Best of 2012: Found in the Children’s Section

Today’s list includes ninja pigs, Dinotruxs, groovy buttons and crazy concoctions. As you might have guessed, it is our choices for the best in children’s books for 2012.

Picture Books

Revenge of the Dinotrux by Chris Gall
Creatures that are part dinosaur and part truck escape the museum and cause havoc all over town. They create hilarious trouble for adults, and only children can tame them. Great word play and wild illustrations make this story a delight for read-aloud. –Esta

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet by Jane O’Connor
Nancy wants a lead part in her ballet school show, but she ends up chosen to be a tree. She struggles with jealousy when her friend, Bree, gets to be a mermaid. Nancy comes up with a great way to add sparkle to her life, and the illustrations add to the playful and sweet feeling of this book. – Esta

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Three pigs take martial arts training and are ready to match a very tricky wolf. Bold, dramatic illustrations and story give kids many laughs…and an introduction to the discipline of martial arts. –Esta

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
Rocket the dog loves to read, and he collects words on paper slips that he hopes to piece together into a fantastic story. His friends surprise him, and suddenly he has a superb idea. A comforting, gentle story that praises reading and creativity. –Esta

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin
Pete the cat has a cool shirt with multi-colored big buttons, and it makes him so happy that he creates a song. The buttons pop off one by one, but Pete still finds joy and sings his way through it all. Vivid color illustrations in bold paint strokes capture the adventures of this little cat who has an endless sense of humor and fun. –Esta

Mossy by Jan Brett
Mossy the turtle has moss growing on her shell, and soon a whole colorful garden sprouts on her back. She is so special that a biologist takes her to live in a museum, but one little girl can sense how Mossy longs to get back home to Lilypad Pond. Lush, detailed illustrations capture the beauty of the landscape, and the story’s ending packs a sweet surprise. –Esta

Chapter Books

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
When Clara vanishes after the puppeteer Grisini and two orphaned assistants were at her birthday party, suspicion of kidnapping chases the trio away from London. The orphans are caught in a trap set by Grisini’s rival with a deadly inheritance to shed. Angie on GoodReads characterized this book as ‘When a Dickensian Hansel and Gretel meet up with Sara Crewe in a Pinocchio story by Stephen King…’ Yep, that covers it. –Andrea

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
7th-grader Georges adjusts to moving to an apartment, his father’s efforts to start a new business, his mother’s extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their building. Jennifer Hubert from GoodReads says ‘Rebecca Stead’s books are like an onion–as the layers are peeled away and the characters reveal their secrets, the reader is left with a shiny nugget of essential truth.’ I couldn’t describe Stead’s writing any better. –Andrea

A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner
Time has gone wrong, and best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste, together with the young Hystorian Riq, must use the infinity ring to travel back to one of the Great Breaks–a mutiny on the Santa María–to correct history and defeat the SQ. History can be difficult the way we currently study it, but what if we could travel in time and change what everyone thinks they know? –Andrea

Nonfiction

Crazy Concoctions: A Mad Scientist’s Guide to Messy Mixtures by Jordan D. Brown.
Swimming raisins, glow-in-the-dark Jell-O, and fake blood are just some of the silly projects and experiments in this introductory chemistry book. Silly illustrations and comments make the scientific explanations of each entry more palatable. The experiments are intriguing to budding scientists and use ingredients commonly found in a kitchen. –Theresa

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Michaela Muntean.
When Luciano Anastasini fell from the high wire, it seemed that his days as a circus performer were over. Luciano could imagine no other life, so he decided to put together a dog act, not with purebred dogs, but with mutts rescued from the shelter. It is a heartwarming tale of a man who wouldn’t give up on himself or the dogs whose behavior “problems” became assets to his act. The color photographs of Anastasini and his dogs will delight any dog lover or circus fan. –Theresa

National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas by Crispin Boyer.
Road trip ahead, or armchair traveling, this atlas won’t disappoint the young geographer. Each state is illustrated by a map showing major roads, towns, and geographic features with colorful pictures highlighting points of interest. Each state’s two-page spread includes a “Boredom Buster,” a suggestion of an activity one could do in the car while passing through. Odd traffic laws, miscellaneous facts, and quirky roadside attractions add special interest and humor for the trip. –Theresa

For a full list of all the 2012 staff picks, click here.