School Library Journal Best Books of 2012–Nonfiction

The final installment of the Best Books of 2012 from School Library Journal features nonfiction books for all ages of children.  Here are their top picks:


Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World by Tracey Fern, illustrated by Boris Kulikov


The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins

A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole by Carolyn Cinami Decristofano, illustrated by Michael Carroll

Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin


Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story retold by S. D. Nelson

Chuck Close: Face Book by Chuck Close

Faces from the Past: Forgotten People of North America by James M. Deem


Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim, illustrated by Bryan Collier

I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson


The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin W. Sandler

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola


Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration by Shelley Tougas

Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman

The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch


Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose

Nic Bishop Snakes by Nic Bishop


Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World by Sally M. Walker and Douglas W. Owsley

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson

School Library Journal Best Books of 2012–Fiction

SLJ has named their best books of the year.  Here are the ones that fall into their Fiction category as the best fiction books of 2012:


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Ask the Passengers by A. S. King

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein


The Diviners by Libba Bray

Every Day by David Levithan

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


The Good Braider by Terry Farish

Grave Mercy by R. L. Lafevers

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz


Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Little White Duck by Andres Vera Marinez and Na Liu


The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

My Name is Parvana by Deborah Ellis

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick


No Crystal Stair: A Novel in Documents, Based on the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s by Barbara O’Connor

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate


One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson


Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Son by Lois Lowry

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver


Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Summer of the Mariposas by Guadelupe Garcia McCall

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson


Under the Never Sky by Veronice Rossi

Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket


The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Review: Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin


Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

Follow the birth of a group of islands to the present day in this book that beautifully documents the wonders of the Galapagos.  Opening with the drama of a volcanic eruption six million years ago, the book shows how plants and animals arrive at a new island in the ocean.  As time goes by, the island turns from barren rock to a place of lush green.  Specific attention is paid to the evolution of creatures and plants that are found only on these islands.  Young readers will fully understand why finch beaks grew larger, seagulls got larger eyes, and tortoise shells changed shape.  The book ends with Darwin arriving on the shores of one of the islands.  This book is a celebration of these islands and the wonders of nature.

Chin’s book offers information that is solid and fascinating packaged with illustrations that capture the details of what is being explained.  It makes for a book that is bright and energized and that is clearly nonfiction as well.  The story of the birth and life of an island makes for a magnificent tale that readers are sure to respond to.

In his art, Chin brings the reader up close to what is happening on the island.  We get to look between the mangrove roots at sharks, watch pelicans feast on fish in the lagoons, and see land iguanas float on logs to reach the island.  Even better, as I mentioned earlier, the process of evolution is detailed so that readers can see the gradual but necessary changes that occurred.

This is one incredible nonfiction book that teachers, parents and students will enjoy looking through and learning from.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Best Book Lists Continue!

Wow!  There are a lot of best book lists this year, more than I remember seeing in previous years!  Here are a few that I found recently:

Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2012

The Independent’s Books of the Year 2012: Children’s Books – a best books list from the UK

The Atlantic Wire’s YA/Middle-Grade Book Awards, 2012 Edition

2012 Shortlist for the Scottish Book Trust