16.99 (9780547315836).
A poem about spirals in nature invites close contemplation of the versatile, expansive shape beautifully portrayed in Krommes’ scratchboard illustrations, from simple snail to coiled snake, snuggling woodchuck to swimming nautilus.
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