The Wildest Children’s Books of 2012
If you are in fear of children’s literature becoming too tame, too P.C., too middle-of-the-road – fear not! There are still plenty of odd, unusual, and just plain wild books for kids. Let’s take a look at five of the most “What the – ?!” inducing books of 2012. I enjoyed each and every one.
The Onion’s Great Escape by Sara Fanelli
A technicolor mixed media affair where the main character gets a hand from the reader to escape the “The Big Fry”. The above video gives you a good idea of the book.
Why it’s Wild: Part art piece, part picture book, The Onion’s Great Escape is most notable because it features an actual onion escape – it pops right out of the book.
Bear Despair by Gaëtan Dorémus
Bear has his purple teddy bear stolen in the night. Rather than help, the other animals play keep-away with Bear’s prized possession and pay the price. If you were on Team Bear after reading I Want My Hat Back, this one’s for you.
Why it’s Wild: This French import harkens back to the days of children’s literature when characters got eaten if they didn’t act right – and it wasn’t a big deal.
Leo Geo by Jon Chad
A factual, fantastic visual journey to the center of the earth and back.
Why it’s Wild: Leo Geo is wonderfully bold in design. The long, skinny trim size of the book mimics the tunnel Leo takes into the depths.
Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
An author and illustrator fight over the direction of their picture book – while the book is in progress. As a bonus, it also features one of the wildest book trailers of the year (see above).
Why it’s Wild: This book is groundbreakingly meta. It may mark the first time an author tries to fill in for the illustrator during the book. It doesn’t work out well.
Benny’s Brigade by Arthur Bradford, illustrated by Lisa Hanawalt
Two sisters come across a wiggling nut in the forest – what could be inside? A miniature walrus named Benny, of course.
Why it’s Wild: Apart from the delightfully hallucinogenic story, it sports some of the most bravely accurate (for a kids book) depictions of slugs in recent memory.
Any other 2012 oddballs for the cause?
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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