NY Times Best of 2010

Notable Children’s Books of 2010

 

Illustration by Jakob Hinrichs

BUSING BREWSTER
By Richard Michelson.
Illustrated by R. G. Roth.

Unpaged. Knopf. $16.99. (Ages 6 to 10)

Brewster is a black child living in a segregated neighborhood in the early 1970s. He’s not dreaming of a way out, only of starting first grade with Miss Evelyn — until his mother announces that he and his brother will be bused to the “white school” an hour away. The understated honesty of Michelson’s writing and Roth’s art capture the period perfectly in this tale, one of this year’s New York Times best illustrated children’s books.

CENTER FIELD
By Robert Lipsyte.
280 pp. HarperTeen/HarperCollins. $16.99. (Ages 12 and up)

Lipsyte’s pitch-perfect young adult novel follows a jaded but likable suburban kid who wants only to play center field, where it’s “open and clean, no foul lines or crazy angles.” But it takes time to get there. The suburb he lives in, with its neglected teenagers, overworked adults and scheming, self-serving authority figures, seems like a stand-in for early-21st-century America.

DUST DEVIL
By Anne Isaacs.
Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Unpaged. Schwartz & Wade. $17.99. (Ages 5 to 9)

In this gorgeous sequel to the Caldecott Honor-winning “Swamp Angel,” the brave and resourceful Angelica Long rider, all of 16 years old, once again proves herself worthy to wear the boots of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill or John Henry. Zelinsky’s precise and witty illustrations, in American primitive style, match Isaacs’ text, which captures the outsize tone of the frontier, where the soil is “rich enough to open its own bank.”

IT’S A BOOK
Written and illustrated by Lane Smith.
Unpaged. Roaring Brook. $12.99. (Ages 6 and up)

A mouse, a jackass and a monkey discover something flat and rectangular, with a hard cover and soft pages inside. “Do you blog with it?” the jackass wonders. No, and it can’t text or Tweet, either. A spread in which the jackass reads this mystery object with growing delight “is one of the nicest sequences in recent picture books,” our reviewer, Adam Gopnik, said.

LING AND TING: Not Exactly the Same!
Written and illustrated by Grace Lin.
43 pp. Little, Brown. $14.99. (Ages 6 to 9)

Ling and Ting are twins, but “we are not exactly the same,” they say. This pocketful of very short stories, Lin’s first early reader, is enlivened by inviting drawings in plum, cherry and lime, with soft-edged stripes and polka dots. In one chapter the girls react very differently to a haircut; in another their homemade dumplings bear marks of their effortless individuality.

THE LITTLE PRINCE
Written and illustrated by Joann Sfar.
Translated by Sarah Ardizzone.
Adapted from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

110 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $19.99. (Ages 10 and up)

This graphic novel brings the classic fable to life with a new character: the pilot (a stand-in for the original author) who crash-lands on the Prince’s planet. Here we see Saint-Exupéry’s plane disappear over the waves, as it did in real life. “The Prince’s protracted nighttime goodbye . . . is newly touching, and harrowing,” Dan Kois wrote in his review.

MOCKINGJAY
By Suzanne Collins.
390 pp. Scholastic. $17.99. (Ages 12 and up)

This is the final installment in Collins’s engrossing “Hunger Games” trilogy, in which the future is a giant reality- television show and politics, war and entertainment have become indistinguishable. Katniss Everdeen, 17, the figurehead of a rebellion against the decadent Capitol, is a terrific heroine: part Pippi Longstocking, part girl with the dragon tattoo.

THE QUIET BOOK
By Deborah Underwood.
Illustrated by Renata Liwska.

Unpaged. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $12.95. (Ages 3 to 5)

“There are many kinds of quiet: First one awake quiet; jelly side down quiet; don’t scare the robins quiet.” Underwood’s beautifully spare text follows this pattern throughout, accompanied by Liwska’s illustrations of animals (colored in an appropriately hushed palette). In one image, the animals, in a convertible, drive windblown through a snowstorm: “car ride at night quiet.”

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