The 10 books whose images are displayed here are the winners of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Awards for 2013.

Since 1952, the Book Review has convened an independent panel of judges to select picture books on the basis of artistic merit. Each year, judges choose from among thousands of picture books for what is the only annual award of its kind.

 

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“My Brother’s Book,” written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

Fifty years after Where the Wild Things Are was published comes the last book Maurice Sendak completed before his death in May 2012, My Brother’s Book. With influences from Shakespeare and William Blake, Sendak pays homage to his late brother, Jack, whom he credited for his passion for writing and drawing. Pairing Sendak’s poignant poetry with his exquisite and dramatic artwork, this book redefines what mature readers expect from Maurice Sendak while continuing the lasting legacy he created over his long, illustrious career. Sendak’s tribute to his brother is an expression of both grief and love and will resonate with his lifelong fans who may have read his children’s books and will be ecstatic to discover something for them now. Pulitzer Prize–winning literary critic and Shakespearean scholar Stephen Greenblatt contributes a moving introduction.

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“Ballad,” written and illustrated by Blexbolex

Ballad is a story, and like all great stories it deepens with each retelling.
Ballad builds over seven sequences. The first has three images: school, path, home. The next builds upon the first, giving us: school, street, path, forest, home. The next five sequences take up this story, but with new words and images that nearly double the previous sequence. Here a child encounters the world as he returns home from school, and we see his small world become enormous. This story is as old as the world. It happens every day.
Blexbolex is a bold, highly talented graphic artist. In addition to creating comics, he’s been internationally acclaimed for Seasons, selected as a 2012 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year; and People.

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“Jemmy Button,” written and illustrated by Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali

Exchanged for the single mother-of-pearl button that gave him his nickname, an indigenous Tierra del Fuegan boy named Orundellico spent many years in England in the early 1800s as part of a failed experiment in forced civilization. Less a biography than an attempt to represent this alienating experience from Jemmy’s point of view, it is distinguished by lyrical prose-poetry («Come away with us and taste our language, see the lights of our world,» the British explorers tell Jemmy) and intensely creative and beautifully conceived paintings. On matte pages, Jemmy, a paper-doll figure with red ochre skin and curly black hair, walks naked through throngs of top-hatted and gowned silhouettes, all the same shade of blue. His guardians buy him clothes and take him to concerts, but the paintings show him always set apart from his companions. «Jemmy felt almost at home. Almost, but not quite.» As a snapshot of colonial betrayal, it evokes regret, longing, guilt, and awe–an assortment of feelings that might make the book more attractive to grownups than to children

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“The Dark,” written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Laszlo is afraid of the dark.

The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn’t come into Lazslo’s room. But one night, it does.

This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark.

With emotional insight and poetic economy, two award-winning talents team up to conquer a universal childhood fear.

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“Holland,” written and illustrated by Charlotte Dematons

Holland – a land full of surprises, strange traditions, free-spirited people and a rich history.

Charlotte Dematons, known for her well-loved picture book The Yellow Balloon, grew up in France, but moved to the Netherlands to study art as so many have before her. With the eye of an outsider but a warm heart for the country that became her new home, Charlotte Dematons paints with a keen eye for the detail for everything that makes The Netherlands so Dutch.

It’s easy to see how New York was first New Amsterdam when delving into modern-day Holland. The idiosyncrasies that make Holland so unique are revealed: from pensionada in unisex rain jackets on their bikes to a grandmother with her walker, skating on the ice, between the scenes of Avercamp, Bruegel and Bosch – and of course the multicultural Dutch society revealed and celebrated with wit and warmth

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“Journey,” written and illustrated by Aaron Becker

Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

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«Fog Island,” written and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer

A timeless story about a brother and a sister whose boat drifts onto a doomed and mysterious island

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“Jane, The Fox and Me,” written by Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Hélène has been inexplicably ostracized by the girls who were once her friends. Her school life is full of whispers and lies — Hélène weighs 216; she smells like BO. Her loving mother is too tired to be any help. Fortunately, Hélène has one consolation, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  Hélène identifies strongly with Jane’s tribulations, and when she is lost in the pages of this wonderful book, she is able to ignore her tormentors. But when Hélène is humiliated on a class trip in front of her entire grade, she needs more than a fictional character to allow her to see herself as a person deserving of laughter and friendship.

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“Locomotive,” written and illustrated by Brian Floca

All aboard! From the creator of the “stunning” (Booklist) Moonshot, a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America’s early railroads.

It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean.

Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!

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“Nelson Mandela,” written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

One day when Nelson Mandela was nine years old, his father died and he was sent from his village to a school far away from home, to another part of South Africa. In Johannesburg, the country’s capital, Mandela saw fellow Africans who were poor and powerless. He decided then that he would work to protect them. When the government began to keep people apart based on the color of their skin, Mandela spoke out against the law and vowed to fight hard in order to make his country a place that belonged to all South Africans.

Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy’s determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela’s triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.

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