JUST A SECOND
by Steve Jenkins
A black mamba can slither 24 ft.; a person can blink seven times-so much happens in just one second. Author Jenkins uses examples from the natural world to bring the concept of time alive. (Ages 4 and up)
SECRETS AT SEA
by Richard Peck
Fearful of a crumb-free life once their human hosts head for England, a mouse family stows away in the luggage. Delightful. (8 and up)
WHY WE BROKE UP
by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
Matches, a toy truck, a protractor-each object holds clues to the demise of Min and Ed's teen love. Kalman's lush paintings illustrate this winsome treat from the erstwhile Lemony Snicket. (Young Adult)
THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH: THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
by Norton Juster
Half a century later, Juster's classic about young Milo's fantastic, word-playing travels still captures the imagination. (8 and up)
SWIRL BY SWIRL
by Joyce Sidman
Gorgeous and clever, this poem about spirals is both science lesson and bedtime book; it begins and ends with sleepy creatures curling up to keep warm. (4 and up)
I WANT MY HAT BACK
by Jon Klassen
Four pages into this charmer, every kindergartner will know where the bear's missing hat is-but they'll never predict the hilarious revenge he takes on the thief. (4 and up)
GREAT READS FOR ALL AGES
by Mary Lyn Ray
This ode to everything stars are (part of a wand, a pin that makes you sheriff, a sign you've done well) is paired with incandescent art showing the heavenly shapes in ivy, snowflakes and in your pocket-for wishing on. (2 and up)
THE SCORPIO RACES
by Maggie Stiefvater
Tourists descend on Kate Connolly's island home each year to watch the locals race killer water horses. This year Kate bucks the boys-only rule and enters, hoping to win and save her home from foreclosure. Tense, atmospheric, and utterly original. (13 and up)
by Lita Judge
What's a bear to do when he finds a sled left outside a cozy cabin? Borrow it, of course, and embark on an evening of wild rides with his forest friends. Just the right blend of danger and delight, this book is perfect for a wintry night. (2 and up)
by Oliver Jeffers
Floyd's kite snags on a tree branch, so he tries solving the problem by throwing everything he has at it-his shoe, a cat, the kitchen sink, a house, a whale ... until, whaddya know, Floyd's kite finally falls free. Perfectly absurd. (3 and up)
HEART AND SOUL
by Kadir Nelson
After noting that "most folks my age and complexion don't speak much about the past," an unnamed narrator delivers a condensed, impassioned soliloquy on African-American history, accompanied by nearly four dozen magnificent oil paintings. It's a tour de force. (9 and up)
MARCEL THE SHELL: THINGS ABOUT ME
First a YouTube sensation, now a kids' book protagonist! Marcel the Shell is a mollusk on the rise, says his co-creator, SNL alum Jenny Slate, 29.
WHY A TALKING SHELL?
One day "I was feeling tiny and started doing this voice," says Slate. Her fiance, Dean Fleischer-Camp, 27, an animator, built Marcel with an eye and shoes. Friends "flipped out" over his debut video.
SECRETS OF HIS SUCCESS?
"He kind of tugs at your heart," says Slate. "Kids seem to like that he's so little."
HE'S SMALL, BUT STURDY
Marcel lives on the couple's mantle in Brooklyn. But if he were on a desert island, he'd need just "a peanut shell for a boat," says Slate, a Twix-"He could live off one for two years"-and a radio. "He loves Carole King."