Top 2012 Picture Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Picture books are some of my favorite reads in any year.  This year I’ve picked my favorite fifteen that I think are simply amazing.  Here are my favorites with links to my full reviews:

and then its spring baby bear sees blue bear has a story to tell

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead – Enchanting and memorable, this is a timeless and effortlessly lovely look at spring and gardens. 

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff – Lush and rich, this picture book has amazing illustrations that celebrate the colors of nature.

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead – OK, I admit that my passion for the work of both of the Steads is definitely showing in this list.  You will see another further down on the list as well.  This is a hauntingly lovely look at seasons, friendships and the power of story.  Gorgeous!

chloe and the lion each kindness extra-yarn-cover

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex – Pure silly fun, this book is a delight to share with children or to read giggling all on your own.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, E. B. Lewis – Pair the power of Woodson’s writing with the realistic and amazing art of Lewis and you can’t help but have a winning read.  Add the timely subject of bullying with a fantastic ending and you have one of my best of the year.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen – Another personal bias is for Mac Barnett’s writing.  He manages to be riotously funny at times and then magical at others.  This is his magical form in a story about unending yarn.  Combined with the art of Klassen and his beautiful take on yarn, makes it one amazingly fresh read.

green home for bird house held up by trees

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger – As I said on my review, this one can just be reviewed as WOW.  Simply WOW.  Surprises, colors, new perspectives, and amazing illustrations, this is a real contender for the Caldecott.

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead – Finding ones home, friendship and a grand quest fill this picture book to the brim and combine wonderfully with the charm of the illustrations.   The last of the Steads on the list.

House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen – Klassen’s art is so amazingly diverse from one picture book to the next.  Here he uses a real delicacy that works beautifully with Kooser’s poem.  This is a deep, courageous read about nature and families.

jimmy the greatest lesters dreadful sweaters oh no

Jimmy the Greatest by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng – A warm beautiful book about the hero who stays to make a difference. 

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K. G. Campbell – The horror of truly awful knitting is unraveled in this book that is unwaveringly silly and funny. 

Oh No! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann – Bravo!  A virtuoso performance by two masters of the picture book craft. 

step gently out town mouse and country mouse

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder – Frost’s poem celebrates slowing down and looking closely and is perfectly accompanied by amazing photographs by Lieder.  Worth lingering over.

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Helen Ward – Sumptuous illustrations combined with simple writing make this a version of the fable that is worthy of celebration.


Unspoken by Henry Cole – This is a profound book that speaks to the importance of personal courage and the difference a person can make.  Wordless, the illustrations soar.

7 thoughts on “Top 2012 Picture Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

  1. I’ve read all but three, and thanks to you I’ve got them on hold at my library now. I really liked Jimmy the Greatest, it was unusual, and the ending kinda threw me off, but somehow I just liked it! Unfortunately I did not GET Chloe and the Lion. Guess that can happen sometimes! Thanks for sharing!


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