Another installment on the book ideas for holiday giving…this time, picture books! Thirty-two pages of illustrated storytelling, in a variety of genres. All the books on this list are hardcovers, published in 2012.
If you don’t want to give a book alone, picture books lend themselves easily to pairing with toys, stuffed animals, fashion, craft supplies or collectibles for any age!
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2012 Holiday Gift Ideas
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen
This looks like an ordinary box full of ordinary yarn. But it turns out it isn’t! A monochrome town gets a change of color and attitude with the help of a box of yarn and a girl named Annabelle. From the seemingly endless box of Extra Yarn Annabelle knits clothing for everyone around her, tempering the ill-tempered, and creating beautifully patterned warmth for people, animals, and objects, alike. When a greedy clothes-loving archduke tries to buy–then steal–the box for himself, he discovers that ill-gotten gains bear no fruit–or in this case, yarn.
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, Illustrated by Paul Zelinsky
Z is for Zebra. Zebra is absolutely certain he’ll be able to direct everyone to appear on the correct page, at the appropriate time, without any mishaps, unnecessary drama, or hurt feelings. It’s the ABCs, for goodness’ sake. How difficult can it be?
But there is just one…small…problem.
Zebra forgot about Moose.
A Perfect Day by Carin Berger
After it snowed, everyone bundled up and went outside to play.
You come, too!
Carin Berger’s exquisite collages illuminate, from dawn to dusk, the perfect winter day.
Homer by Elisha Cooper
Home isn’t just where the heart is. Home is often where the dog is!
Emerging one by one from a seaside home, Homer’s family invites him along to explore the beach, the market, the field. He gently declines each offer, remaining comfortably on the porch. As, one by one, the family returns with gifts from their wanderings, Homer warmly receives their treasures and enthusiastic accounts. And for this loyal dog—who you will recognize if you have ever loved a dog—home is where you are.
Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, art by Ed Young
Late at night, when all is quiet and everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps silently through the house. Stealthy and silent, he is on his midnight mission, breaking into a house to steal some treasure. He sneaks and balances, practiced and undetectable. Soon he reaches his ultimate goal…and gets a big surprise! Will the nighttime ninja complete his mission?
Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney
Llama Llama has new neighbors! Nelly Gnu and her mama stop by for a play date, but Llama’s not so sure it’s time to share all his toys. Maybe just his blocks? It could be fun to make a castle with Nelly . . . But wait–Nelly has Llama’s little Fuzzy Llama! The fun turns to tears when Fuzzy Llama is ripped in two, “all because of Nelly Gnu!” Mama comes to the rescue and fixes Fuzzy, but she makes it clear: “I’ll put Fuzzy on the stairs, until you’re sure that you can share.”
Oh, No! by Candace Fleming & Eric Rohmann
Young children will delight in repeating the refrain “OH, NO!” as one animal after another falls into a deep, deep hole in this lively read-aloud. This simple and irresistible picture book by hugely popular picture book creators—Candace Fleming and Caldecott medalist Eric Rohmann—feels like a classic-in-the-making. Fans of Rohmann’s Caldecott Medal-winning My Friend Rabbit, will be thrilled to see a new book created in the same expressive and comical style.
Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can’t think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story.
This is the perfect gift book for any child who loves to write. Pair it with Rocket Learns to Read for even more fun!
This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers
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.
Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins and G. Brian Karas
On a cold winter day as a mean wind blows and icicles hang from windowsills, Pauline and her younger brother, John-John, decide to have a lemonade stand.A lemonade stand in winter? Yes, that’s exactly what Pauline and John-John intend to have, selling lemonade and limeade–and also lemon-limeade. With a catchy refrain (Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LIMEADE! Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LEMONADE!), plus simple math concepts throughout, here is a read-aloud that’s great for storytime and classroom use, and is sure to be a hit among the legions of Jenkins and Karas fans.
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
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. . . . Who would tell?
Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue, Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Once there was a little girl who didn’t want to sleep. Her parents say she doesn’t have to but insist she put on her pj’s anyway. Once in bed (though not tired!), the girl asks about how animals sleep, and her parents tell her about cats and bats, whales and snails. When she’s still not sleepy, her parents say she can stay up all night ! She finds a warm spot like a cat, folds her arms like the wings of a bat, curls up like a snail, and falls asleep like the animal who sleeps to be strong—the tiger.
Machines Go to Work in the City by William Low
Toddlers love machines and things that go, and this book gives them everything they want, from a bucket truck to a tower crane to an airplane. Every other spread has an interactive gatefold which extends the original picture to three pages, revealing something new about each situation. The last spread diagrams each city machine, providing additional information for young readers to pore over again and again. William Low’s classically-trained artist’s eye adds a new layer to this genre, and both parents and children will appreciate the beautiful illustrations, the attention to detail, and the clever situational twists revealed by lifting the flaps.
Creepy Carrots! By Aaron Reynolds, pictures by Peter Brown
The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who 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. He eats them all the time! As you can imagine, the carrots aren’t too happy with this situation. And one day. the carrots start following him. What will Jasper do?
Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
It’s snowy cold in the town of Toby Mills. The thermometer is sinking toward zero, and the icicle hanging from the nose of General Toby’s statue is growing closer to the ground. The newspaper headline reads “COLD SNAP!” The people of the town are losing hope—and the feeling in their toes—until the mayor’s wife saves the day with a toasty treat. From cocoa and sweaters to hot-water bottles, Spinelli (A Big Boy Now) catalogues all the ways people find warmth in winter; despite the harsh weather!
A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
While out foraging for interesting things, Vernon the toad finds a new friend – a small blue bird who is curiously silent. Vernon shows Bird the river and the forest and some of his other favorite things, but Bird says nothing. Vernon introduces Bird to his friends, Skunk and Porcupine, but Bird still says nothing. “Bird is shy,” says Vernon, “but also a very good listener.” Vernon worries that Bird is silent because he misses his home, so the two set off on a journey to help find a home for Bird.
The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart, pictures by David Small
When Isabel and her family move to the United States, Isabel misses all the things she left behind in Mexico, especially her aunt Lupita and hearing people speak Spanish. But she also experiences some wonderful new things. Even better, Papa and her brother Chavo help her turn a big box into her own quiet place, where she keeps her books and toys and writes letters to Aunt Lupita. As she decorates and adds more and more on to her quiet place, it is here that Isabel feels the most at home in her new country while she learns to adjust to the changes in her life.
If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen
In If I Built a Car, imaginative Jack dreamed up a whimsical fantasy ride that could do just about anything. Now he’s back and ready to build the house of his dreams, complete with a racetrack, flying room, and gigantic slide. Jack’s limitless creativity and infectious enthusiasm will inspire budding young inventors to imagine their own fantastical designs. Buy both books for an imagine-packed treat! Chris Van Dusen’s vibrant illustrations marry retro appeal with futuristic style as he, once again, gives readers a delightfully rhyming text that absolutely begs to be read aloud.
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by 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!
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Maya is different–she wears hand-me-downs and plays with old-fashioned toys. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her gang, they reject her. Eventually, Maya plays alone, and then stops coming to school altogether. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya. This book will resonate with readers long after they’ve put it down.
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Picture books are often the most difficult to give as gifts, because there are so many to choose from! We hope this list will give you a good starting point. And if you give a picture book to a child, may we suggest you write the date and a note to the recipient inside the book cover? The personalization will make it not only a gift, but a treasured memory.
(And even if you’re not looking for gifts, read these books. They’re some of the best of 2012! We’re talking potential Caldecott Award winners here…)