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Best of 2011: Children's Books

Updated: September 27, 2012

These are the best and most popular children's books of the year - perfect for holiday gift-giving.

11 Experiments That Failed
Offill, Jenny, 1968-
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 8. Young scientists will laugh as they learn the answers to such scientific questions as 'Can a kid make it through the winter eating only snow and ketchup?'

Al Pha's bet
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse.
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 7. A funny explanation of how a prehistoric man named Al Pha arranged the letters of the alphabet. Full of puns and silly illustrations.

The astonishing secret of Awesome Man
Chabon, Michael.
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 7. Incredible action scenes and the reveal of Awesome Man's secret make this a truly awesome read.

Bedtime bunnies
Watson, Wendy.
Call Number: xz

Ages 2 to 5. Minimal text that's fun to say ('Skip, Scamper, Scurry, Hop/ Chomp, Munch, Gobble, Crunch...') accompanies five bunny siblings as they go through their bedtime routine.

The biggest, bestest time ever!
McCranie, Stephen, 1987-
Call Number: x GN

Ages 7 to 10. With adventures that feature shrinking, time travel, and dinosaurs, this graphic novel is a surefire hit - especially for fans of Calvin and Hobbs.

Ursu, Anne.
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 13. When Jack is stolen away by the Snow Queen, his best friend Hazel enters a dangerous, magical forest to bring him back home.

The classic treasury of childhood wonders : favorite adventures, stories, poems, and songs for making lasting memories
Call Number: x 790 C6145

Ages 9 and up. An absolute jewel of a book, filled with poems, stories, and songs, plus crafts and activities that enhance the literature. Teachers, parents, and caregivers will love this.

Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly
Parkhurst, Carolyn, 1971-
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 7. Enjoy the hilariously realistic interactions of 5-year-old Henry and his 2-year-old sister Eleanor as they pretend to be chefs on a TV reality show. A laugh-out-loud comedy.

Detective Blue
Metzger, Steve.
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 7. Nursery rhyme characters take on new, but somewhat familiar, roles in this comic book-style mystery featuring the dedicated flatfoot formerly known as Little Boy Blue.

Diary of a wimpy kid : cabin fever
Kinney, Jeff.
Call Number: x

Ages 8 and up. Book 6 of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Need we say more?

Don't let Auntie Mabel bless the table
Newton, Vanessa.
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 7. Auntie Mabel's prayer goes on so long the food gets cold. Will anyone get to eat? An exuberant, multiracial, multigenerational gathering is depicted.

Dream something big : the story of the Watts Towers
Aston, Dianna Hutts.
Call Number: x 729 A856

Ages 5 to 10. A little girl watches "Uncle Sam," an Italian immigrant, create magic out of other people's trash in her Los Angeles neighborhood. Fabulous collages evoke the Towers and stir the imagination.

The emerald atlas
Stephens, John.
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 12. A satisfying and lively adventure fantasy that is being compared to the Harry Potter and Narnia books.

Every thing on it : poems and drawings
Silverstein, Shel.
Call Number: x 811 S587-5

All ages. This posthumous collection of poems and illustrations is chock full of the whimsical humor, eccentric characters, and iconoclastic glee that his many fans adore.

Fear itself
Clements, Andrew, 1949-
Call Number: x

Ages 8 to 12. In this suspenseful second volume in the series We the Children, Benjamin and Jill try to save their seaside school.

Frogs are funny! : the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational Muppets joke book ever!
Snider, Brandon T.
Call Number: x 793.8 S672

Ages 5 to 10. Muppets fans of all ages will love this big book jam-packed with photos, jokes, and tons of fun.

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
Nelson, Kadir.
Call Number: x 305 N427

Gr. 4 and up. An unnamed narrator (based on Nelson's grandmother) tells the story of African Americans from before the American Revolution to the election of Barack Obama. Gorgeously illustrated and compellingly told.

Hooray for Amanda & her alligator!
Willems, Mo.
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 7. A girl's adventures with her toy alligator provide another delight from this child-pleasing author.

How to get a job, by me, the boss
Lloyd-Jones, Sally, 1960-
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 10. The smart and savvy young narrator of How to Be a Baby turns her attention to this very timely topic. Children and grown-ups will appreciate the utter absurdity and glorious hopefulness.

I must have Bobo
Rosenthal, Eileen.
Call Number: xz

Ages 3 to 6. This fun read-aloud gets to the heart of a child's attachment to a beloved toy.

I spy with my little eye
Gibbs, Edward
Call Number: xz

Ages 3 to 7. Little ones will love this animal guessing game masquerading as a beautifully illustrated book. Includes holes in the covers and pages.

I want my hat back
Klassen, J.
Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 7. Bear asks every animal he sees about his missing hat. Hmm - where could it be? Observant young readers will know!

Is everyone ready for fun?
Thomas, Jan, 1958-
Call Number: xz

Kids will want to hear this silly book over and over. It may even get them on their feet to jump and wiggle with those crazy cows!

Leap back home to me
Thompson, Lauren, 1962-
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 6. A sweet book about exploring boundaries while staying connected to home and family.

Let's count to 100!
Sebe, Masayuki, 1953-
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 6. A terrific exercise in observation and grouping things into sets, this image-packed book will provide hours of amusement.

Lottie Paris lives here
Johnson, Angela, 1961-
Call Number: xz
PreK-Gr. 2. Like her literary predecessors Eloise and Olivia, Lottie is exuberant and inquisitive, imaginative and exhausting. Spend a day with Lottie and her Papa Pete in their little house across the street from the park.

Lucky for good
Patron, Susan, 1948-
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 12. The funny and thoughtful third book in the Hard Pan trilogy by Newbery Award-winning Susan Patron.

The medusa plot
Korman, Gordon.
Call Number: x

Ages 8 to 10. The very popular 39 Clues series continues with Cahills versus Vespers.

Call Number: xz

Ages 5 to 8. A day in the life of two children, one in Australia and one in Morocco, unfolds through two separate wordless stories that can be viewed simultaneously.

The mostly true story of Jack
Barnhill, Kelly Regan.
Call Number: x

Ages 10 to 13. This is life in your average small American town - that just happens to be inhabited by an ancient and dangerous magical entity.

Mother Goose picture puzzles
Hillenbrand, Will.
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 7. Mother Goose rhymes get a fresh presentation and an interactive gloss in this large, attractively illustrated book. Each rhyme is a rebus, which makes this a particularly good version to share with beginning readers.

Old Bear and his cub
Dunrea, Olivier.
Call Number: xz

Ages 3 to 6. This heart-warming story perfectly captures the give-and-take dynamic between parent and child.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
Birdsall, Jeanne.
Call Number: x

Ages 8 to 13. The Penderwick sisters' 3rd adventure brings them back in full entertaining force. From start to finish, this is a summer holiday to savor.

The power of cute
Harper, Charise Mericle.
Call Number: xz

Ages 4 to 10. An unnamed tiny baby takes down a big scary monster with her superpower: The Power of Cute! Once she has that monster shrunk down to size, she takes him home to her Cute Little Monster House with all the other vanquished monsters. Includes flaps, wheels, and one pop-up. Super cute!

Queen of the Falls
Van Allsburg, Chris.
Call Number: x 92 T238Va

Grades 2-5.

Distinctive art enhances this story of an unlikely daredevil. 62-year-old widow Annie Taylor was the first person and only woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel by herself - and survive! Oddly relevant in today's reality television world.

Rage of the fallen
Delaney, Joseph, 1945-
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 12. Book 8 of the popular Last Apprentice series. A must for fans!

Santat, Dan.
Call Number: x GN

When a peanut allergy sidelines Captain Amazing, his pets step into action. This graphic novel has everything you could ask for in a superhero story - and more!

Spiky, slimy, smooth : what is texture?
Brocket, Jane.
Call Number: x 612 B864

Ages 4 to 7. This terrific concept book focuses on the sense of touch while providing rich vocabulary and amazing imagery.

Top 10 deadliest sharks
Brusha, Joe.
Call Number: x 597.3 B912

Ages 8 and up. This nonfiction graphic book uses full-color realistic art and fascinating facts to thrill and inform young shark fans.

Treasury of Greek mythology : classic stories of gods, goddesses, heroes & monsters
Napoli, Donna Jo, 1948-
Call Number: x 292 N216 folio

Ages 10 and up. From the language to the sumptuous illustrations, everything about this treasury is gorgeous. A must for fans of Greek mythology.

The ultimate dinopedia : the most complete dinosaur reference ever
Lessem, Don.
Call Number: x 568 L638-12

Ages 8 to 11. This lavishly illustrated book is jam-packed with every bit of information a dinosaur fanatic could want.

Meloy, Colin.
Call Number: x

Ages 9 to 13. When a baby is kidnapped by evil crows, a boy and girl enter a Narnia-like magical wilderness to rescue him. A great blend of adventure story and fantasy.

The Wizard of Oz : a scanimation book
Seder, Rufus Butler.
Call Number: xz

All ages. Featuring 10 iconic scenes from the beloved movie, this book will wow kids and adults with its "scanimation" technology.

Selznick, Brian.
Call Number: x

Ages 9 and up. Another visual feast of a historical novel from the Caldecott Award-winning author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Zita the spacegirl
Hatke, Ben.
Call Number: x GN

Ages 8 to 10 Feeling responsible for getting her best friend kidnapped by aliens, Zita follows him through an intergalactic portal to a planet headed towards destruction. A rollicking graphic novel.