Compiling our best-books-of-the-year lists is a process that is both exciting and heartbreaking. Exciting, because I get to steep myself in the year's great books, and heartbreaking, because I have to pick favorites. After considerable solitary soul-searching and spirited back-and-forth with our corps of reviewers, I am pleased to present our Best Books for Children. Here you will find books that will thrill, tickle, stimulate, soothe and enlighten kids from the very youngest to early teens. There are heartfelt explorations of the natural world and loving celebrations of the closeness of family, ruminative picture books and adventures to get the blood pounding. And three, count them, three novels featuring talking mice.