Our Favorite Children’s Books of 2012

The year’s best aviation- and space-themed books for young readers

(Random House)

Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind

(Candlewick Press)

By Gary Ross, illustrated by Matthew Myers. 
Candlewick Press, 2012. 96 pp., $17.99 
Ten-year-old Bartholomew makes the most of “the granddaddy of winds” by grabbing a bedsheet and jumping out his bedroom window. Using his sheet as a combination parachute/glider, Bartholomew spends time with some pirates (“They were snarling and sneering / and laughing and grinning. / One had a parrot, / and that’s just the beginning”), then rides the air currents to a land of “gray, blueish haze," where everyone follows the rules. He makes a friend — Densmore Horatio Pool — but the boy is afraid to break the rules, and Bart sails on alone. His bedsheet now tattered, Bart descends into a canyon peopled with lost aviators — including a woman named Amelia. Will they ever escape? Perhaps all it takes to succeed is a little self-confidence and some friends. Ross’s (director of The Hunger Games) engaging debut is one to note. Ages 6-10.

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