Best Picture Books of 2012

Below is a list of some of my favorite picture books of the year. Click here for a printable version. Have a favorite book not on the list, please share the title in the comments along with a ‘best of category’ title. Feel free to create a new category.

Wishing you all a Happy Holiday Season!


Best Interactive Book:
Tons of Trucks
Author: Sue Douglas Fliess – Illustrator: Betsy Syder – Publisher: HMH Books
Ages Birth-4. Colorful, engaging concept book that will have kids pushing, pulling, lifting, swinging, and spinning as they learn about trucks.

Best Concept Book:
Author & Illustrator: Mies Van Hout – Publisher: Lemniscaat
Ages 2-5. Vibrant, beautiful pastel drawings of fish, each depicting a different emotional word. So simple, yet powerful.

Best Nearly Wordless Book:
Good News Bad News
Author & Illustrator: Jeff Mack – Publisher: Chronicle Books
Ages 2-5. Best friend mouse or rabbit go on a picnic and experience a series of good/bad events. With just four words the author does an amazing job expressing deeper themes of attitude and friendship while keeping it comical.

Best Read Together Book:
Oh, No George!
Author & Illustrator: Chris Haughton – Publisher: Candlewick Press
Ages 2-5. Great book to read at storytime. Kids will enjoy jumping in to finish sentences and trying to figure out what George will do next.

Best Friends Book:
Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always
Author & Illustrator: Tao Nyeu – Publisher: Dial Books
Ages 3-5. Imaginative, endearing set of stories of two underwater friends. Cute illustrations.


Best Book with Characters to Read Aloud or Act Out:
Duckling Gets a Cookie
Author & Illustrator: Mo Willems – Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Ages 2-5. Cute story on manners. Duckling gets a cookie by asking politely but pigeon isn’t happy and launches into a tantrum. Great fun reading pigeon in a loud, exasperated voice and duckling in a soft, sweet voice.

I’m Bored
Author: Michael Ian Black – Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi – Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Ages 3-8.  High energy book about a potato that thinks kids are BORING, and a girl sets out to prove him wrong. This book is blast to read out loud, be sure to put some spunk into it.

Best Sibling Book:
Another Brother
Author & Illustrator: Matthew Cordell – Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Ages 3-8: Davy’s life is turned upside down by not one or two but twelve little brothers.  A book every parent, older sibling, and younger sibling can relate too.

One Special Day
Author: Lola M. Schaefer – Illustrator: Jessica Meserve – Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Ages 2-4. Spencer is strong like a bear, funny as a monkey, but what will he become when his new sibling arrives? A sweet story that has minimal text that interplays well with the gorgeous illustrations.


Best Action-Packed Book:
The Three Ninja Pigs
Author: Corey Rosen Schwartz – Illustrator: Dan Santat – Publisher: G.P. Putnam Books
Ages 4-8. A rhyming, fractured-fairy tale that packs a one-two punch.

Best Fractured Fairytale Book:
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
Author & Illustrator: Mo Willems – Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Ages 4-8. Clever, witty, completely original re-telling of a classic. Goldilocks walking into the dinosaurs house was no accident but a trap!

The Three Ninja Pigs (see above)

Best Christmas Book:
The Christmas Quiet Book
Author: Deborah Underwood – Illustrator: Renata Liwska – Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Ages 3-6. Cuddle up with your kids under a warm blanket and some hot cocoa. Discover the quiet joys of the holidays.

Chloe and the LionAHomeForBirdextra-yarn-coverCreepy Carrots

Best Squabble in a Book:
Chloe and the Lion
Author: Mac Barnett – Illustrator: Adam Rex – Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Ages 5-8. Quirky, innovative book about cooperation and the partnership between words and pictures in a book. The squabbling between Adam and Mac is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Best Classic Feel Book:
A Home for Bird
Author & Illustrator: Philip C. Stead – Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Ages 3-8. Reminiscent of classic Frog & Toad stories, filled with small adventures, wonder, and most importantly compassion and heart.

Extra Yarn
Author: Mac Barnett – Illustrator: Jon Klassen – Publisher
Ages 4-8. It may look like just another picture book, but it’s not. A beautiful tale on generosity.

Best Spooky Book:
Creepy Carrots
Author: Aaron Reynolds – Illustrator: Peter Brown – Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Ages 4-8. Twilight Zones meets the carrot patch, you may never look at carrots or anything else that is your “favorite” the same way again.

66 Comments to “Best Picture Books of 2012”

  1. Thanks for this great list, Darshana! I’ll be adding a few of these books to my to-be-read list. I recently read GOLDILOCKS AND THE 3 DINOSAURS. That was so funny! You’ve listed a few of my favs already.

    • Thanks Romelle. I was simply floored by the way he fractured the Goldilocks story. Whle reading I kept trying to guess what parts would be the same or different and kept getting it wrong. Simply brilliant.

  2. Wonderful list! One of my favorites (due to my son wanting it read to him over and over) is the “Some Dogs Do” by Jez Alborough. 🙂

  3. What a great list! I love your categories…

  4. What a great list. Some of these were our favorites, and some I am still waiting for our library to get!

  5. It’s nice to see your list, Darshana. I’ve been thinking about all the books I’ve read this year — quite a number of these though there are a few here I haven’t seen yet.

  6. Yay you for putting together this fantastic list! Good News Bad News stands out for me for some reason. I just like the concept.

  7. We have to get OH NO George! and Creepy Carrots! 😀

  8. SO many great ones, Darshana! And some I have yet to read 🙂

  9. Great list, Darshana. So many I still have to read, too! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. I agree, great list! I’ve seen all those books come across my desk this year.

  11. Wonderful list – thanks for sharing it with The Children’s Bookshelf. One of my favorite “creative” books of the year was “Crafty Chloe”

  12. Wow – great list, thank you. I really must get Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Not sure about a category heading but we currently love Aliens Love Underpants and (the very seasonal!) Aliens Love Panta Claus.

  13. Great roundup, Darshana. I’ll have to read the ones I’m not familiar with.

  14. Lovely selection of books Darshana – unfortunately I’ve only read reviews of most of them, rather than seen the actual books, but now I’ll be trying doubly hard to get hold of some of them!

  15. I hadn’t heard of even one of these, but they look fantastic! I love the cover illustration on Happy, and 3 Ninja Pigs sounds fun. They all look great, though. Thanks for sharing this list!

    And thank you for stopping by the Pikes Peak Writers’ blog.

    Shannon at Writing From the Peak

    • I hope you get to read some of these titles. I loved the simplicity of Happy yet it conveys so much. Ms. Schwartz did an amazing job with 3 Ninja Pigs. A great fracture fairytale. Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Great list. Your creative category titles are very helpful too!

  17. Loved your list! Though we’ve read a lot of them, there are a few that I just put on hold at the library!

  18. Great list Darshana! Have you read Sleep Like a Tiger? It’s one of my favorites
    from this past year…I nominate it for the Best Bedtime Story category. 🙂

  19. Wonderful list. Many of my favorites are listed here!

  20. What a great list! I made a similar list lasting for 2012 and ours are very different. I loved I’m Bored though, that should have been on my list!

    • Thanks for stopping by. I just checked out your top ten list. Yes our books are completely different. There were a bunch on yours I hadn’t even heard of. Will have to check them out. Thanks.

  21. I just finished CREEPY CARROTS. And my all-time favorite was EACH KINDNESS.

  22. Great list — I’ll add some to my growing pile.

  23. There are some great recommendations here. I’ve read a few, but will be looking for the rest of them for my pb-buying needs for the year.

  24. Love this list! Some awesome reads here as always. 🙂

  25. I need to read a few more of these. I would add Good Night iPad. I’ve found the kids I read it to loved it. Also fun for grownups.

  26. Hi there Darshana. I so loved the categories you created here. You must have had so much fun creating this post. Most of the titles are familiar to me from Cybils, so I have enjoyed most of them recently. Thanks for creating this list. 🙂

    • I know I was surprised to see how many of them were on the shortlist. Maybe I should become a book fortune teller. j/k. Looking forward to getting those discussions started for the Cybils.

  27. I love your list! Lots of overlap with my own favorites of the year, and some new-to-me titles that I’ll need to look for at the library!

  28. I love your list categories AND your book picks!

  29. Ooh, bookmarking this list! I think the “Three Ninja Pigs” sounds right up my Max’s alley. Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Hope to see you at the next one this Wednesday!

  30. Thanks for compiling a fabulous list. Your categories make it so useful.

  31. I love the idea of best books with characters to be read out loud or acted out!! As a teacher those kinds of suggestions are so helpful!

  32. Several of these were 2012 favorites for me – especially Extra Yarn and Creepy Carrots. One Special Day and A Home For Bird brought tears to my eyes, so they get bonus points for that as well.

  33. Loved discovering some of your gems – thanks as well for being part of the 2013 Comment challenge! Best, Lee

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