Best children's books of 2012

Snails, yawny babies, greedy girls, little foxes and wilful princesses - we pick our favourite stories of the year

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  • 6months+: Pat the Zoo

    Young babies will love Pat the Zoo, a charming, new touch-and-feel title featuring the loveable Pat the Bunny. From stroking the soft fur on the panda's tummy to feeling the wrinkly skin of the elephant, little ones are encouraged to interact with the contemporary, stylish illustrations of zoo animals. Fans of Pat the Bunny will love this book and if your child hasn't yet discovered the lovable bunny, then they will soon be converted.

    Pat the Zoo is published by Golden Books, £9.55

  • 9 months+: Slow Snail

    Little fingers will love Mary Murphy’s Slow Snail, a truly lovely tale of a snail as he tries to get home for dinner. Unlike some first books, the story and the design are both lovely.  Touch-and-feel elements, like a shiny snail trail, encourage tots to explore the story and to see where Snail’s journey takes her next!

    Slow Snail Published by BabyWalker, £4.99

  • 0+: Yawn

    Yawn by Sally Symes is a superb picture book accompanied by clever, rhyming text. Illustrated by the brilliant Nick Sharratt, Yawn invites your child to peep through the holes as a yawn passes from Baby Sean to Cat, to Bird and so on. And maybe the infectious “yawn” might just encourage your little one to head for bed.

    Yawn is published by Walker, £4.99

  • 18 months+: Daddy’s Little Star

    Little Fox enjoys spending the day with his daddy and asks him lots of questions. He wants to know all about the sky - where it begins and where it ends. Daddy of course does his best to explain and tells him the sky is, “Just like love… It goes on forever and ever…” A beautiful, feel-good story with gorgeous, cuddly illustrations. This book is perfect for bedtime and will encourage Dads to read with their tots too.

    Daddy’s Little Star is published by Scholastic, £6.99

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  • Age 0-2: The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Sound Book

    This Eric Carle classic is given a refreshing new look in the The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Sound Book. Young children will love this wonderfully interactive interpretation of the story where they can count all the things the caterpillar eats, and hear him walking and eating too. What's more, the sounds are calm and delicate making it a good bedtime read.

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Sound Book is published by Puffin, £7.99.

  • Age 2+: Busy Little Airport

    Busy Little Airport is a great, interactive book that's a perfect if you are getting ready to go on holiday, for during a flight or if you're stuck at the airport. Packed with bright illustrations, lift-up flaps, questions and ideas this is an entertaining and enganging book. Passenger Pete gives your toddler a guided tour of the airport, introduces you to who works there and describes what they do.

    Busy Little Airport is published by Ladybird, £6.99

  • 2+: I Want a Boyfriend

    In I Want a Boyfriend the mischievous Little Princess, whose regular slot on Channel 5’s Milkshake morning show is a proving big hit, has the whole court looking for a male friend for her. Donald is finally declared a suitable suitor and becomes the Royal Boyfriend. But the Little Princess soon finds out that boyfriends aren't nearly as fun as she thinks! This new story by Tony Ross shows off the devilish princess in all her hilarious glory.

    I Want a Boyfriend is Published by Andersen Press, £10.99

  • 2+: Ready Steady Ghost

    Bertie is a little ghost with dreams of being as spooky as all the other ghosts in the forest but he is just too scared! Perfect for snuggling up before bedtime this gentle, reassuring story tells the tale of a delightful hero, who shows that we can all face our fears and fit in.

    Ready Steady Ghost is published by Oxford University Press, £5.99

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  • Age 2+: The Singing Mermaid

    A must-buy book by the multi-award-winning team of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, The Singing Mermaid is a fantastic tale about a mermaid who leaves home to join the circus. Donaldson's signature llyrical, rhyming text describes how the mermaid's life is not as glamorous as she imagined and how she soon finds herself desperate to get back to her undersea home. Brilliantly illustrated and wonderfully charming!

    The Singing Mermaid is published by Macmillan, £10.99

  • 3+: Boris Starts School

    Boris Starts School by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes is a gentle tale about the complex subjects of friendship and fitting in. Boris is desperate to make friends when he starts in Miss Cluck’s class and his fellow pupils are excited about a bear starting school. But Boris is big and grizzly and no matter what he does, he just ends up scaring his classmates. Boris comes out on top though when one day Leticia, Maxwell and Fergus come face to face with some nasty rats and they find that having a big, hairy bear for a friend isn’t so bad afterall.

    Boris Starts School is published by Oxford University Press, £5.99

  • 3+: The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit

    The first Peter Rabbit story to be commissioned since 1930, The Further Tales of Peter Rabbit sees Peter travelling beyond Mr McGregor’s garden and to Scotland, where he meets a gentle giant. Written as part of the celebrations to honour Beatrix Potter and her contribution to children’s literature, the author of this book is Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson. Like the original stories this is a gentle, feel-good tale accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Ellie Taylor. A great gift.

    The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit is published by Frederick Warne, £12.99

  • 3+: Me and My Cat

    Me and My Cat is a charming story about a very special friendship between a girl and her cat. The pair go everywhere together and do everything together - from playing games to eating dinner. Illustrated with brightly coloured, cute drawings this debut from Ekaterina Trukhan is a based on her own cat Morris and makes a pefect bedtime read. Any child with a cat would love this book.

    Me and My Cat is published by Macmillan Children’s Books, £10.99

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  • Age 3+: Christopher’s Caterpillars

    Charlotte Middleton’s gorgeous, gardening guinea pig, Christopher, and his friend Posie are forced to become detectives after the disappearance of their pets - six hairy caterpillars. Desperate to find them, they make 'missing' posters and put them up all over Dandeville! The second in the series, this a gentle, environmentally-sensitive tale set in a wonderful world where guinea pigs drink cappuccino, play football, and visit art galleries.

    Christopher’s Caterpillars is published by Oxford University Press, £5.99

  • Age 3-4+: Nora: The Girl Who Ate and Ate

    A fabulously funny book about Nora Fatima Buffet, a greedy-guts who gets her comeuppance when her appetite gets out of control and she eats the contents of her own room! This hilarious, cautionary tale marries the revolting, rhyming text of Andrew Weale with the brilliant illustrations of Ben Cort, the multi-award winning artist of Aliens Love Underpants

    Nora is published by Anderson Press, £5.99

  • Age 3-5: Sophie’s Ballet Show

    Girls who love ballet will love Sophie’s Ballet Show, a gorgeous, girly story about Sophie’s first ever dancing lesson. Sophie can't wait to be a ballerina and is overjoyed when she joins Miss Darcy's ballet class and she becomes the star of the show. With illustrated dance steps on each page, and a lovely pop-up finale, Rosalinda Knightly's book will appeal to budding ballerinas everywhere.

    Sophie’s Ballet Show is published by Scholastic, £9.99

  • 4+: The Usborne Big Doodling Book

    Great for rainy days, or long car journeys, the Usborne Big Doodling Book will keep your children entertained for hours. With 95 pages of lovely illustrations, which allow you to colour, join the dots and create your own designs, pre-schoolers will become fans of this busy book. What's more, it will help them improve their drawing skills too.

    The Usborne Big Doodling Book is published by Usborne, £7.99

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  • 4+ The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas

    A silly but appealing book written by two members of pop band McFly, Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter.  Danny is a very greedy boy who asks Father Christmas for too many presents but, when Father Christmas decides enough is enough, receives a huge, messy, smelly dinosaur instead. A good bet if your child liked Aliens in Underpants or The Story of the Little Mole.

    The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas is published by Random House Children’s Book, £6.99

  • 5+: Goldilocks

    A lovely twist on the timeless story of Goldilocks by the writer Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by his daughter Jessica Ahlberg. Goldilocks sets out on her adventure in search of porridge and meets the three bears, then thirty-three bears, a strange-talking Blim and even three little pigs. Lift the flaps and pull the tabs to join Goldilocks in a wonderful variation on the classic tale.

    Goldilocks is published by Walker Books, £12.99

  • 5+: London for Children

    A lovely book about the capital, which teaches children about the history and geography of London by taking them on a journey down the River Thames. Open the book one way for a trip down the North Bank and then flip over for an adventure along the South Bank. Find out all about the Romans, bloody battles and the “great stink”. Written and illustrated by Matteo Pericoli, London for Children is a fascinating, fact-filled book about our great city.

    London for Children is published by Macmillan, £14.99

  • 5-6+: The Wrong Pong: Singin’ in the Drain

    Steven Butler’s The Wrong Pong: Singin’ in the Drain is the fourth in this series of books about the twisted world of a family of trolls. Big sister Rubella is trying to get a part in the local production of “Whingeralla” and squeezes herself into a ballet tutu and tights, desperate for the starring role. Great for sharing or for the more confident readers who are starting to read independently. The story is accompanied by hilarious gruesome illustrations that will delight kids (and disgust parents).

    The Wrong Pong: Singin’ in the Drain is published by Puffin Picture Paperbacks, £5.99


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