Alla Dreyvitser/The Washington Post (Alla Dreyvitser/The Washington Post)

Fanciful tales of rabbit detectives, thrilling stories that actually happened and delightful picture books that you’re never too old to cuddle up with and enjoy are among The Washington Post Book World reviewers’ choices for the best kids books of the year.

Remember, putting a book or two on your holiday wish list is never a bad idea!


Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin

Age 10 and older. $19.99.

What country will be the first to create the atomic bomb and determine the course of World War II? Brainy scientists and conniving spies drive this fast-paced thriller, which happens to be true!

— Mary Quattlebaum

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle” by Claire A. Nivola

Ages 4-8. $17.99.

Featuring fascinating details of sea life as well as a sense of an ocean’s size, this picture-book biography captures how the pioneering scientist’s quest to explore and understand the underwater world began with a pair of goggles.

— Abby Nolan

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World” by Tracey Fern

Age 5 and older. $17.99.

Born in 1873, Barnum Brown dug far and wide, discovering more dinosaur bones than anyone else, including the first Tyrannosaurus rex. Boris Kulikov’s playful illustrations beautifully match Tracey Fern’s informative text.

— A.N.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind With the Great Survivor B95” by Phillip Hoose

Age 10 and older. $21.99.

This book mixes facts, photos and some guesswork in telling the story of one migratory shorebird’s life. Traveling the globe, he has had to fly for three days straight.

— A.N.

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust” by Doreen Rappaport

Age 10 and older. $22.99.

Resistance against the actions of Nazis during World War II took many forms, which are explored in this deeply researched and thoughtfully illustrated account of Jewish efforts.

— A.N.


Son” by Lois Lowry

Age 12 and older. $17.99.

A teenager escapes her controlling community to find her lost child in the compelling conclusion to the young adult series that began with “The Giver,” which won the 1994 Newbery Medal.

— M.Q.

Wonder” by R. J. Palacio

Ages 8-12. $15.99.

Challenges, bullies and new friends await fifth-grader Auggie, a funny, brave kid with a malformed face. This novel explores the pain of cruelty and the power of kindness.

— M.Q.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire!” by Polly Horvath

Ages 9–11. $16.99.

What do rabbits wearing platform shoes, evil foxes, Prince Charles, smart cars and dental floss have in common? Read Polly Horvath’s adventure about a young girl trying to save her kidnapped parents and find out!

— Kristi Elle Jemtegaard

For younger readers

And Then It’s Spring” by Julie Fogliano

Ages 4-7. $16.99.

As spring slowly approaches, the world turns from “a hopeful, very possible sort of brown” to a “greenish hum,” seeds begin to sprout, animals awake and a new season is born.

— K.E.J.

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey” by Mini Grey

Ages 5-8. $16.99.

When Traction Man and his loyal sidekick, Scrubbing Brush, are washed out to sea, it’s Beach-Time Brenda and the Dollies to the rescue in this ad­ven­ture, which ends with a sand castle, a “pinkly paisley inflatable dinghy” and a whole lot of laughs.

— K.E.J.

Sleep Like a Tiger” by Mary Logue

Ages 4-8. $16.99.

Grab this book at the end of a busy day: Curl up like a dog, fold your wings like a bat, make a cozy den like a bear and follow the strong tiger into the beautiful world of dreams.

— K.E.J.