Kid lit! Some of the best new books for children arrive in our office every day. These are some of our personal favorites:
by Amy Husband
Young Michael puts his creative writing skills to the test in Dear Teacher. This book is filled with letters from Michael to his teacher, explaining that he really does want to go to school, but the Secret Service has recruited him for a mission. Michael’s adventures are packed with explorers, pyramids, and pirates—but can his imagination save him from the first day of school? Ages 4–8. $8.99; sourcebooks.com.
Mr. Aesop’s Story Shop
by Bob Hartman
illustrated by Jago Silver
Age-old tales take a new turn in Mr. Aesop’s Story Shop. Bob Hartman goes beyond retelling familiar fables to imagine just exactly who Aesop was, and how he might have told his tales. Scenes from a Greek marketplace decide the tales Aesop tells each day, and morals reach the children of ancient Greece and modern readers alike. Ages 7–9; $14.99; ipgbook.com.
Far from Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage
by Sophie Webb
Author-artist Sophie Webb sails the tropical Pacific on a research vessel and brings its fascinating sea life to the page in the book Far from Shore. Young oceanographers, and anyone who wants to escape to the sea by reading a book, will be sure to gain Webb's appreciation of the ocean when they read this book. Ages 9–12. $17.99; hmhbooks.com.
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading
by Tommy Greenwald
illustrated by J.P. Coovert
Charlie Joe Jackson has never read an entire book from cover to cover. He counts on his friend Timmy to read for him in exchange for an ice cream sandwich. But when Timmy's price goes up to three sandwiches, Charlie has to decide whether to let himself be blackmailed or read an entire book. What's a non-reader to do? Greenwald's book appeals to reluctant readers with its short chapters and tips on not reading. Ages 9–12. $14.99; Mackids.com.
We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart
by Walter Dean Myers
illustrated by Christopher Myers
This picture book by the father-son team (author and illustrator) takes young readers on a moving journey through US history. With vivid lyrical free verse and mural-like paintings, kids explore what it means to be an American. Ages 4–8; $16.99; harpercollins.com.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
by Sherri Duskey Rinker
illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
As the sun sets in the big construction site, all the hard-working trucks get ready to say goodnight. Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator all finish their work and get ready to rest. This sweet bedtime tale is sure to make preschool truck lovers ready for sleep. Ages 4–8. $16.99; chroniclebooks.com.
Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?
by Susan A. Shea
illustrated by Tom Slaughter
"If a duckling grows and becomes a duck, can a car grow and become a truck?" This playful book engages young readers by asking about what can grow. Colorful illustrations and lift-the-flap pages introduce youngsters to the idea of living things that grow and inanimate objects that don't. Ages 4 and up. $16.99; blueapplebooks.com.
The Search for WondLa
by Tony DiTerlizzi
Twelve-year-old Eva Nine has never seen the sun, walked outdoors, or seen another living person. When a marauding huntsman destroys her underground home, she is desperate to find someone else who is like her. Her only clue is a scrap of cardboard showing a young girl, an adult, a robot, and the word "WondLa." Imaginative illustrations depict scenes from this fantastical tale. Readers with a webcam can use several of the illustrations to access an interactive map following Eva Nine's journey. Ages 10 and up. $17.99; simonandschuster.com.
Guinness World Records Reading
Records such as the balloon-popping dog, the world's tallest snowman, and the greediest dog are featured in these world record books, along with full-color photographs. After each passage, questions allow kids to practice reading comprehension strategies. These books come in different grade levels to cater to kids' reading abilities. $16.99; carsondellosa.com.
Bugs by the Numbers
by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss
The bugs on the pages of this book are made up of numbers—flies are made up of 6's, ants are made up of 1-2-3's, and the 150's are saved for the high-jumping fleas. All of the numbers relate to little-known facts about the incredible world of insects. This book's unique figures add up to learning and fun for young insect enthusiasts. Ages 6–12. $19.99; chroniclebooks.com.
Me . . . Jane
by Patrick McDonnell
Young animal lovers get to know the young Jane Goodall when they read this book. Jane spends her days outside observing the natural world with her toy chimpanzee Jubilee, dreaming of "a life living with and helping all animals"—and wakes up one day to find that her dream has come true. The simple text and illustrations work together to inspire children to grow up to follow their own dreams. Ages 4–8. $15.99; hachettebookgroup.com.
Mary Engelbreit's Nursery Rhymes
Familiar childhood poems come to life when Mary Engelbreit's artwork is paired with Accord's AniMotion® technology. Watch the cow jump over the moon and Jack and Jill roll down the hill. Turn the pages slowly to savor the fun. Ages 4–8. $9.99; andrewsmcmeel.com.
Look Who's There
by Martine Perrin
Uncover nature's hidden creatures in the board book Look Who's There. Die-cut pages shaped like water lilies, flowers, and seaweed show readers a hint of what critter they'll encounter on the next page, turning story time into an interactive guessing game. Ages 3 and up. $8.99; albertwhitman.com.
by Alan Gratz
Alex Metcalf is playing for the Oz Cyclones in the Ever After Baseball Tournament, and winning is his only chance at getting back to the real world. In a book where literary characters are baseball crazy and people from the real world don't technically exist, Alex faces his fears and discovers the surprising truth about himself. This book has appeal for baseball fans and avid readers alike. Ages 8–12. $16.99; penguin.com/youngreaders.
Olivia's Birds: Saving the Gulf
by Olivia Bouler
Young bird lovers will be inspired by Olivia's Birds. Eleven-year-old budding ornithologist and artist Olivia Bouler wrote and illustrated this field guide to backyard and endangered birds. Bouler was inspired to write this book to raise awareness of the birds affected by the 2010 Gulf oil spill—and she also discusses everyday ways kids of all ages can get involved and make the world cleaner and safer. Ages 3–9. $14.95; sterlingpublishing.com.
Everything Big Cats
by Elizabeth Carney
Lions, leopards, jaguars, and tigers are the focus of Everything Big Cats. Feline-loving kids will enjoy prowling through the lives of these animals and seeing how they stack up against little kittens. Real-life wildlife tips help kids become big cat experts. For ages 8–12. $15.95; shop.nationalgeographic.com.
Bring on the Birds
by Susan Stockdale
Children will discover birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors when they flip through the pages of Bring on the Birds. Simple, rhyming language and vibrant illustrations will engage young readers. A spread in the back of the book gives trivia about each of the species pictured. Ages 2–6. $15.95; peachtree-online.com.
The Unsinkable Walker Bean
by Aaron Renier
Mild, meek, and a little geeky, Walker is happiest tinkering with inventions in his grandfather's workshop. But when his grandfather is struck by a curse, it falls to Walker to summon the courage to face the direst scourges of the sea. Detailed artwork brings this swashbuckling graphic novel to life. Ages 9 and up. $13.99; us.macmillan.com.
by Suzy Lee
A dark attic, a light bulb, and a creative young girl are the key ingredients in this book. Her playtime begins as a simple shadow puppet and turns into a jungle of fun—until it's time for dinner. The illustrations in this nearly wordless book are all just black, white, and yellow, yet they clearly portray the depth of one girl's imagination. All ages. $15.99; chroniclekids.com.
by Stephen Savage
A happy-go-lucky walrus escapes from the zoo and heads on a search for adventure in Where's Walrus? With the zookeeper in hot pursuit, Walrus disguises himself amongst firefighters, businessmen, and high-stepping dancers. Kids will laugh at the clever illustrations in this wordless picture book. Ages 3 and up. $16.99; scholastic.com.
We Are Not Eaten by Yaks: An Accidental Adventure
by C. Alexander London
Adventuresome readers can pick up We Are Not Eaten by Yaks and meet Oliver and Celia Navel, who only want to stay indoors and watch television. Their parents, however, are celebrated explorers. The twins’ lives become so full of action that they decide to run away—and end up in an adventure involving falling out of airplanes, Yak butter stew, and giant waterfalls. Ages 10 and up. $12.99; us.penguingroup.com.
by Thacher Hurd
Jason lives a normal life—he goes to school and does his homework like any other kid. But then he meets a short, bluish alien named Sam, and Sam takes Jason bongo fishing in space. Things get even stranger when Jason’s cat disappears. Is the evil Dr. Zimburger involved? Or are there even more sinister forces at work? Kids will get a kick out of reading this imaginative tale. Ages 9–12. $16.99; us.macmillan.com.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
by Philip C. Stead
illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Amos McGee visits the zoo animals every day in this 2011 Caldecott winner. When sniffles and sneezes prevent him from getting to the zoo one day, his animal friends decide it's time to return the favor and visit him. Erin E. Stead's illustrations display the warmth of friendship of Philip C. Stead's story. Ages 2–6. $16.99; us.macmillan.com.
Moon Over Manifest
by Clare Vanderpool
In this 2011 Newbery Medal winner, young Abilene Tucker has been sent to live with an old friend for the summer while her father works on the railroad. Abilene's disappointment with the run-down town of Manifest soon turns to intrigue when she begins to uncover her family's past and the town's secrets. Ages 9–12. $16.99; randomhouse.com.
Bear in Love
by Samantha Davis
Bear falls in love with Bunny after just one look. But how should Bear show this love? With candy? Or maybe with a song and a dance? Read Bear in Love (Blue Apple Books, 2010) with your youngster and enjoy a sweet tale. Sophie Fatus’s playful illustrations add to this whimsical book. Ages 3 and up. $12.99; blueapplebooks.com.
String of Hearts
by Laura Malone Elliott
illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Valentines come in all shapes and sizes. In this book, Sam wants to give a valentine to Tiffany, but what sort of valentine is just right? A String of Hearts shows how your best friends can be the ones you don’t know you have, and even simple valentines can mean a lot. Lynn Munsinger’s illustrations add charm to Laura Malone Elliott's story. Ages 4–7. $16.99; harpercollinschildrens.com.
Bink & Gollie
by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
illustrated by Tony Fucile
Bink and Gollie are best friends who have a few differences but share a love of roller skating. This book shows the girls setting out from their treehouse for three adventures that include outrageously bright socks, a trip to the Andes, and an unlikely companion. Fucile's playful illustrations enhance this ode to camaraderie. Ages 6–8. $15.99; candlewick.com.
When I'm Big
by Paula Hannigan
illustrated by Milena Kirkova
Youngsters who love imagining what they'll be when they grow up will get a kick out of When I'm Big. Move each slider from the bottom of the page to the top to watch the children in the book grow into their dream jobs. The simple text and bright illustrations will show readers that they, too, can become an astronaut, a fire fighter, and an acrobat. Ages 4–6. $14.99; accordpublishing.com.
Snowmen All Year
by Caralyn Buehner
illustrated by Mark Buehner
A child imagines the fun he could have with his snowman in Snowmen All Year—if only his creation would last. When the snow falls, he wonders: will this be the magic snow that makes it all come true? Caralyn Buehner’s story will get kids’ imaginations churning, and youngsters will have fun searching for animals and snowmen that illustrator Mark Buehner has hidden throughout the whimsical artwork. Ages 3–5. $16.99; penguin.com/youngreaders.
Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee
by Chris Van Dusen
Kids will giggle when Mr. Magee tries a new sport in Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee. When Magee and his dog Dee encounter a moose and a ravine, their day takes an unexpected turn. Van Dusen’s rhyming text and playful illustrations work hand-in-hand to show Magee’s silly adventures and how he finds his way out of a slippery situation. Ages 4–8. $15.99; chroniclekids.com.
Half Upon a Time
by James Riley
Jack's father has been missing ever since the incident with the beanstalk and the giant, and his grandfather keeps pushing him to find a princess to rescue. But who wants to rescue a snobby princess who denies that she's royalty and doesn't even believe in magic? This adventure tale combines all of the classic fairy tales into one humorous and thrilling novel. Ages 8–12. $15.99; KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com.
by Simon Van Booy
illustrated by Wendy Edelson
When Pobble and her Daddy head out on a magical, imaginative evening walk, Pobble loses her pink fluffy mitten. The animals in the woods all find the mitten and try to guess what it could be—is it cotton candy, a mouse house, a wing warmer, or something else? Curl up on the couch on a cold day to read this playful story. Ages 4–8. $16.95; FlashlightPress.com.
by Karin Littlewood
Immi lives far up north in a land covered by snow. One day when she's fishing for supper, she finds a surprise in the sea: a small, bright wooden bird. Day after day, she finds new trinkets. When it's time for her to move, she drops her polar bear necklace into her fishing hole. Young readers will find joy in this simple tale of gift giving. Ages 4–8. $15.95; peachtree-online.com.
Happy Hanukkah Lights
by Jacqueline Jules
illustrated by Michelle Shapiro
Read this board book to your preschoolers and discover Hanukkah traditions. Cheerful illustrations and rhyming text show a family celebrating Hanukkah by eating latkes, lighting the menorah, and playing dreidel. Ages 1–4. $5.95; karben.com.
The Tortoise or the Hare
by Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison
illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Everyone knows the story of the tortoise and the hare, and that slow and steady wins the race. In this new take on the story, Jimi Hare is so fast he wins every race, and Jamey Tortoise is so smart no one can outthink him. Both friends sign up for a local race, but will brains or muscle win? Is the story of the race more important than actually winning the race? Ages 4–8. $16.99; kids.simonandschuster.com.
Time for Kids: Big Book of Why
Why does the moon shine? How can you stop the hiccups? And why are there holes in Swiss cheese? The Big Book of Why answers these questions and more, covering 1,001 facts and trivia about animals, earth, space, technology, art, and many other topics. Ages 9–12. $19.99; available on amazon.com and bn.com.
Pecan Pie Baby
by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Gia worries about what will happen to her happy life with Mama once her new sibling is born—already the new baby is the only thing that everyone will talk about. Told from Gia's point of view, this book will reassure any youngster whose family is dealing with change. For ages 5–8. $16.99; penguin.com/youngreaders.
Do Not Open
This book discloses facts about weird history, strange science, and spooky secrets. Do Not Open reveals the known facts that lie behind mysteries. Curious about how to crack a safe, or want to know if it can rain frogs? Kids can open this book to find out about everything from DNA to the CIA, hackers to hoaxers, and time travel to telepathy. Ages 10 and up. $19.99; dk.com.
by Wendy Mass
Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip are competing in a candymaking contest. In addition to wanting to win, one of them has something to prove, one has something to forget, one is planning espionage, and one is out for revenge. Readers will be intrigued by this tale of mystery, friendship, and delectable concoctions. Ages 8–12. $16.99; lb-kids.com.
No Ghost Under My Bed
by Guido Van Genechten
Jake is struggling to fall asleep when he hears strange noises. He calls his dad to his room to check for ghosts. After his dad looks under the bed, behind the curtain, and in the toy chest, Jake is ready for sleep. Youngsters will rest reassured once they see Jake calm his fears. Ages 3 and up. $8.95; clavisbooks.com.
by Calef Brown
Is your household preparing for a night of wolves, witches, and the whole nine yards? Read Hallowilloween and imagine a frighteningly silly scene. Written just for youngsters, Brown’s playful poems and vivid illustrations turn Halloween into a magical night of fun. Ages 5–8. $16.99; hmhbooks.com.
Octavius Grimwood’s Graveyard Guide
by Rod Green
Investigate the supernatural with Octavius Grimwood’s Graveyard Guide. This coffin-shaped book is packed with facts and folklore about mummies, zombies, vampires, witches, and other ghouls, plus the history of modern Halloween traditions. And just in case young readers get spooked, the book includes a secret spell to keep them safe. Ages 8 and up. $9.99; barronseduc.com.
The Junkyard Wonders
by Patricia Polacco
Trisha was in a special class at her old school. This year, she wants that to change—and her parents agree that she can attend a new school. She’s devastated when she learns the school’s name for her new class is “the junkyard.” But her teacher, Mrs. Peterson, inspires greatness in the children. The Junkyard Wonders is based on a real-life event in author Patricia Polacco's childhood. Ages 6–9. $17.99; us.penguingroup.com.
concept by Lynn Gordon
illustrated by Molly Idle
All of the props for the upcoming circus show are disappearing, and it's up to Ella the Dancing Elephant to find out what's going on. This book comes with a magnifying glass that readers can use to find clues in the illustrations and solve the mystery. Ages 4–8. $16.99; accordpublishing.com.
This Is Gabriel Making Sense of School
by Hartley Steiner
illustrated by Brandon Fall
For kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, the information from the body's senses gets all jumbled up. This book shows how Gabriel, a young boy with SPD, experiences a typical day at school. Kids with SPD will relate to Gabriel when they read this book, and kids without SPD will get a glimpse of some of the challenges their classmates may experience. The illustrations make Gabriel's experiences jump off the page to help readers understand them. $13.95; hartleysboys.com.
The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets
by Roald Dahl
illustrated by Quentin Blake
Most Roald Dahl fans think they know the whole story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But who is Miranda Mary Piker, and did Willy Wonka really create a spotty powder that would keep kids out of school? This top-secret chapter, which is missing from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is now in a book along with chocolate trivia, recipes, and facts about Roald Dahl. Ages 8–12. $4.99; roalddahl.com.
Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?
by Audrey Vernick
illustrated by Daniel Jennewein
Are your children anxious about starting school? Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? offers a funny look at first-day-of-school jitters. The young buffalo in this book worries that he won’t fit in: he doesn’t look like anyone else in class, and he’s even afraid to use scissors. With help from his classmates, he learns that everyone is special, and soon he doesn’t even want to go home. Ages 4–8. $16.99; harpercollinschildrens.com.
Read to Tiger
by S.J. Fore
illustrated by R.W. Alley
An energetic, playful tiger is begging for attention from a boy who just wants to sit on a cozy couch and read. Tempers get short, but then the two figure out a solution. Chances are, young readers will relate to both the tiger and the boy, and will laugh at the imaginative illustrations. Ages 2 and up. $15.99; penguin.com/youngreaders.
1+1=5 and Other Unlikely Additions
by David LaRochelle
illustrated by Brenda Sexton
One and one add up to two—or do they? The equations in this book put kids' imaginations where their math skills are. Wacky illustrations give hints for how one and one add up to everything but two. Readers can take a guess at how the math works out, and then turn the pages to see the answers—for example, one cat plus one dog equals five spots. Ages 5 and up. $14.95; sterlingpublishing.com.
A Place for Delta
by Melissa Walker
illustrated by Richard Walker
In A Place for Delta, Aunt Kate asks Joseph to help her take care of an orphaned polar bear cub at a research station in Alaska. Joseph ends up at the center of a mystery when he realizes the cub, Delta, is in danger. The intrigue will keep young animal enthusiasts hooked as Joseph and his new friend Ada try to find out who would want to harm Delta. For ages 9–12. $16.95; aplacefordelta.com.
The Wish Stealers
by Tracy Trivas
Anyone who’s thrown a penny into a fountain will hope that Griffin Penshine can set things straight in The Wish Stealers. When a strange old woman gives Griffin a box of pennies, Griffin learns that the woman was a wish stealer who stole the pennies out of fountains. If Griffin can’t fix things, the original wishes won’t be granted, and the opposite of her own wishes will come true. For ages 8–12. $16.99; simonandschuster.com.
Who Loves the Little Lamb?
by Lezlie Evans
illustrated by David McPhail
The young animals in this book get fussy, pout, and make messes. But even when they act up, their moms still love them. The sweet rhymes and cozy illustrations in this book will reassure tots who get cranky or make mistakes. Ages 2–5. $15.99; hyperionbooksforchildren.com.
by D.B. Johnson
Explore a world where up is down and down is up in a story that's inspired by M.C. Escher's drawings of impossible buildings. Apprentice Mauk wakes up bored, but when he goes to work for the master builder, he finds carpenters and painters dangling from windows at every angle. The clever illustrations will fascinate readers as they turn the book upside down and read back to page one. Ages 4–7. $17; hmhbooks.com.
Gods & Heroes
by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda
Travel to the banks of the Nile, above the clouds of Mount Olympus, and into the wilds of Oceania while reading Gods & Heroes. Each page of the book features flaps, mini books, pull-tab surprises, and large pop-ups. The highly detailed artwork and thrilling tales will hook readers of all ages. Ages 5 and up. $29.99; candlewick.com.
My Life as a Book
by Janet Tashjian
illustrated by Jake Tashjian
It's finally summer, and Derek is looking forward to a summer of mischief and adventures—until his parents announce that they're sending him to Learning Camp. The illustrations in the margins, which are drawn by the author's teenaged son, will attract reluctant readers and may even provide a new learning technique for students who would rather doodle than memorize vocabulary. Ages 7-14. $16.99; mackids.com.
Potty Animals: What to Know When You've Gotta Go!
by Hope Vestergaard
illustrated by Valeria Petrone
Know any tots who've got the groundwork for potty training but could fine-tune their potty etiquette? The animals from Sycamore Preschool are here with rhymes to remind kids to plan ahead, knock before entering, flush, wash their hands, and more. Ages 4 and up. $14.95; sterlingpublishing.com/kids.
Chicken Scratches: Poultry Poetry and Rooster Rhymes
by George Shannon and Lynn Brunelle
illustrated by Scott Menchin
Read this book of poems out loud as a family and get ready to laugh. The lively rhymes feature kooky characters, including a hula dancer, a sumo wrestler, and an opera singer—who are all hens, roosters, and even chicken eggs. Ages 4–8. $14.99; chroniclekids.com.