100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Gallery: New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2012

Okay, I’m ready. It’s the second of November and I’m ready for every Best of 2012 list you got. First up…

Thanks to the fine folks at The Horn Book I learned that one of my favorite lists of the year, the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books, has been announced. I like. It never fails to be a beautiful and, at times, unexpected batch of books. Last year’s list contained three of the four Caldecott winners.

Let’s meet the cast of 2012.

Bear Despair by Gaëtan Dorémus (Enchanted Lion)

The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins (Houghton)

House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser; illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)

The Hueys in the New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)

Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford; illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska (Carolrhoda)

Little Bird by Germano Zullo; illustrated by Albertine (Enchanted Lion)

One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World by Joe McKendry (Godine)

Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop (Tingley/Little)

Stephen and the Beetle by Jorge Luján; illustrated by Chiara Carrer (Groundwood)

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad written and illustrated by Henry Cole (Scholastic)

If you’d have asked me in advance to try to guess the books that would show up on this list, I think I would have fared pretty poorly. Unspoken I would have named. Red Knit Cap Girl maybe. The rest of my picks would not have been correct. How about small publisher Enchanted Lion coming in with two books on the list? I love that one of the Wildest Children’s Books of 2012, Bear Despair, made the cut. Stephen and the Beetle is new to my eyes, as is One Times Square (which looks particularly incredible). You have to like the unexpected pick of Jon Klassen’s House Held Up by Trees over his more talked about Extra Yarn. And it’s nice to see a couple of familiar faces, Steve Jenkins and Oliver Jeffers show up.

What stands out for you?

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 scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Fascinating how many of these are imports and small publishers. Unexpected indeed!

    I’ve got this wee problem with House Held Up By Trees that undoubtedly doesn’t bother anybody else: trees don’t grow up from the bottom, so a house wouldn’t actually be lifted. Much too literal, that’s me.

    Thanks for including inside art. I haven’t seen most of these books, I’m sorry to say.

  2. YAY! Red Knit Cap Girl made the list!! I nominated it for a Cybil and hope that it gets a Caldecott nod!!!

  3. I want all of these books! Thank you for this wonderful listing.

  4. I love the NYT Best Illustrated. The lists always surprise me, usually delight me, and open my eyes to something new.

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