My test subjects (at Boo in the Zoo):
And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
This is a story of the changing of the seasons and the cycle of life-and the patience and waiting involved in both-as seen through the eyes of a young child. Fogliano's prose are spare and to the point and Stead's art is a perfect match down to every detail.
Chopsticks by Amy Krause Rosentha, illustrated by Scott Magoon
This one is a big hit, I and the kids all prefer it to Spoon. (And we like Spoon quite a lot.) It is "Not exactly a sequel to Spoon. More like a change in place setting." Bit read it on her own before I got to it, chortled all the way through, then demanded I read it aloud immediately. The humor in the book and the double meanings were perfect for her. Little Man didn't get all the humor entirely but he still loves the story and the pictures.
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
This book makes the list for being one of the funniest books of the year. It makes both my kids laugh hysterically. They adored the idea that you can make friends with dragons by throwing them a taco party. When the young hero accidentally feeds his guests spicy salsa things really heat up. The first time we read it the surprise of that particular spread had the kids rolling on the floor in mirth. Then they had to read it again and again and again.
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
Little Man is a bit of Mo Willems fanboy. Okay. Not a bit. He's a huge fanboy. The shelf with the pigeon books and the shelf with the Elephant and Piggie books are his first two stops at the library every week. His love for this book (he has own copy) is great and wide. We also very much enjoyed the newest additions to Elephant and Piggie this year, Listen to My Trumpet and Let's Go for a Drive. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs was also a big hit here, but that was more of a Bit book as it went over Little Man's head.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Extra Yarn is a book for the older savvier reader. Little Man doesn't get it, but he likes the pictures. Bit loves everything about it (and so do I). It is rather difficult to describe so you will just have to trust me and read it.
A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
This is a beautiful book with a quirky story. And my kids love it. Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat made our list last year and continues to be one of Little Man's favorites. There is just something about Stead's words and pictures that speaks to the hearts of young children. He released a second book this year, Bear Has a Story to Tell (illustrated by Erin Stead), which is also delightful.
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
The follow up to last year's surprising I Want My Hat Back, this is not a sequel despite the similar title. Different setting. Different perspective. Same theme. Still hilarious, if less surprising.
Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So
Water Sings Blue is a book of ocean poems accompanied by amazing and gorgeous water color illustrations. From beginning to end it is a beautiful treasure. The poetry is as good as it gets. The imagery. The figurative language. The poems capture both the light fun and the dark power of the ocean and its creatures. The illustrations reflect the poetry, sometimes bright and colorful, sometimes subdued and calm, sometimes dark. It is one of Bit's favorite books ever. She has read it multiple times since receiving it for her birthday and takes it in the car just to be able to reread her favorites when we are running errands around town. Her favorite poem in the book is "Oarfish":
Dragon doesn't hide her magic
in a crooked mountain cave.
She dwells down deep and deeper
where the sea feels like a cave.
What more could I possibly add?
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Z is for Moose is the funniest alphabet book of all time. No question. Little Man's copy is already falling apart and we've only had it for 5 months. It was not cheaply put together, it is read multiple times a day.
Here is my Pinterest Board with all the recommend 2012 Picture Books I've read so far on it.