July 9, 2014

The 30 Best Kids' Books of the Year (So Far)

Quirky Bookworm: The 30 Best Kids' Books of the Year (So Far) :: 20 Picture Books and 10 Board Books Your Children are Guaranteed to Love

I thought picking the best books of the year so far was rough; but it's even harder for me to sum up the best kids' books that we've read this year, because we read a lot of kids' books. (I recently counted: and we own around 400 board & picture books. Plus we get 15-20 books a week at the library.)

But a few books stand out in my memory. Plus I did a quick skim of our library history to see what jumped out at me there. So I'm going to start with our 20 favorite picture books and 10 favorite board books, and then attempt to narrow down to the top 10 overall from there. (I have such a hard time picking my 'favorite' books!)
  1. The Patterson Puppies and the Rainy Day by Leslie Patricelli - the shenanigans of four imaginative and mischievous puppies who are trapped inside on a rainy day.
  2. Look Out, Suzy Goose by Petr Horacek - Suzy Goose (to escape from her chattering fellow geese) heads deep into the forest.
  3. Ninja Cowboy Bear Presents the Call of the Cowboy by David Bruins - Cowboy is too loud. Can he learn to play the way Bear and Ninja want to play?
  4. How to Get a Job...by Me, the Boss by Sally Lloyd-Jones - Job hunting advice from a preschool perspective.
  5. The Very Fairy Princess Follows Her Heart by Julie Andrews - Geraldine just knows she's a fairy princess, so she's practicing her gracious princess manners.
  6. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen - Perfect for a cajoling a smile from even the grumpiest child.
  7. Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban - Teaches a lesson for picky eaters, in classically awesome Frances style.
  8. Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early by Erica S. Perl - The chickens have to go to bed first, but soon all the other farm animals are off to bed as well.
  9. A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen - Can a small girl convince her parents to buy her a dog named Bones?
  10. Red Hat by Lita Judge - The forest animals have run off with a hat from the clothesline. Will it survive the adventure?
  11. The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan - Although he's an underdog, the former postman Lalouche becomes a boxing champion.
  12. No Roses for Harry! by Gene Zion - Harry the Dog is trying to escape the sweater Grandma sent for him - because it has roses on it and Harry feels silly.
  13. Brave Bitsy and the Bear by Angela McAllister - A small, brave stuffed rabbit faces adventures in the woods.
  14. How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills - A clever bird teaches Rocket the Dog to read.
  15. The Red Book by Barbara Lehman - Wordless, a gorgeous picture book about the magic of books.
  16. Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite by Nick Bromley - Help! A crocodile has escaped into this book.
  17. Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson - The bear gets lost in the city; but ends up at the apartment of someone familiar.
  18. M Is for Music by Kathleen Krull - B is for Beatles, M is for Mozart, R is for Reggae; a fun and pretty alphabet book.
  19. Pirate Boy by Eve Bunting - Danny imagines all sorts of pirate adventures; luckily his mom comes along to save him.
  20. Ten Days and Nine Nights by Yumi Heo - A little girl is counting down the days till her adopted little sibling arrives.
  21. Hello, Doctor by Michael Escoffier - The doctor helps the elephant and crocodile, but can he help a wolf?
  22. Leaves from Play Bac - Cute babies and kids frolicking in leaves.
  23. Hello, Bugs! by Smriti Prasadam-Halls - Almost no words, but black and white images with shiny accents are very eye-catching.
  24. Touch and Feel: Birthday from DK Publishing - Crinkly wrapping paper, toys to touch, smiling kids; a baby favorite.
  25. My Farm Friends by Wendell Minor - Surprisingly interesting factoids about farm animals, with cute illustrations.
  26. Animals Go by Emily Bolam - Again almost no words, but fun pictures and textures.
  27. Bright Baby First Words from Priddy Books - Simple words and pictures, perfect for the youngest babies.
  28. Lift and See Farm from Tiger Tales - Ideal for the 18 month crowd; encourages animal identification, matching and flap-lifting.
  29. Counting Birds by Jing Jing Tsong - A sing-song counting story.
  30. Pocket Piggies Colors! A counting book, with pocket pigs! So hilariously adorable.
And now (drumroll please) for the top 10.

Look Out, Suzy Goose by Petr Horacek. Lovely illustrations, a likeable (albeit foolish) goose heroine, a slightly scary tale, lots of fun onomatopoetic words; this book wins across the board. It tells the story of Suzy Goose, who (to escape from her chattering fellow geese) heads deep into the forest. But Suzy doesn't realize that a hungry fox and bear and tiptoeing after her. (Ideal age: 2-5)

How to Get a Job...by Me, the Boss by Sally Lloyd-Jones. This one made me laugh. It shares tips on getting a job, from a small child's perspective. It includes lots of funny lists and sidenotes that grown-ups will approve, and bright pictures and cheerful text that Eleanor found entertaining. (Ideal age: 4 and up)

The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan. I adored this book set in early twentieth century Paris. It tells the story of a postman-turned-boxer, whose wiry frame doesn't stop him from becoming the Mighty Lalouche. It had lots of French words, which I enjoyed hamming up, and absolutely gorgeously detailed illustrations. (Ideal age: 4 and up)

No Roses for Harry by Gene Zion. Oh Harry the Dog books. They're so classic, and so un-PC (I think every book refers to a fat lady!). But this one, in which Harry is desperately trying to ditch the rose-covered sweater that Grandma bought for him, is especially fun. (Ideal age: 3-5)

The Red Book by Barbara Lehman. This small book has no words, but beautiful illustrations which tell a story of a boy and a girl; and the way books and maps magically connect them. Eleanor and I have "read" this one again and again, noticing new details each time. (Ideal age: 3-5)

Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley. Much like Herve Tullet's books, this one stretches the interactive limits of the book format. The narrator is purportedly trying to tell the story of the Ugly Duckling, but the book has been invaded by a crocodile. So the narrator urges the reader to get the crocodile out of the book by shaking it, etc. But the crocodile finds his own way to escape from the book. This one pretty much blew Eleanor's mind. Her jaw literally dropped open. I think the fun surprise at the end would entertain any kid. (Ideal age: 3 and up)

Hello, Doctor by Michael Escoffier. Eleanor was reading this one to me, and I had admittedly slightly zoned out, because it was a cute, repetitive story about animals visiting a doctor. But then it had a really surprising ending, which made me laugh out loud. It's a board book with simple words, although the funny ending might be a little over the tiniest heads. (Ideal age: 2 and up)

Brave Bitsy and the Bear by Angela McAllister. This one really captured both of us, and I'm not quite sure why. It's a pretty simple tale, about a brave little stuffed bunny who helps a bear find a good hibernating spot for the winter. But something about Bitsy's bravery in the face of her tiny size, and the pretty illustrations had us reaching for it again and again. (Ideal age: 2-6)

Leaves from Play Bac. This is one of Juliet's favorite books right now. She loves any book with pictures of babies and toddlers; but this one is full of adorable kids interacting with leaves - playing in them, eating them, throwing them, etc. Simple text, super cute. (Ideal age: 0-3)

Counting Birds by Jing Jing Tsong. This one has bright, collage-like illustrations, a rhymey, sing-song text that's fun to read, and a cute counting story about lots of different birds gathering in a tree... until a cat comes along. We all three enjoy it; and it's simple enough for Eleanor to read it to Juliet too. (Ideal age: 0-3)

I think that the top 10 are absolutely gift-worthy, but any of those 30 books would make great presents for the kids in your life. Or just great additions to your library hold list - so that you don't have to wade through all the meh books to get to the good ones! (It may just be me, but I feel like if you randomly grab books in a hurry at the library, about 70% of them are underwhelming.)

What kids' books have YOU been loving?

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