Art and Max, best picture book of 2010, Caldecott potential winner, David Weisner, Pragmatic Mom, best books of 2010

Top 10 Best Children’s Books: My Kids’ Favorites of 2010

Our Favorite Children’s Books of 2010

Oh, how the year flies by.  My favorite parenting quote from a Mom Friend:  the days are long but the years are short.  I know that I should have posted this around the first of the year, even New Year’s Eve but I am not that together.  But as I look back on the year and think about all the books my kids and I read together, it brings back warm, fuzzy memories of snuggling, laughing, and just enjoying a shared experience that loving the same book brings.  So I asked my kids to each give me their three favorite books from last year and then I added a few more of my own, though I have to say that I loved their picks as much as they did.  I hope you enjoy these books, should you need book recs, as much as we did!

p.s.  I noticed that all the book picks are unisex in appeal.

My Kindergartener Son’s Most Requested Books for Me to Read to Him of 2010

10. A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee

If a little boy could plan his perfect summer, it might be something like the couple of weeks in this story. This book is also hilarious — Marla Frazee has a dry wit that is fun for adults and kids!  [preschool through 1st grade]

9. Math Curse by Jon Scieskza, illustrated by Lane Smith

Imagine waking up and finding out that everything in life is a math problem?!   Hilarious and full of fun everyday math problems.  The next day turns out to be fine, until … science class! [ages 5-9]

Math Curse, Jon Scieszka Lane Smith, picture book that teaches math,, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

8. Pigs Make Me Sneeze (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

We own almost the entire Elephant and Piggie series but my son picked this book as his favorite.  He thinks it is hilarious, especially the part where Piggie wears a crash helmet after being tossed about by Gerald’s big sneezes.  This is also one of the first books he learned to read by himself.  [ages 2-6]

best children's books of 2010 easy reader pragmatic mom

My 3rd Grade Daughter’s Top 3 Picks

These blurbs are from Philip Ardaugh in this previous post,  Top 10: Roald Dahl Books (from Philip Ardaugh)for Roald Dahl Day Today! which is celebrated on September 13th in England.

7. Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a lovely girl. Her parents aren’t. Matilda loves books and reading. Her parents love conning people and watching telly. School, ruled by the evil Miss Trunchbull, whose speciality is swinging children by their hair and throwing them out of the window, isn’t much better. Then Matilda discovers that she has supernatural powers … [chapter book, ages 8-12]

6. The B.F.G. by Roald Dahl

If flatulence, royalty and a giant with disproportionately large ears are what you’re after in a story, this is the book for you. Throw in kidnapped orphan Sophie (snatched and taken to Giant Land) and a trumpet that blows dreams into sleeping children’s rooms, and the result is an extraordinary Dahl-esque/Dali-esque vision. [chapter book, ages 8-12]

5. Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Poaching pheasants from the evil neighbor’s yard, albeit a forest, has never been so much fun.  Danny and his father devise a way to derail the big hunt of the season.  [chapter book, ages 8-12]

Danny the champion of the world, roald dahl, best children's books of 2010, pragmatic mom,

My 5th Grade Daughter’s Top 3 Picks

4. The Pharoah’s Secret by Marissa Moss

Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an Egyptologist, to his homeland of modern Egypt and end up in a time travel adventure involving the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, Hatshepsut, her single, handsome but common born architect Senenmut, a jealous vizier Hapuseneb, and her daughter Neferure.  The mystery of the past that Talibah and Adom must solve leads them to discover their true identity and the truth behind the mysterious death of their mother.  [chapter book:  ages 8 -14]

The Pharaoh's Secret, Marissa Moss, Pragmatic Mom,, Rick Riordan, The Red Pyramid, The Kane Chronicles

3. The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart

My daughter raved about this series and finished the three thick volumes in about a week which is pretty fast for her.  This series is appealing to both boys and girls which is a bonus!

2. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The first book in his new series post Percy Jackson.  The first book of the new series is a great read and I highly recommend it, as does my 5th grade daughter.  (Don’t worry, Percy and Annabeth are in the series).  Roman versus Greek Gods were occupying my mind. Riordan does a great job converging the two sets of seemingly similar deities yet pointing out the differences between the two (who knew?!). [chapter book, ages 8-14]

Percy Jackson, The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan, ancient greece and rome,,, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

My Pick of the Year Reading with My Kids

1. Art and Max by David Wiesner

This book is a contender for a Caldecott and if David Wiesner wins, he will be among a small handful to have won this prestigious award for best artwork three times.  If he wins a fourth time, he sets a world record.  I have to say that Wiesner is probably the most creative mind out there in picture book land.  He brings an interesting, unpredictable-but-captivating twist to all his books which makes them so amazing.  In the case of Art and Max, there are so many layers to the book.  It’s hard to describe exactly how amazingly well done this book is, but on every level — story, illustrations, creativity, characters — it’s outstanding.  I’d be really surprised if he did NOT win. [He didn’t win but it’s such a good book!!!]

Art and Max, best picture book of 2010, Caldecott potential winner, David Weisner, Pragmatic Mom, best books of 2010

Honorable Mentions

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

My daughter is on a Roald Dahl jag and so we’ve read 4 books with several more lined up.  She didn’t like this book as much as the three she listed above, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The characters are quirky.  When George, a young boy, mixes up a crazy batch of “medicine” from everything he can lay his hands on in his house and barn, he feeds it to his cantankerous grandmother.  This causes her to grow so tall, her head sticks out of the house.  Surprisingly, George’s Dad does not freak out but instead wants to make up much more “medicine” to sell.  It turns out to be difficult to duplicate but this has implications for Grandma who gets her just desserts!

George's Marvelous Medicine Roald Dahl best children's book of 2010 Pragmatic Mom, Pragmatic Mom

Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta

I met Kurtis at KidLitCon 2010 and he is lovely but that is not the reason why I chose his book.  My Mom Friend whose son is in a 5th Grade Boys’ Book club read this for one of their meetings.  The boys in her book club vary in reading ability and this book is a typical middle grade novel in that the font is not overly large and the book is 272 pages.  But every boy read the book and loved it, even the reluctant readers.  I borrowed it and read it myself and I’m not the biggest baseball fan in the world and I loved it.
Scaletta has a magical realism twist with weather that is the core of the plot line, and I love this embedded into a middle grade book.  You just don’t see that very often.  There is baseball and unusual weather patterns.  There is an Native American curse and a grudge match that makes the Red Sox vs. Yankees look downright friendly.  This is a great read that might play to boys more than girls, but then they’d be missing out!

Mudville, Kurtis Scaletta, basebook middle grade novel fiction pragmatic mom pragmaticmom best children's book of 2010
To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I love Wiesner’s books and now I really want to find Art and Max soon. In fact all these choices, both yours and the kids, sound great!

    • To Book Chook,
      Thanks so much! I am so impressed with Art and Max … and my six-year-old son loves it too! Wiesner is probably one of the most creative children’s book authors I know that can translate his imagination into illustrations that captivate both kids and adults. He’s so crazy talented! I am shocked he didn’t win the Caldecott for Art and Max. He was robbed!

  2. I got nostalgic reading your list of books for different ages since my only son is now in middle school and we don’t to read “little kids” books together anymore. But he loved Scieskza when he was about your son’s age, and we went through realms of Dahl in 3rd-5th grades. So it was a nice reminder–thanks.

    I also loved Art and Max, and much preferred it over A Sick Day for Amos McGee, at least in terms of the art. But, then, I know I’m not a “spare illustrations in muted tones” (the description by the Caldecott Committee Chair) kind of person. But I think Tuesday still remains my favorite among Wiesner’s books. I’ve actually used that book in a writing class I did for middle schoolers for an exercise in writing text that “shows, not tells.”

    • To Carol,
      I’m glad my list brought back fond memories. I love how books do that. My daughter and I also love Flotsam … there’s something about that book, like Tuesday, that just grabs your imagination and takes it somewhere exotic! What kind of writing exercise did you do with Tuesday? Sounds intriguing!!!

  3. Yes, I love Flotsam as well.

    In the class, they were supposed to describe (using words) the pictures rather than “tell” the story. Like many of us, the whole “show rather than tell” is a weakness in my own writing, so it is a useful thing for even adults to try in order to wean ourselves off “he said she said” or “then this happened, then this happened” writing styles.

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