Best Picture Books of 2012

View all Recommendations by Age > Recommendations for Age 4-8 book lists; This list was last updated on 4/2/2013
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release date: Apr 24, 2012
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It's Milking Time

A lyrical and visual treasure—perfect for reading aloud to any child who's ever asked: Where does milk come from?

As the sun sets over the fields, a little girl and her father begin the evening milking. They work side by side, fanning out beds of straw, bringing in the cows, and hooking up the milkers.

Soon they've filled milk can after milk can for the creamery truck that will arrive in the morning. The fresh dairy product isn't just for them—other families will buy their milk, butter, and cheese at stores and farmers' markets near and far, connecting the little girl's farm to the world beyond.

Phyllis Alsdurf has created a poetic story that lovingly depicts the special bond between a child and her father, as well as the relationship between a young farmer and her animals. With Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher's exquisite illustrations, It's Milking Time is a must-have for any picture book collection.

A natural read-aloud selection for fans of Jane Yolen's Owl Moon.

release date: Mar 13, 2012
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The Cloud Spinner
One small boy has a special gift—he can weave cloth from the clouds: gold in the early morning with the rising sun, white in the afternoon, and crimson in the evening. He spins just enough cloth for a warm scarf. But when the king sees the boy's magnificent cloth, he demands cloaks and gowns galore. "It would not be wise," the boy protests. "Your majesty does not need them!" But spin he must—and soon the world around him begins to change.

From author Michael Catchpool and illustrator Alison Jay comes a magical tale about the beauty and fragility of our natural world, and the wisdom and courage needed to protect it.
release date: Mar 06, 2012
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More
One magpie,
lots of stuff,
and a few friendly mice
show us that less is
more.
This innovative and spare picture book asks the question: When is MORE more than
enough? Can a team of well-intentioned mice save their friend from hoarding too
much stuff? With breathtaking illustrations from the award-winning Brian Lies, this
book about conservation wraps an important message in a beautiful package.
release date: Feb 07, 2012
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Baby Bear Sees Blue
Explore the world of color with Baby Bear!

Baby Bear has so much to learn about the world! From the moment he wakes until it's time to curl up and go to sleep, he explores outside with his mama. They see green leaves, blue jays, brown trout, and—best of all—a patch of yummy red strawberries.

From bestselling picture book creator Ashley Wolff, here is a clever concept book that combines engaging and intricate linocut illustrations with a story that enthusiastically encourages children to identify a variety of vibrant colors. Young readers will delight in this chance to join Baby Bear as he discovers the colorful wonders of his lively, leafy forest home.
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Happy Like Soccer
A warmhearted story about a young girl who finds a way to bring together the two things that make her most happy- soccer and her family.

Nothing makes Sierra happy like soccer. Her shoes have flames as she spins the ball down the spread-out sea of grass. But nothing makes her sad like soccer, too, because the restaurant where her auntie works is busy on game days and she can't take time off to watch Sierra play. On game days, her auntie helps Sierra get ready and tells her, "Play hard and have fun." And Sierra does, but she can't help wishing she had someone there to root for her by name, and not just by the number on her uniform. With honesty and rare subtlety, author Maribeth Boelts and illustrator Lauren Castillo portray an endearing character in a moving, uplifting story that touches on the divides children navigate every day- and remind us that everyone needs someone to cheer them on from the sidelines.
release date: Dec 06, 2012
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Baby Penguins Everywhere!
Can there be such a thing as too many adorable penguins?

One day a penguin sees a most unusual sight: a hat floating in the icy water. Even more unusual? Out of the hat pops a baby penguin. But not just one baby penguin . . . or even two. But a third, and a fourth, and on and on!

At first the mama penguin is happy for the company. Until she realizes that taking care of a family is very hard, very tiring work, and what she could really use is just a moment alone. Yet as newcomer Melissa Guion reminds us in her adorable debut picture book, alone time is all well and good, but, it's together time that's best of all.

Perfect for any mama penguin with a family, or classroom, full of mischievous little ones.
by: Mem Fox
release date: Sep 04, 2012
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Tell Me About Your Day Today
A boy and his favorite stuffed animals share their days with one another in this cozy bedtime picture book from Mem Fox.

There was once a boy who loved bedtime.
    
What could be more wonderful than sharing bedtime with beloved friends? The little boy in this gentle and fun story loves to talk to his stuffed animals each evening and share with them all the things that happened to him that day—and to hear about their days, too.
     From bestselling author Mem Fox and award-winning illustrator Lauren Stinger, here is a celebration of imagination, play, friendship, and coziness certain to touch a chord with young children everywhere.
release date: Oct 02, 2012
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The Reader
In this timeless picture book, a new reader trudges through deep snow with a mysterious suitcase in tow. He has something important to share with his faithful companion, who bolts ahead to wait at the top of a tall hill. Our small hero climbs higher and higher, until finally, he is there, too. Then he opens his suitcase— click, click—and soon the only sound in the world is the sound of the reader reading their very favorite book to the very last page…the very last word.

Amy Hest's spare evocative text is a true celebration of new readers and good friends everywhere, while Lauren Castillo's pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations, with their bold saturated colors against winter white, perfectly capture the wonder and delight of this magical day.

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The Herd Boy
"Pweew! Pweew!" Malusi's shrill whistling drives the sheep out of grandfather's kraal. By the time they reach the grazing slopes, the earth is hot beneath his bare feet.
He keeps the sheep and goats from straying towards the deep
donga, which is easy to fall into but hard to climb out of. You have to be awake, and you have to be brave, to be a herd boy.

Malusi is a herd boy. It is a big job for a small boy, yet he does it well, no matter the danger. But he also dreams of being more than a herd boy someday: Malusi wants to be president.
This simple but poignant story explores the idea that many great leaders have come from humble beginnings. Perhaps what gives someone the strength and integrity to lead well isn't so different from what it takes to be a good herd boy.
release date: Sep 29, 2004
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Owly
Owly is a kind, yet lonely, little owl who's always on the lookout for new friends and adventure. The first graphic novel in the series contains two enchanting novellas, "The Way Home" & "The Bittersweet Summer," wherein Owly discovers the meaning of friendship, and that saying goodbye doesn't always mean forever.
release date: Jan 01, 2014
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This Moose Belongs to Me
From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes the age-old tale of a boy and his moose . . .

Wilfred is a boy with rules. He lives a very orderly life. It's fortunate, then, that he has a pet who abides by rules, such as not making noise while Wilfred educates him on his record collection. There is, however, one rule that Wilfred's pet has difficulty following: Going whichever way Wilfred wants to go. Perhaps this is because Wilfred's pet doesn't quite realize that he belongs to anyone.

A moose can be obstinate in such ways.

Fortunately, the two manage to work out a compromise. Let's just say it involves apples.

Oliver Jeffers, the bestselling creator of Stuck and The Incredible Book Eating Boy, delivers another deceptively simple book sure to make kids giggle.
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Sleep Like a Tiger

2013 Randolph Caldecott Honor Award

In this magical bedtime story, the lyrical narrative echoes a Runaway Bunny – like cadence: “Does everything in the world go to sleep?” the little girl asks. In sincere and imaginative dialogue between a not-at-all sleepy child and understanding parents, the little girl decides “in a cocoon of sheets, a nest of blankets,” she is ready to sleep, warm and strong, just like a tiger. The Caldecott Honor artist Pamela Zagarenski's rich, luminous mixed-media paintings effervesce with odd, charming details that nonsleepy children could examine for hours. A rare gem.

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The Other Side of Town
Jon Agee at his best--goofy story, bravura pictures!

In the middle of busy New York City, a cabdriver picks up a tiny guy in a goofy suit who wants to go to the other side of town. The other side of town, it turns out, is not in Brooklyn or Queens. It's a zany, pink-and-green world where things look very familiar but are completely different.

Now, it's one thing to go there, but how on earth do you ever get back?
release date: Nov 01, 2012
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One Frozen Lake
Seven hours pass.
Not one fish.
Has anyone seen a fish?

On the surface, it might seem like ice fishing, with its hours in a tiny shack awaiting an elusive crappie or pike, would not be a great match for kids. However, as scores of grandparents and parents know, this unique northern pastime holds special magic for a child.

One Frozen Lake tells the story of a grandfather and grandchild on several ice-fishing adventures. Ramshackle ice towns sprout up. Ice shack neighbors share piping-hot cocoa and humorous stories. Eye-catching lures and jigs dance at the end of the fishing line. And mysterious, silvery ice tunnels connect the community above with the one below. 

Will they ever catch a fish? Perhaps that's beside the point.

Deborah Jo Larson's engaging narrative, a celebration of her childhood spent on frozen lakes, comes alive with appealing scenes expertly crafted by award-winning children's book artists Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, who create shimmering worlds above and below the ice. One Frozen Lake tells of a tradition being passed from one generation to the next, a tradition that encourages spending unhurried time together sharing winter's gifts—and creating precious memories that last long after the ice melts.

This is Deborah Jo Larson's first picture book. Her fiction has appeared in Stories for Children online magazine. Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher have collaborated on over thirty books for children, including Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days and Garrison Keillor's Cat, You Better Come Home.
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Wheel-Mouse vs All The Crazy Robots
Wheel-Mouse saves the world from All The Crazy Robots.

A picture book written by Celyn Lawrence, age 8.

All profits to Children's Hospice Charity for terminally ill and life-limited children (chsw.org.uk)

Celyn suffers from severe cerebral palsy and benefits from the free care provided by children's hospices.
release date: Jun 14, 2012
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Dragons Love Tacos
This scrumptious New York Times bestseller has a whole lot of kick!

Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You're in red-hot trouble.

The award-winning team behind Those Darn Squirrels! has created an unforgettable, laugh-until-salsa-comes-out-of-your-nose tale of new friends and the perfect snack.
release date: Sep 25, 2012
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Nightsong
A breathtaking picture book by award-winning author Ari Berk, illustrated by mega-bestseller Loren Long, about a young bat setting off into the world using only his good sense!
Sense is the song you sing out into the world,
and the song the world sings back to you.
     With these words, Chiro's mother sends him off into the night for the first time alone. It's an adventure, but how will he find his way? And how will he find his way home? As the young bat discovers, navigating the world around him is easy as long as he uses his good sense.
     This beautiful and touching coming-of-age story, with mesmerizing artwork from New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long and lyrical text from Ari Berk, conveys a heartwarming and universal message: No matter how far away you go, you can always find your way home.
release date: Jan 01, 2012
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Boy and Bot
One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun.

But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he's sick. The usual remedies—applesauce, reading a story—don't help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep.

Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him?

Using the perfect blend of sweetness and humor, this story of an adorable duo will win the hearts of the very youngest readers.
release date: Jan 17, 2012
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Extra Yarn

Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Times bestseller, is the story of how a young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community.

With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic.

Extra Yarn is written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, who also won a Caldecott Medal for This Is Not My Hat.

Supports the Common Core State Standards.

release date: Feb 07, 2012
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Listen to My Trumpet! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In Listen to My Trumpet! Piggie can't wait to play her new instrument for Gerald! But is she ready to listen to his reaction?
release date: Mar 27, 2012
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Green

Die cut pages bring surprise after surprise in this magical new book from the "Queen of the concept book"―an intricate and satisfying homage to green, the color of all creation.

How many kinds of green are there? There's the lush green of a forest on a late spring day, the fresh, juicy green of a just-cut lime, the incandescent green of a firefly, and the vivid aquamarine of a tropical sea. In her newest book, Caldecott and Geisel Honor Book author Laura Vaccaro Seeger fashions an homage to a single color and, in doing so, creates a book that will delight and, quite possibly astonish you.

Green is a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2012

Green is a 2013 Caldecott Honor Book

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Chopsticks
Meet Chopsticks! They've been best friends forever. But one day, this inseparable pair comes to a fork in the road. And for the very first time, they have to figure out how to function apart. From New York Times best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and rising artistic talent Scott Magoon, this witty and inventive tale celebrates both independence and the unbreakable bonds of friendship.
release date: Sep 04, 2012
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Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is a new take on the fairy-tale classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears, so funny and so original—it could only come from the brilliant mind of Mo Willems.

Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur . . . and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.

One day—for no particular reason—they decided to tidy up their house, make the beds, and prepare pudding of varying temperatures. And then—for no particular reason—they decided to go . . . someplace else. They were definitely not setting a trap for some succulent, unsupervised little girl.

Definitely not!

Supports the Common Core State Standards.

release date: Aug 21, 2012
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Creepy Carrots!
In this Caldecott Honor–winning picture book, The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch as a rabbit fears his favorite treats are out to get him.

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots.
He eats them on the way to school.
He eats them going to Little League.
He eats them walking home.
Until the day the carrots start following him...or are they?
     Celebrated artist Peter Brown's stylish illustrations pair perfectly with Aaron Reynold's text in this hilarious picture book that shows it's all fun and games…until you get too greedy.
release date: Jan 01, 2012
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This Is Not My Hat
WINNER OF THE 2013 CALDECOTT MEDAL!

From the creator of the #1 New York Times best-selling and award-winning I Want My Hat Back comes a second wry tale.


When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it's a good thing that enormous fish won't wake up. And even if he does, it's not like he'll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.
release date: May 01, 2012
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Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Pete the Cat is wearing his favorite shirt—the one with the four totally groovy buttons. But when one falls off, does Pete cry? Goodness, no! He just keeps on singing his song—after all, what could be groovier than three groovy buttons? Count down with Pete in this rocking new story from the creators of the bestselling Pete the Cat books.

release date: Apr 03, 2012
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The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?
The Duckling asks for a cookie -- and gets one! Do you think the Pigeon is happy about that?
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