Children of all ages will be enthralled by the penguins, hippos, orangutans, birds, lemurs, architects, and adorable rocks that romp through the pages of this winter's dazzling new crop of books

By Stephan Lee
Updated December 07, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST

Fluff and Billy
Nicola Killen
Competitive kids (especially siblings) will relate to the titular duo of penguins in this charming second picture book from the award-winning British author. The little birds engage in some healthy one-upmanship — ”I’m rolling a snowball!” ”I’m throwing a snowball!” — but of course, this dynamic leads to conflict. The way Fluff and Billy resolve it can teach children valuable lessons without discouraging rough-and-tumble spirits.

From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers
Christine Paxmann; illustrated by Anne Ibelings
For the young builder in your life, this guide to some of the coolest and most exotic buildings in the world will provide endless hours of fascination. Explore the honeycombed towers of Gaudí in Barcelona and the bird’s-nest-inspired Olympic stadium in Beijing.

Matthew Van Fleet
Short of encouraging your toddlers to stick the pages in their mouths, this interactive board book captures the wonder of exploring the world through taste. Each spread invites some form of tactile interaction, from feeling the tongues of different animals — who knew hippos’ were so squishy? — to making a friendly bear lap up some honey.

My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder
Sharon Lovejoy
The cunningly designed kit is a lovely first guide to identifying birds, with a bird feeder that attaches to a window with suction cups.

One Gorilla: A Counting Book
Anthony Browne
What child doesn’t love monkeys? This counting book features lemurs, macaques, orangutans, and other primates. Browne’s gorgeous paintings bring real vibrancy to the animals’ facial expressions and dramatically colored fur. Look out for the clever ending.

A Rock Is Lively
Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long
Rocks typically aren’t as engaging to the little ones as anthropomorphic animals are, but this beautifully illustrated picture book makes geology fun and visually arresting.

Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure
Matthew Reinhart
3-D glasses have nothing on pop-up. The force is strong with Reinhart, who crams as much coming-at-you Jedi, droid, and spaceship action as possible into each insanely elaborate spread. Even adults will have to comb the book several times over to catch all the hidden pop-up-within-a-pop-up goodies from the Star Wars universe.