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Fun Finds: Best of 2011

Our picks for this year's best books.
 

Learning Benefits

1. Lost & Found: Three by Shaun Tan

A poetic treasure of three previously published short stories. Text is spare; art is captivating; both are unforgettable.

Scholastic, $22. Ages 10 and up.

 

2. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson

Sixth-grader Rafe Khatchadorian plans to systematically break every rule in the Hills Village Middle School Code of Conduct. Author Patterson captures the tween stage with insight and humor.

Little, Brown, $16. Ages 10 and up.

 

3. Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The wonderful Peter H. Reynolds has his hand all over this minimalist charmer. His exuberant drawings, along with Rosenthal’s spare rhyming text, have a playful yet powerful effect.

HarperCollins, $15. Ages 4 to 8.

 

4. Precious Little  by Julie Hunt and Sue Moss

From its glittery cover to its mind-bending, acrobatic pages, this circus tale delivers pure enchantment.

Trafalgar Square, $17. Ages 3 and up.

 

5. Frangoline and the Midnight Dream
by Clemency Pearce

Fearless Frangoline escapes into the night despite Moon’s warnings. What will get this naughty girl back to bed? Rebecca Elliott’s artwork is hauntingly glorious.

Scholastic, $17. Ages 3 and up.

 

6. The Grand Plan to Fix Everything
by Uma Krishnaswami

When Dini, an 11-year-old Bollywood-smitten girl, learns her family is moving to India, she and her best friend must alter their plans to delightful effect.

Simon & Schuster, $17. Ages 8 to 12.

 

7. Buglette the Messy Sleeper by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Buglette is one tidy and darling little ladybug, but her noisy sleeping threatens to attract a crow. The solution lies in Buglette’s big dreams.

Random House, $16. Ages 3 to 7.

 

8. Me . . . Jane  by Patrick McDonnell

This artfully illustrated story follows the childhood of naturalist Jane Goodall. Includes a message from Goodall herself.

Little, Brown, $16. All ages.

 

9. Clink  by Kelly DiPucchio and Matthew Myers

State-of-the-art in 1939, Clink now feels like a clunker. He can’t compete with the fancy robots in the store—until he catches the ear of a young boy.

HarperCollins, $17. Ages 4 to 7.

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