Twenty Great New Children’s Books

By Kate Riley November 14, 2011

I love to take my kids to the library to borrow books and also to the bookstore to look for new favorites. I’m always on the hunt for new books to add to their library or give as gifts to other children. This past weekend we visited the local bookstore which has a great children’s section. There were so many great books, we stayed for two hours!

I’m really picky when it comes to children’s books, they have to well written and wonderfully illustrated. Great pictures are a must for me, if I don’t love the illustrations I won’t buy the book! Quite a few new books caught my eye while I was at the bookstore, so I thought I’d compile a list with my quick synopsis of the tales within. 

All of these children’s books include either a heartwarming story or a fun adventure combined with great illustrations. I’ve read and love them all, and even bought a few to tuck under the Christmas tree. If you’re looking for a charming gift for boys and girls this holiday season, I highly recommend these for children ages 4 to 9.  Listed in no order of preference.

 twenty great childrens books 2011


#1  Kiki & Coco in Paris, Stephanie Rausser and Nina Gruener

kiki and coco in paris

Hot of the presses, and perfect for fans of the famous city of Paris.  Kiki is a girl, Coco is her handmade cloth doll, and the two are inseparable. Together they travel to the City of Lights but Coco gets lost!  This tale of friendship will delight, and is filled with gorgeous photography of Paris seen through the eyes of Kiki & Coco.


       #2  Fandango Stew, David Davis

fandango stew cover

Two penniless and famished cowboys ride in to Skinflint and try to convince the stingy townsfolk to help them cook up some fandango stew. Cooperation leads to a tasty concoction everyone loves in this humorous take on the folktale Stone Soup.  It’s as fun to look at as it is to read out loud, filled with all the best of the Old West slang.  


#3  E-mergency!  Tom Lichtenheld & Ezra Fields Meyer


The alphabet all lives together in harmony until one day the letter E takes a tumble down the stairs.  Chaos ensues!  How will the world function without the letter E?  While E recovers, the letter O fills in, and the jokes and puns keep readers laughing throughout.  


#4  Mustache!  by Mac Barnett

moustache mac barnett

King Duncan is incredibly vain and cares about nothing but himself. One day his subjects rebel and place King Duncan in a hairy situation. The illustrations by Kevin Cornell are brilliant and not to miss!


#5  Up and Down, Oliver Jeffers

up and down oliver jeffers

The continuing story of friendship between a boy and his penguin.  Penguin wants so badly to fly and the boy supports him in his unrealistic ambitions.  Lovely watercolor illustrations in this sequel to Lost and Found.


#6  Miss Smith: Under the Ocean, Michael Garland

miss smith under the ocean

Miss Smith is the best teacher ever, when she opens a storybook, it comes alive!  This author’s series continues when historic nautical characters come to life in this aquarium field trip. The adventure quickly turns into a seafaring tale with special appearances from characters in Moby Dick, Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


#7  The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, Mark Pett & Gary Rubenstein

the girl who never made mistakes

Everyone knows that Beatrice is perfect in every way.  She never forgets her homework and her socks always match.  One day, she actually makes a mistake in front of a large audience of people, gasp!  Beatrice learns through laughter that life is much more fun when you’re perfectly imperfect.     


#8  The Boy Who Cried Ninja, Alex Latimer

 the boy who cried ninja

Tim keeps getting in trouble due to some strange visitors around his house. Do Tim’s explanations for mysterious occurrences have a grain of truth?  Find out by reading this clever twist on The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  Charming artwork by both author and illustrator.


#9   What Animals Really Like, Fiona Robinson

what animals really like

Conductor Timberteeth gets quite upset when the animals change the lyrics of his latest song.  Read all about the mayhem that ensues when the animals tell Timberteeth their unpredictable preferences in this story celebrating nonconformity. 


#10   The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town, Mary Cassanova

dirk yeller cover

One western town’s people are shaking in their boots when they hear Dirk Yeller is coming to town. Young Sam observes Dirk’s itchin’ and twitchin’ and reasons correctly that he just might have the solution to tame the outlaw.  


   #11  Press Here, Hervet Tullet

press here herve tullet

Readers interact with colorful dots in this clever adventure where children are invited to press, shake, tilt, and blow on the dots to see what magic occurs when they do. The narrator acts as coach and encourages and congratulates along the way.  Children are guaranteed to beg for a repeat performance. 


#12  Perfect Square, Michael Hall

perfect square

One perfectly formed square is oh so content until it finds itself transformed into something else.  Perfect square discovers a whole new world when it’s torn, shredded, or cut, then made into something more beautiful.  The message to be creative and think outside the box!


#13  Bailey, Harry Bliss


Bailey is not your average pup.  He’s equally as smart as children so naturally he goes to school with them.  Bailey takes children on a fun adventure from from art class to math class to the playground but manages to unintentionally stir up trouble simply because of his instincts to dig and wag.  Written and illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss. 


   #14   PaperToy Monsters, Brian Castleforte

papertoy monsters

Part book, part playmate, this book is sure to delight your young monster loving lad.  Complete with 50 perforated mutants and space monsters that pop out and come together to form a perfect boy’s world (ages 5 to 9) with characters such as Scorpion Robot and Yucky Chucky.  25 designers from around the world contribute. 


#15  Cars Galore, Peter Stein

cars galore

Here’s a nonstop parade of cars in all shapes, sizes, and personalities brought to you in rhythmic verse.  Illustrations are both whimsical and modern.


#16  King Hugo’s Huge Ego, Chris Van Dusen

king hugos huge ego cover

King Hugo’s foolishness is on display in this rhythmic and rhyming tale of a self absorbed King who eventually learns modesty.  Great facial expressions throughout.


#17  Mirror Mirror, Marilyn Singer

mirror mirror

This book was released in 2010 and has since received a lot of accolades. It proves there are two sides to every story with its recitation of poetry with the lines reversed from so many classic fairy tales and fables.  Amazingly clever and beautifully illustrated.


#18  Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band, Kwame Alexander

  acoustic rooster and his barnyard band

For the younger crowd (ages 3-5), this jazz loving rooster is out to form the best barnyard band, and partners with other talented musical critters such as Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald for a rockin’ good time.


#19  Carmine, A Little More Red, Melissa Sweet

carmine a little more red

Debuted a few years ago, but I just discovered it so it made my list.  Carmine is a painter on her way to Granny’s house in this clever retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood.  The author highlights sophisticated words like “lurking” and “surreal” for her young readers to learn in this modern adventure.


#20  Sea of Dreams, Dennis Nolan

sea of dreams

A young girl’s sandcastle is overtaken by the incoming tide and the inhabitants are forced to sail the open seas to save themselves in this dreamlike wordless adventure that allows the reader to make up the words as he or she goes along.

All of the above links are (non affiliate) Amazon links but please also shop for these wonderful books at your local bookstore to support your local merchants!

Hope you enjoy this collection of wonderful new children’s books. What say you Moms and Dads?  What are the best children’s books you’re enjoying with your little ones these days? 




  1. Thank you so much for compiling this list!! All of the books look wonderful and I think there are so many that my kids would enjoy. You just made my Christmas shopping a lot easier by doing all the legwork for me!

  2. i used to love doing the library and book stores with my kiddos when they were small. we have such good memories of reading them bedtime stories. even though they are grown i still have almost every childhood book they have owned. i look forward to reading them to my grandchildren…someday.
    thanks for sharing these, they look great.

  3. I would like to see what you read also…used bookstores also have a wonderful selection of children’s books! I have found many beautiful vintage children’s books for practically nothing….plus they keep the sweet memories of each cherished page moving along through the generations!

  4. Thank you so much Kate! I love children’s literature too – one of my college minors. It’s always so fun to hear about great new literature. I’ll have to add a few of these to our Christmas lists for sure! I’m getting ready to post my favorite Christmas books…. but I keep getting sidetracked by your amazing blog. :)

  5. This is a wonderful post! I also like the “Elephant and Piggy” books by Mo Willems. They really helped my son learn how to read with a sense of humor. Thanks so much for your list and reviews!

  6. Thank you so much for this list, Kate! I just spent a couple of hours online gathering inspiration for Christmas gifts, so this couldn’t have come at a better time. I plan to give a couple of the books you mentioned to my kids. I am especially looking forward to E-mergency, since that author’s Shark vs. Train is a favorite of ours. And Mirror, Mirror, which I’d never heard of, sounds amazing.

  7. Thank you so much for the list! I added them all to our hold list at the library. My boys will be thrilled!

  8. We loved Press Here! It was as much fun for me as for my son. It was awesome to see how his face would light up when he “made” the dots change! Highly recommend it! Thanks for the list. I will definitely put these on our reading list.

  9. Thank you for this wonderful list! I love book recommendations. I would add one more, it’s very old actually but recently went back into print. It’s called Andrew Henry’s Meadow, and it is a brilliant book, especially for children who like to build amazing creations and contraptions. ❈

  10. I made me sad to read this sentence:

    “space monsters that pop out and come together to form a perfect BOY’s world”

    Who say girls cant enjoy monsters?

    I was really disappointed, I guess I just thought you would be a person that wouldnt put kids into categories based on gender, but maybe that just shows how little we know of our blogging friends out there…

    • Hi Jessie, I’m sorry you feel that way. From my observation, the mutant and monster pop out book is marketed to boys, in fact I bought if for my own 5 year old, but my daughter may be interested in it too, we’ll see, could be! I feel the entire list is a good representation of some of the best in children’s books for both boys and girls for the year.

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this list! I am a huge fan of giving books as gifts, and am often at a loss as to what to give (since we live overseas and I can’t frequent the bookstores myself). So many of these sound like “keepers” :)

  12. Great reviews!! My girls love to be read to. :) The western book looks really funny. And I totally judge a book by its cover. Isn’t that awful? But kids are so drawn to the pictures–they have to be good to hold their attention.

    We’re big fans of the Berenstain Bears books, Fancy Nancy, and any of the old classic Little Golden books. My 5 year old has also enjoyed me reading the Junie B. Jones books to her. Junie is a bit, shall we say, sassy…but they are pretty funny little chapter books.

    They also really like books on tape! It took us forever, but we just finished “The Tale of Desperaux” in the car, and they loved it.

    • Thanks for the tip on listening to books in the car Amanda, what a great idea for road trips and errands around town, thanks!!

  13. We have a new favorite – Princess Hyacynth: The Surprising Tale of the Girl Who Floated, by Florence Parry Heide

    It’s really funny for kids and grownups. The illustrations are quirky (Lane Smith) and even the typeface becomes part of the storytelling. Very creative, released in 2009.

    Thanks for the reviews, we’ll check them out!

  14. I love reading to my girls and no matter how old they get (our oldest is 11) they still love to be read to. I make up funny voices for the characters and can’t forget whose voice is whose! We especially love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom alphabet book, The Day the Babies Crawled Away, and I read Rumble in the Jungle so much when they were toddlers that I memorized the great book! Oh, and let’s not forget Skippy John Jones, that mischievious kitty! He actually is responsible for the start of all my voices!

  15. Thanks for this! My little one is still in the I’d Rather Chew The Book Than Pay Attention stage, but these books sound fabulous for the future years to come! I agree…I don’t buy a children’s book unless I love the illustrations and agree with the story. I love Chris Van Allsburg!

  16. i LOVE children’s lit.

    my girls are now into chapter novels, but they aren’t quite advanced enough to read *serious* chapter novels, so they tend to read things about fairies and unicorns and puppies and so on :)

    some of my favorite children’s books are by far the ezra jack keats books, specifically, ‘the snowy day’. i have no idea why, but this may well be one of my favorite books of all times. i’m also in love with ‘the giving tree’ by shel silverstein. so many good books. it’s hard to find a favorite or two.

    i love the book ‘someday’ by allison mcghee. i cry nearly every time. lol.

    • Hi Ashlee, I love the book ‘Someday’ too! Great message and you’re right, it’s one of those sweet books that brings on the tears!

  17. Wow, these are great! Thanks for sharing, I am always on the lookout for great new books. My daughter’s new favorite is Ponyella by Laura Numeroff. Great for a horse loving little girl.

  18. I love kids books, they make me smile every time I read them. The Hairy McClary books are my “go to” books, for the 4-6 year ages. And one of my all time favorite Christmas books is the Christmas miracle of Jonathan Toomey. it is a classic that my family still reads every year.

  19. The Book Tree (you can buy it at Canon Press) has hundreds of great recommendations for children’s books at every reading level. I have bought dozens of books recommended by the authors and haven’t been disappointed once. I’m a super-picky teacher, too. :)

  20. Fantastic list! My nephew loves to read and I never know what book to get for him. This will be very helpful for Christmas shopping this year!

  21. LOL! My daughter’s best friend’s name is Kiki and Kiki’s toy poodle is called Coco. Guess what Kiki is getting for Christmas? Thanks for crossing yet another thing off my holiday to-do list. As for books, we love Mrs. Hen’s Big Surprise by Christel Desmoinaux (especially nice for families formed by adoption).

  22. Great list! I’m totally interested in Fandango Stew for my boy. Always looking for Christmas ideas. Thanks!

  23. I got a friend’s children ‘A Sick Day for Amos McGee’ by Philip C. Stead and ‘Children Make Terrible Pets’ by Peter Brown. They love them.

  24. One favorite childrens story book of mine is “Flossie and the Fox”. I don’t know the author, or when it was published, but it’s a twist on the LIttle Red Riding hood story that I’ve always enjoyed.

    Right now my girls are loving the Little House books. My oldest is only 4, but she and her little sisters are constantly asking for more Mary and Laura, so I think a good book spans many ages.

  25. My absolute favorites–and I hope someone will check them out–are the Lynley Dodd books. She has a beautiful lyrical style, sweet illustrations, and they are actually quite FUN for adults to read. You know those books that are really boring for parents? Like Clifford the Big Red Dog? **gag** Her books are nothing like that. I’m keeping the 10 or so that we have and keeping them for my grandkids. Harry Maclary and Zachary Quack is one of my faves. Check them out!

  26. Thank you so much for taking the time to compile this list! You just helped me with my Christmas shopping.

    I’m presently working on a magazine article that includes some summer-themed picture books. A few that I’m mentioning seem to fit your criteria as well. They include:

    Mama is it Summer Yet
    A Butterfly is Patient
    One Morning in Maine
    Davy’s Dream

    Thanks again for your post!


  27. Thanks for such a great list! We’ve started weekly visits to the library now we have a list to check out and check off :)
    My favorite author is Julia Donaldson, she has written The Gruffalo, The Troll, Room on the Broom, What the ladybug heard… Her books are such fun reads even for Mom and Dad.

  28. Awesome inspiration! We start fall break tomorrow, and I think the boys and I will take a field trip to the bookstore!

  29. Oh, wow – thanks for the suggestions! My little one is JUST BARELY starting to tolerate being still for a book, but oh, how I look forward to reading to her more regularly (and without having to coax her!! haha!) I am going to check out that Mustache book next time I’m at Barnes & Noble! It looks so cute!!

  30. Thanks so much for this list! I am a future teacher compiling a list of books to acquire for my classroom! Thanks again for the great ideas!

  31. I LOVE this list! Love GOOD children’s books. I published my 1st children’s book this year! I have run a daycare in my home for over 23 years. 20 years ago, I wrote a story about a little boy named Oliver – it’s basically 1 day in this boy’s life & how everything he does is a min-adventure. Please check out my website or my FaceBook Fan Page – Oliver’s Amazing Imagination. Thank you so much for the list – can’t wait to check all of these out! They look awesome!

  32. Being a librarian, I must say my favorite book on your list is “The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town.” I had the privilege of hosting the author Mary Casanova at our library, and she explained how the first line of the book actually came to her in a dream. Great list!

  33. Love this list & they were all new to me! :) Can’t wait to find them at our library. Some of our favorites right now are “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear” “Duck & Goose” books & any of the “If you give a Mouse a Cookie” books!

  34. thanks for posting this list! i have checked out of the library all the ones that they have available and my kids have thoroughly enjoyed them at bedtime. :-)

  35. Great list and I agree wholeheartedly that the illustrations have to be fabulous or I won’t buy the book. I am a grandmother and a professional nanny who has read to dozens of children for the past 40 years, every chance I get. I have hundreds of favorites and share lists with young mothers and other grandmas who need suggestions.

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)