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100 Magnificent Children’s Books 2013

Well, every year I like to put out my list of 100 Magnificent Children’s Books from the publishing year. So far I’ve done this in 2010 and 2011 and 2012.  And every year the list looks suspiciously similar in some spots to the 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing list that NYPL produces. Little wonder, but I always like to use my own particular list to highlight those titles I love more than life itself but that are getting passed over. Here then were some favorites of the year. Not all my favorites, obviously (I read quite a bit of magnificent stuff) but at the very least 100 I care for with links to those I reviewed.  And yes. I’m shamelessly self-promoting at the same time.

Picture Books (For Children Ages 2-6)

Battle Bunny by Mac Barnett and Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Matthew Myers. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Ben Rides On by Matt Davies. Roaring Brook Press
The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Daniel Handler. Candlewick Press
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle. Chronicle Books
Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird. Illustrated by Brandon Dorman. Greenwillow Books
Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley. Peter Pauper Press
Here I Am by Patti Kim. Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez. Capstone
Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon. Roaring Brook Press
It’s Monday, Mrs. Jolly Bones by Warren Hanson.  Illustrated by Tricia Tusa Beach Lane Books
Journey by Aaron Becker. Candlewick
Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Candlewick
The Mighty LaLouche by Matthew Olshan. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Schwartz & Wade
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! by Peter Brown. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales. Roaring Brook Press
No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OHora. Dial
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams Books for Young Readers
Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid. Albert Whitman & Co.
The Silver Button by Bob Graham. Candlewick
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea. Disney – Hyperion
Water in the Park: A Book About Water and the Times of Day by Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. Schwartz & Wade
Wild by Emily Hughes. Flying Eye Books
Yes, Let’s by Galen Goodwin Longstreth. Illustrated by Maris Wicks. Tanglewood Publishing 


Folktales and Fairy Tales

Aesop in California by Doug Hensen. Heyday
Can’t Scare Me! by Ashley Bryan. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Demeter and Persephone by Hugh Lupton & Daniel Morden. Illustrated by Carole Henaff. Barefoot Books
Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters. Roaring Brook Press
Hansel and Gretel by The Brothers Grimm. Illustrated by Sybille Schenker. minedition
Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse. Illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Treasury of Egyptian Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Monsters & Mortals by Donna Jo Napoli. Illustrated by Christina Balit . National Geographic
Whiskers, Tails and Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico by Judy Goldman. Illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck. Charlesbridge



Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard. Illustrated by David Slonim. Candlewick
God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane Books
Rutherford B., Who Was He? Poems About Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by John Hendrix. Hyperion Books for Children
Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Carin Berger. Greenwillow
We Go Together: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse by Calef Brown. HMH Books for Young Readers
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings by Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Pamela Zagaresnski. HMH Books for Young Readers
When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis. Chronicle Books


Stories (For Children Ages 6-8)

Bowling Alley Bandit (The Adventures of Arnie The Doughnut #1) by Laurie Keller. Henry Holt and Co.
Call Me Oklahoma by Miriam Glassman. Holiday House
Gum Girl: Chews Your Destiny by Rhode Montijo. Disney – Hyperion
The Meanest Birthday Girl by Josh Schneider. Clarion Books
Mysterious Traveler by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham. Illustrated by P.J. Lynch. Candlewick
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books
Starring Jules (As Herself) by Beth Ain. Scholastic
The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan. Katherine Tegen Books


Graphic Novels

Ariol: Just a Donkey Like You or Me by Emmanuel Guibert Illustrated by Marc Boutavant. Papercutz
Bluffton: My Summer With Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan. Candlewick
Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox. Graphix
Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale. Harry N. Abrams
Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists ed. by Chris Duffy. First Second
Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson. Flying Eye Books
Jane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood
Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown. Scholastic, Inc.
Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell. Top Shelf Productions
The Silver Six by A. J. Lieberman. Illustrated by Darren Rawlings. GRAPHIX


Stories (For Children Ages 9-12)

Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad by Monica Edinger. Illustrated by Robert Byrd. Candlewick
Ballad by Blexbolex. Enchanted Lion Press
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federele. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Candlewick
The Center of Everything by Linda Urban, Harcourt Children’s Books
Doll Bones by Holly Black. Margaret K. McElderry Books
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by K.G. Campbell. Candlewick Press
A Girl Called Problem by Katie Quirk. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
The Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell. Harper Collins
Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli. Alfred A. Knopf
How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks. HMH Books for Young Readers
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. Knopf Books for Young Readers
The Other Side of Free by Krista Russell. Peachtree Publishers
Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett Krosoczka. Walden Pond Press
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu. Walden Pond Press
Rose by Holly Webb. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co.)  by Jonathan Stroud. Disney-Hyperion
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis. Candlewick Press
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore. Walker Children’s
Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones. Candlewick
Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry. Random House Books for Young Readers
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow



Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers, and Claws by Ingo Arndt. Holiday House
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős by Deborah Heiligman. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Roaring Brook Press
The Boy On the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible… On Schindler’s List by Leon Layson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith, Jr. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Amistad
The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle. Lerner Publishing Group
Courage Has No Color, the True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tonya Lee Stone. Candlewick
Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy. Paula Wiseman Books
Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People by Susan Goldman Rubin. Abrams Books for Young Readers
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin. Readers to Eaters
Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey. Lerner Publishing Group
Jumping Penguins by Jesse Goossens, illustrated by Marije Tolman. Lemniscaat
Locomotive by Brian Floca. Richard Jackson Books
The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg & Sandra Jordan. Roaring Brook Press
Master George’s People: George Washington, His Slaves, and His Revolutionary Transformation by Marfe Ferguson Delano. National Geographic Children’s Books
Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery by Margaret Weitekamp and David DeVorkin. Illustrated by Diane Kidd. Abrams Books for Young Readers
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Knopf Books for Young Readers
To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Doreen Rappaport. Illustrated by C. F. Payne.  Disney  -Hyperion
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever  by H. Joseph Hopkins. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry. Beach Lane Books
Wild Animal Neighbors: Sharing Our Urban World by Ann Downer. Lerner Publishing Group.


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. Get Down! GIANT DANCE PARTY! Woot! Woot!

  2. Thrilled to see so much nonfiction on the list!

  3. Wow! You’ve drawn up quite a list. Thanks for the great resource. I know I’ll find lots for my second-grade friends here.

  4. Great list! I would have added Eruption! to the nonfiction list. It’s my favorite of this year, with its pacing, tension, excellent research, and inclusion of observers and scientists from other countries.

  5. Today I’ve been using a lot of “Best of 2013” lists to prioritize my wish list. What stands out as I go through this list is exactly how many books on it I ALREADY BOUGHT– and I realize just how much I’ve relied on your reviews to make purchasing decisions! Thanks for your great taste!

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Awww. Thanks, darlin’. And I’ll try to do a better job about reviewing soon. This past month has been hectic, but I hope to change that soon. Thanks for the kind words!


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