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Books of the Year 2007

  • From the 8,000 or so kids' books published this year, we've chosen the best of the lot -- for babies on up -- with the help of moms and kids across the country, and our expert panel.

     

    This year's judges, headed by Parenting contributing editor Leonard S. Marcus: Ilene Abramson, director of children's services, Los Angeles Public Library; Kathy East, assistant director/head of children's services, Wood County District Public Library, Bowling Green, OH; and Andy Laties, manager, the Bookshop of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA.

    Here, the best of the best kids' books in 2007

  • Birth to 2 years

    First books give babies and toddlers plenty to chew on (often quite literally -- few little teethers can resist the al dente allure of a tasty board book): eye-opening colors and shapes, new words, and appealing pictures of faces and things that tickle with the joy of recognition.

    Orange Pear Apple Bear
    Emily Gravett

    With just five simple, rhyming words, juggled and rejuggled, and lively watercolor illustrations, this dashing book puts on quite a show. A quick, clever read. ($13, Simon & Schuster)

    "This book is delightful! I don't even mind reading it aloud over and over, which my kids keep begging me to do."
    -- Lori Boyko, mom of Carson, 4, and Grayden, 8 months, Simsbury, CT

    Buy it!

  • Baby's Day; Let's Play
    Michel Blake

    Sparing use of color gives these board books extra pop: Neatly tinted everyday objects and playthings jump out of crisp black-and-white photographs of small children. ($6 each, Candlewick)

    "The contrast between the bright colors and the muted backgrounds makes it easy to point out and explain each object to my daughter."
    -- Shauna Blankenship, mom of Jacey, 9 months, Paris, TN

    Buy it!

  • Mother Goose's Little Treasures
    collected by Iona Opie; illustrated by Rosemary Wells

    A grand first taste of nursery nonsense, with endearing, bright watercolors to match. These are some of Ma Goose's more obscure ditties, and seem to have been chosen for their benign absurdity (with none of the creepy old rhymes that sometimes leave a child in tears and a mom scratching her head). ($18, Candlewick)

    "As we read, my baby stops and stares at each illustration. I've been singing the nursery rhymes to her and she can't stop giggling."
    --Alicia Hodge, mom of Kayton, 3 months, Cincinnati

    Buy it!

  • 2 to 4 years

    Preschoolers love rhythmic read-alouds and simple stories about characters as active as they are. Look for books that turn learning into a game, explore the new frontier of friendship, or simply invite silliness.

    Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories
    Laura Vaccaro Seeger

    In these very gentle tales, a teddy bear and a dachshund help each other through little dilemmas that a toddler or preschooler might recognize from his own life. Completely charming. ($13, Neal Porter/Roaring Brook)

    "These stories teach lessons about friendship in such a sweet way. Dog and Bear has become a regular bedtime request."
    -- Sheila Miller, mom of Abigail, 4, and Zachary, 19 months, Caledonia, MI

    Buy it!

  • Fabian Escapes
    Peter McCarty

    A homebody pup and an adventurous, out-and-about cat enjoy surprisingly similar days in this tale about likeness and difference. McCarty's shimmering, quicksilver graphics are cute, and parents will appreciate the subtle, deadpan humor. ($17, Henry Holt)

    "The pictures are so expressive that my son can figure out what's happening and tell the story himself. My only regret is that it's not longer. I hope there's another Fabian book coming out soon!"
    --Nichol Perez, mom of Tijauri, 4, New York City

    Buy it!

  • Lily Brown's Paintings
    Angela Johnson; illustrated by E. B. Lewis

    When Lily paints, trees wear hats and alligators talk on the telephone -- anything can happen! The flamboyant read-aloud narrative and freewheeling watercolors may help get your own young artist in the proper mood. ($17, Orchard)

    "I love the fact that this story reminds kids to use their imaginations. The paintings not only made this message clear, but also really captured my easily distracted daughter's attention."
    -- Dana Auzenne, mom of Kaylin, 2, Houston, TX

    Buy it!

  • Mother Goose: Numbers on the Loose
    Leo & Diane Dillon

    You'll have a high time helping your preschooler get to know numbers by bouncing to the beat of 24 Mother Goose counting rhymes. The gloriously elastic, theatrical art shows why the illustrators are two-time Caldecott Medal winners. ($17, Harcourt)

    "It's educational without being pushy, and silly enough to be fun. Rebeka had a blast learning how to count with this book."
    -- Melinda Smith-Pace, mom of Rebeka, 3, Columbus, GA

    Buy it!

  • Peanut
    Linas Alsenas

    A ditsy old lady meets a baby elephant in the park, insists she's a puppy, and takes her home. Decidedly silly, with a laugh-out-loud ending. ($17, Scholastic)

    "I love the story's message about imagination. Now Grace really believes drawings can come to life!"
    -- Joey Capozzi, mom of Grace 2, Salisbury, MA

    Buy it!

  • 4 to 8 years

    The best picture books for this age range tell stories that feature memorable characters, present real-life subjects in a distilled and lively fashion, and give a wide-ranging introduction to creative and stimulating visual art.

    Ain't Nobody a Stranger to Me
    Ann Grifalconi; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

    A man tells his granddaughter the harrowing story of his long-ago flight from slavery, aided by his faith and the kindness of strangers. Not sugarcoated, but an empowering and child-friendly way to talk about a difficult subject. ($17, Jump at the Sun/Hyperion)

    "It seemd at first glance to gloss over the emotional history of the time, but viewed through my children's eyes, I saw the power of its message."
    -- Renee White, mom of Caleb, 11, Joshua, 9, and Noah, 6, Grayson, GA

    Buy it!

  • The End
    David LaRochelle; illustrated by Richard Egielski

    A fairy tale told backward -- starting at happily-ever-after and working its way to the beginning -- is the dandy premise that lifts this offbeat story about a princess, a dragon, a bowl of lemonade, and a soggy knight above more predictable fare. (Arthur A. Levine, $17)

    "The illustrations are adorable! My kids love to sit and look at the book because so many objects have faces and express emotions -- like tomatoes, teacups, and tables. There's so much happening visually on every page."
    -- Erin Willett, mom of Carter, 5, and Nolan, 2, Bolton, MA

    Buy it!

  • Leaving the Nest
    Mordicai Gerstein

    A wise but comical book about independence, in which a curious kitten, a girl just learning to ride her bike, and a fledgling blue jay face down their fears in slapstick fashion. ($16, Frances Foster)

    "This book really resonated with my daughter, who's getting ready to start school. It sparked a discussion about not being afraid to try new things."
    -- Carol Stenger, mom of Brenna, 5, Cranbury, NJ

    Buy it!

  • Library Mouse
    Daniel Kirk

    Sam, a mouse who lives in the children's library, secretly writes books, perplexing and delighting the librarian and young kids who find them. Creative inspiration and charming fantasy for budding writers. ($16, Abrams)

    "Frank immediately wanted to make his own book."
    --B'easy Thompson, mom of Frank, 4, Blacksburg, VA

    Buy it!

  • A Seed Is Sleepy
    Dianna Hutts Aston; illustrated by Sylvia Long

    A close -- and utterly absorbing -- look at seeds: where they come from, how they grow, and the many things they become, from dandelions to redwoods. Delicate, precise watercolors reveal the hidden worlds that lie at our feet. ($17, Chronicle)

    "I never knew there were so many interesting facts about seeds! My kids both love this book."
    -- Veronica Yankanich, mom of Joe, 6, and Rachel, 3, Collingswood, NJ

    Buy it!

  • 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore
    Jenny Offill; illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

    Kids and parents will laugh at this knowing, sly commentary on a girl's naughtiness. The witty, photo-enhanced art increases the fun. ($16, Schwartz & Wade)

    "The zany heroine kept us constantly surprised."
    -- Carla Smith, mom of Libby, 8, and Chase, 4, Blue Springs, MO

    Buy it!

  • Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones
    Gene Barretta

    Word pairs that sound the same ("The giraffe's long neck/lets him CHOOSE/what he CHEWS") and goofy watercolors make for a sprightly reading game. ($17, Henry Holt)

    "This book gives my kids a look at the relationship between words, and they were able to get through it on their own thanks to the funny pictures."
    -- Aimee Dietz, mom of Alexis, 8, and Siara, 7, North Port, FL

    Buy it!

  • Today I Will Fly!
    Mo Willems

    If you've read Willems before, you know how much fun he is; if not, you owe it to yourself to find out. Wired word patter, frisky cartoons, a pig who tries to fly, and the elephant who discourages him conspire to raise silliness to a higher power. ($9, Hyperion)

    "The simple illustrations and the silliness of the pig make this really fun to read with my son. He laughs out loud through the whole thing."
    --Amanda Chanthavong, mom of Ethan, 5, Fort Worth, TX

    Buy it!

  • 8 to 12 years

    With a clear focus on the things that preteens know and care about, these books give them a first taste of the adventure of reading longer, subtler, and more grown-up stories and poems.

    The Invention of Hugo Cabret
    Brian Selznick

    The year's most original and compelling novel -- with its mixture of graphics and words -- tells a mystery-laden tale of an improbable invention and the lost and found dreams of a plucky French orphan boy scrambling to survive in the back alleys and clockworks of 1930s Paris. ($23, Scholastic)

    "The book seemed intimidating, but as soon as Cailey started reading, she couldn't stop. The pictures combined with the words make the story move so much faster."
    -- Jolyn Flick, mom of Cailey, 12, Cheektowaga, NY

    Buy it!

  • No Talking
    Andrew Clements; illustrated by Mark Elliott

    A boisterous fifth-grade class, nicknamed "the Unshushables," decides, on a dare, to say as little as possible for two whole days. The laugh-out-loud-funny results show kids at their most creative as they puzzle and perplex their teachers by resisting the yen to yak. ($16, Simon & Schuster)

    "Every parent, child, and teacher should read this book. The first night we went through seven out of twenty chapters and wanted to keep going."
    -- Jackie Detloff, mom of Brandyn, 11, and Zachary, 9, Clinton Township, MI

    Buy it!

  • Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems)
    Linda Sue Park; illustrated by Istvan Banyai

    Brain-teasing mini-poems are kicked up another notch by Banyai's genre-defying fine-art cartoonery. ($16, Clarion)

    "Each poem really makes you think"
    -- Cathy Carlisle, mom of Austin, 10, Argos, IN

    Buy it!

    Meet the Judges
    This year's judges, headed by Parenting contributing editor Leonard S. Marcus: Ilene Abramson, director of children's services, Los Angeles Public Library; Kathy East, assistant director/head of children's services, Wood County District Public Library, Bowling Green, OH; and Andy Laties, manager, the Bookshop of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA.

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