The New York Times just released their list of the best Children’s Books published in 2013. We selected the 10 best picture books we highly recommend as gifts for any preschooler to second-grader you know. Don’t delay – buy them now for the child you love!
The Bear’s Song (Benjamin Chaud) ~ "Sweet" has new meaning in this richly illustrated, immersive picture book about two bears on a big-city adventure. Papa Bear is searching for Little Bear, who has escaped the den. Little Bear is following a bee, because where there are bees, there is honey! When the quest leads both bears into the bustling city and a humming opera house, theatrical hijinks ensue, culminating in a deliciously harmonious reunion. Children and parents alike will savor Benjamin Chaud’s lush illustrations, and relish in the book’s bonus seek-and-find elements. Recommended for ages 3-6.
Bluebird (Bob Staake) ~ In his most beautiful and moving work to date, Bob Staake explores the universal themes of loneliness, bullying, and the importance of friendship. In this emotional picture book, readers will be captivated as they follow the journey of a bluebird as he develops a friendship with a young boy and ultimately risks his life to save the boy from harm. Both simple and evocative, this timeless and profound story will resonate with readers young and old. Bob Staake has been working on this book for 10 years, and he believes it is the story he was born to write. "Like nothing you have seen before," raves Kirkus Reviews in a starred review. Recommended for ages 4-8.
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbably Life of Paul Erdos (Deborah Heiligman) ~ Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it’s true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head. But he didn’t learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he traveled around the world, from one mathematician to the next, collaborating on an astonishing number of publications. With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made "Uncle Paul" a great man. A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013. Recommended for ages 4-8.
Building Our House (Jonathan Bean) ~ In this unique construction book for kids who love tools and trucks, readers join a girl and her family as they pack up their old house in town and set out to build a new one in the country. Mom and Dad are going to make the new house themselves, from the ground up. From empty lot to finished home, every stage of their year-and-a-half-long building project is here. And at every step their lucky kids are watching and getting their hands dirty, in page after page brimming with machines, vehicles, and all kinds of house-making activities! As he imagines it through the eyes of his older sister, this is Jonathan Bean’s retelling of his own family’s true experience, and includes an afterword with photographs from the author’s collection. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book. A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013. Recommended for ages 3-7.
The Dark (Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen) ~ Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn’t come into Lazslo’s room. But one night, it does. This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark. With emotional insight and poetic economy, two award-winning talents team up to conquer a universal childhood fear. Recommended for ages 3-6.
Fog Island (Tomi Ungerer) ~ In this imaginative tale from master storyteller Tomi Ungerer, two young siblings find themselves cast away on mysterious Fog Island. No one has ever returned from the island’s murky shores, but when the children begin to explore, they discover things are not quite as they expected. Ungerer’s captivating drawings evoke the eerie beauty and magic surrounding this timeless adventure. Selected by both The New York Times and Publishers Weekly as one of the year’s best children’s books, Fog Island is destined to become a modern classic. "Tomi Ungerer has created another masterpiece," says Eric Carle. Recommended for ages 5-8.
Journey (Aaron Becker) ~ Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship. A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all. Recommended for ages 4-8.
Mr. Wuffles! (David Wiesner) ~ In a near wordless masterpiece that could only have been devised by David Wiesner, a cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble. When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The result? A humorous exploration of cooperation between aliens and insects, and of the universal nature of communication involving symbols, “cave” paintings, and gestures of friendship. Recommended for ages 4-8.
Something Big (Sylvie Neeman) ~ A big one and little one talk together. The little one is frustrated because he wants to do something really big, even though he’s still small. The big one asks if he means something big like a mountain. No, a mountain is too big. Big like an elephant? No, that’s too gray. More like a lighthouse by the sea, muses the boy, though not exactly. Father and son take a walk by the ocean, and there something surprising and deep and big occurs. Lyrical and gentle, Something Big is a touching story about childhood, parenting, and experiences that repeat generation after generation. Here the author beautifully grasps the tension between a child’s smallness and his ability to dream big dreams. Recommended for ages 4-8.
This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration (Jacqueline Woodson) ~ The story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother. Newbery Honor–winning author Jacqueline Woodson and Coretta Scott King Award–winning illustrator James Ransome use the rope to frame a thoughtful and moving story as readers follow the little girl’s journey. During the time of the Great Migration, millions of African American families relocated from the South, seeking better opportunities. With grace and poignancy, Woodson’s lilting storytelling and Ransome’s masterful oil paintings of country and city life tell a rich story of a family adapting to change as they hold on to the past and embrace the future. Recommended for ages 5-8.