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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2011

I had a good time coming up with this list last year, so I figured I’d give it a shot again.  So here you go. If you had a horribly limited library budget and you could only buy 100 children’s books from the year 2011, here are the hundred I would insist you get.  Cutting such a list down to this number is painful to the point of insanity, but cut I did.   Plus, as I systematically linked each book to the review I wrote for it, I couldn’t help but notice my own gaps.  More than once I’ve found myself saying, “I didn’t review that?!?”  Well, we still have a couple days left before the end of the year . . .

Picture Books

  • Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid
  • Ice by Arthur Geisert
  • Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
  • Mitchell’s License by Hallie Durand, illustrated by Tony Fucile
  • My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
  • A New Year’s Reunion: A Chinese Story by Li Qiong Yu
  • Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre
  • Tell Me the Day Backwards by Albert Lamb, illustrated by David McPhail
  • You WILL Be My Friend! by Peter Brown

Folk and Fairytales

  • The Boy from the Dragon Palace by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
  • Gifts from the Gods: Ancient Words and Wisdom from Greek and Roman Mythology by Lise Lunge-Larsen, illustrated by Gareth Hinds
  • How the Leopard God His Claws by Chinua Achebe, illustrated by Mary GrandPre
  • The Mouse and the Lion by Rand Burkert, illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert


  • Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein
  • Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon

Early Chapter Books

  • Clementine: The Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker
  • The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies, illustrated by Hannah Shaw
  • Spunky Tells All by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Graphic Novels

  • Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman
  • Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Phiippe Coudray

Chapter Books

  • The Dragon’s Tooth by N.D. Wilson
  • The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier
  • The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
  • The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill
  • The Ogre of Oglefort by Eva Ibbotson
  • One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin
  • The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley
  • Six Days by Philip Webb
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

Nonfiction Picture Books

  • All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel by Dan Yaccarino
  • America is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown
  • Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet
  • Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins
  • Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World by Allan Drummond
  • The Quite Contrary Man: A True American Tale by Patricia Rusch Hyatt
  • Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud

Nonfiction Chapter Books

  • Drawing from Memory by Allen Say
  • The Mysteries of Angkor Wat by Richard Sobol
About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I am over the moon that you included my book Tall Story in this list of truly magnificent reads! thank you!

  2. What? No cover thumbnails? But seriously, this is a labor of love, and I see a lot of “I’ve been meaning to read thats” on the list. Time for me to get cracking!

  3. Just in time for more Christmas shopping for my great-nieces! This will also help me plug holes in my middle school library collection. How did I miss a new book by Frank Cottrell Boyce? Thanks for the great list, Elizabeth!

    And Candy, if you’re reading comments, Tall Story hasn’t been on the shelf in my library since I catalogued it. Last Friday, as students flew out the doors for our three week winter break, a girl rushed into the library to grab the copy she’d put on hold. I know middle school girls can be overly dramatic, but her “Thank GOD my book is here!” sounded heartfelt to me!

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      I’m on vacation at the moment so thumbnails weren’t going to happen this year. Maybe I’ll be better prepared next?

      And Candy, as far as I can ascertain, the only reason your book isn’t on everybody’s tongue is because it isn’t eligible for a Newbery. If you lived here in the States *hint hint* Tall Story would be known by one and all.

  4. Great list! I have a lot to catch up on. How do you do it all with a baby?! I too loved Tall Story, and it is featured on our “books we are talking about” list at

    I also posted a blog about my tip picture books on our ebranch. Good year!

  5. Wow! Just saw that you included our Benjamin Bear TOON Book. SO THRILLED, thank you! It’s been a great year, with that book getting very strong positive feedback. Your list is a wonderful Holiday present to all of us, and gives me a chance to send you our very best wishes for same holidays, and into the New Year. Much love, Françoise

  6. Thank you, Elizabeth, for including Won Ton on your magnificent list! ME-WOW, I’m in fabulous company. 🙂

  7. Oh, gosh, that thumbnails comment was a joke! This post is already such a huge effort, and shows incredible productivity during a year that YOU HAD A BABY.

  8. Best Christmas present ever! Thanks, Betsy–such great company you keep (these books)! I know you are enjoying every minute of your first Christmas with your little one. (I just made a donation to Goodwill, and in the pocket of the down jacket I was wearing in Fairbanks in 1986, I found a grocery receipt than included Gerber baby food. Seems like yesterday, in some ways.)

  9. Thank you so much for putting in the time to put together a list like this. I feel spoiled quibbling. I see so many best of the year lists and almost none include a category for early readers or include any early readers. Do you know why this is?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Generally speaking early readers, good ones, are so difficult to find that you can never locate enough of them in a given year to hold up as “the best”. Of course, that’s what the Geisel Award is for. And they do a great job. In my line of work I miss a lot of them, so I tend to leave them off of this list. Even the ones that are fantastic tend to be series (Elephant & Piggy, etc.) and don’t need the leg up. But last year I included Grace Lin’s Ling & Ting, so there are always exceptions to the rule.

  10. Dear Betsy – I’ve been out of town for the holidays and just saw your incredible list of books late last night. I promptly shared it with Rafael Lopez. Both he and I are so thrilled that “The Cazuela That The Farm Maiden Stirred” is included in this magnificent list. It’s an honor and a great gift this holiday season. Thank you. I bought many of the books on your list for holiday gifts. Happy New Year.

  11. hello again! hey so nice to read your lovely comments … geography is tough … I have no idea how to promote my book over the pond! But this list is a great help – so thank you!

  12. The list also shows us over here in the UK what a world of books there are out there … the only things I’ve read in my category is A Monster Calls (which I thought was magnificent … and especially poignant because of the story behind the story)

  13. Elle Librarian says

    Thanks for this great list. I would just add SWIRL BY SWIRL to the poetry category and WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE to the chapter books. I am looking forward to reading a few of these that I didn’t get to yet this year! 🙂

  14. Joanne Rocklin says

    I’m so honored and happy about this! Thank you, Elizabeth.

  15. Great list! I don’t know how you managed to narrow the list down to just 100. Daunting!