The Best Children’s Books of 2022

“A Is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation,” by Ellen Heck 

Rather than follow the Anglocentric pattern of apple, ball and cat, this multilingual alphabet book looks across a wide variety of languages to create a new abecedarium. 

“Book of Questions,” by Pablo Neruda. Illustrated by Paloma Valdivia. Translated by Sara Lissa Paulson. 

Gorgeous, dreamlike illustrations add dimension to 70 of the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s 320 questions, presented in picture-book form for the first time. 

“Elephant Island,” by Leo Timmers. Translated by James Brown. 

After swimming for his life, an elephant whose boat has sunk reaches a rock barely big enough to stand on. As small animals in small vessels arrive one by one to “rescue” him, hilarity ensues. 

“Emile and the Field,” by Kevin Young. Illustrated by Chioma Ebinama. 

From its exquisite endpapers, awash with wildflowers, and its sublime first words, this book about the profound love between a boy and a field captivates. 

“Frances in the Country,” by Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. 

Spirited poetry and rough-and-tumble painted-collage art vividly depict a city girl’s perspective on country life. 

“One Boy Watching,” by Grant Snider 

A post-dawn school bus ride along country roads is rendered in neon colored pencil to reflect the vibrancy of what a boy can see by watching, counting and daydreaming. 

“Our Fort,” by Marie Dorléans. Translated by Alyson Waters. 

Illustrations reminiscent of Japanese woodcuts tell the story of three friends on their way to the fort they’ve built in the woods when a gale lifts them off their feet. 

“Patchwork,” by Matt de la Peña. Illustrated by Corinna Luyken. 

The spongework that overlays these portraits of children elucidates the author’s liberating theme: We are not indelibly drawn at birth; our identities shift, blend and bloom. 

“The Summer of Diving,” by Sara Stridsberg. Illustrated by Sara Lundberg. Translated by B. J. Woodstein. 

In this child’s-eye view of a father’s depression, evocative language and lush, color-saturated art show how a girl’s imagination helps her swim through loss and heal. 

“The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” retold by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen.

The troll is as hungry for language as he is for goats, and the soft pink, brown and gray pictures feel born of the oldest soil, in this wry retelling of the Norwegian folk tale. 

“Two Dogs,” by Ian Falconer 

The creator of “Olivia” displays his theatrical talent in this delightful tour de force about twin dachshunds who escape outside when their humans leave them alone.