Best Books for Young People

By Elizabeth Ward
Sunday, December 9, 2007

For Children

Dimity Dumpty: The Story of Humpty's Little Sister, by Bob Graham (Candlewick, $15.99; ages 4-8). In this dainty comic riff, Dimity Dumpty comes out of her shell after her brother's great fall.

Leaves, by David Ezra Stein (Putnam, $15.99; ages 4-8). A bear cub notices a leaf falling. Should he put it back? The most engaging lesson ever on the seasonal cycle.

Little Donkey and the Birthday Present, by Rindert Kromhout, translated from the Dutch by Marianne Martens (NorthSouth, $15.95; ages 4-8). An everyday tale of birthday politics is rendered transcendent by its setting, full of mountain peaks, steep paths and prayer flags.

Maisy Big, Maisy Small, by Lucy Cousins (Candlewick, $15.99; ages 2-6). Maisy stale, Maisy fresh! Maisy has never been more fun than in this surprising book of opposites.

Pierre in Love, by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Petra Mathers (Orchard, $16.99; ages 4-8). Pierre the fisherman, who's a mouse, or possibly a weasel, plots to win the heart of Catherine the ballet teacher, who's a rabbit.

Tiger's Story, by Harriet Blackford, illustrated by Manya Stojic (Boxer, $12.95; ages 3-6). Spectacular paintings enhance a zoologist's account of a "small, strong, stripy cub" growing up and lighting out for his own territory.

Today and Today, by Issa, arranged and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Scholastic, $16.99; ages 4-8). Haiku by an 18th-century poet show a year in one family's life.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses, by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Rachel Isadora (Putnam, $16.99; ages 4-8). A dazzling, African-inspired take on the Grimms' tale of the dozen royal sisters who mysteriously wear out their shoes every night.

The Zoo, by Suzy Lee (Kane/Miller, $15.95; ages 4-8). This stunning book from South Korea compresses the big question about zoos -- are they places of wretchedness or wonder, or both?

For Pre-teens

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose: The Story of a Painting, by Hugh Brewster (Kids Can, $17.95; ages 9-12). A beautifully illustrated book based on John Singer Sargent's painting of two small girls lighting paper lanterns in an autumn dusk.

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