©2019 by Clare Lund, Librarian on the Loose. All views are my own. I receive no compensation for reviews.

Picture Books

Picture books are so versatile -- the simple stories and illustrations are perfect for engaging

the youngest of children, but also teach lessons that are valuable for older kids and adults to discuss.


Extra Yarn

by Mac Barnett

I love everything from the Barnett / Klassen collaboration, so I had a really hard time choosing one of their books to include. This is the story of Annabelle, a young girl who transforms her community by knitting everyone gifts from a magical, never-ending box of yarn. It's funny and sweet and adorably quirky.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

by Mac Barnett

Okay, so it turns out I couldn't choose just one. The is my son's favorite, and so fun to read out loud. Sam and Dave set out on an adventure and start digging a hole to find "something spectacular." The ending has prompted some lengthy debates in our home!

If you like their brand of humor, check out: Triangle, Square,

Circle (coming soon!), I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat

Rosie Revere, Engineer

by Andrea Beaty

Young Rosie may be quiet, but she's also an aspiring inventor who learns to never give up. I love the positive message of turning a failure into an opportunity to learn and improve.

If you like this one, be sure to also read Ada Twist, Scientist and Iggy Peck, Architect -- stories about two of Rosie's other classmates.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger leads a civilized life, dressing in a suit every day and exchanging pleasantries with his neighbors. But he is growing tired of always having to be so proper. One day he decides to go wild, and some feel that he takes it too far. This hilarious book has a great message about being yourself and makes for a very fun read aloud.

Maybe Something Beautiful

by F. Isabel Campoy

Young Mira and her neighbors soon discover the power of color. Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, this delightful book reveals how art can inspire transformation and bring a community together. Sometimes one small act can have a lasting impact.

Wolf in the Snow

by Matthew Cordell

This wordless picture book quickly became my daughter's favorite after bringing it home from the library, and we read it no less than 17 times in two weeks. With each reading, I noticed a new detail that made me love it even more, and I was so excited when I heard it had won the Caldecott! A beautiful and simple story of kindness repaid.

Jabari Jumps

by Gaia Cornwall

This book took me back to MY childhood memories of jumping off the diving board, and is a sweet and inspiring story about facing your fears. We can all relate to that moment right before taking a giant leap, whether literal or metaphorical. I love Jabari's determination and his dad's patience and encouragement - such a beautiful moment to capture.


by Matt de la Peña

This book beautifully depicts the many ways we experience the universal bond of love, and gave me goosebumps the first time I read it. With a lyrical text and powerful illustrations, this tender tale is a needed comfort that will resonate with readers of every age.

Another incredible book by Matt de la Peña: Last Stop on Market Street, winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal.

Wolfie the Bunny

by Ame Dyckman

This hilarious story is about a rabbit family who adopts a baby wolf. Dot, the older bunny sister, is convinced Wolfie is going to "eat them all up"... but no one will listen to her. A sweet ending teaches that stereotypes often turn out to be false. Perfect book for an older sibling, especially if they are unsure about the new baby!

Also funny, also by Ame Dyckman: You Don't Want a Unicorn

Drum Dream Girl

by Margarita Engle

With vivid illustrations and melodic prose, this book is a real treasure. Inspired by Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's taboo against female drummers, this is a story about questioning the status quo. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous, and the ending holds an encouraging message for dreamers everywhere.

The Night Gardener

by Eric & Terry Fan

One day, William discovers that the tree outside his house has been sculpted into an owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear - but where did they come from? His gray little town will never be the same. (This magical book inspired a visit to The Green Animals Topiary Garden in Rhode Island when we were on the East Coast!)

Chu's Day

by Neil Gaiman

"When Chu sneezed, bad things happened." Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite adult authors, and his strange sense of humor really comes to life in this hilarious picture book with Adam Rex's detailed illustrations. If you like this one, there's also Chu's First Day of School or Chu's Day at the Beach.

Little Fox in the Forest

by Stephanie Graegin

Here is another wordless picture book that became a fast favorite at my house. This adorable story as it follows a young girl whose favorite stuffed fox has been stolen... by an actual fox. Her quest to get her beloved toy back leads her to a enchanting animal village in the woods and an unexpected discovery about generosity.

Red: A Crayon's Story
by Michael Hall

"He was red... but he wasn't very good at it." What happens when you aren't who society thinks you were meant to be? This story works on so many level and teaches readers to be accepting and open-minded to those who are different.

I also adore My Heart Is Like a Zoo, Perfect Circle, and It's an Orange Aardvark! by the same author.

Here We Are

by Oliver Jeffers

Written as a letter to his newborn son, this book is full of sweet and simple explanations of complex concepts, such as outer space, the human body, or our planet's terrain. Beautiful statements about humanity are revealed through humor and poignancy. Incredible message and heartwarming wishes for future generations.

Shark Lady

by Jess Keating

I really enjoyed this true story of girl power, and Jess Keating does a great job of making science accessible to young kids. The book is about Eugenie Clark, who fell in love with sharks from the moment she first went to an aquarium. But she quickly discovered that most people believed sharks were ugly and scary, and they didn't think women should be scientists. Nevertheless, she persisted!

Families, Families, Families!

by Suzanne Lang

This beautiful story is all about inclusivity, and ensures that every child will see their own family situation represented on the pages. The wide range of cartoon animals and easy rhymes will appeal even to the youngest of children. Because after all, "if you love each other, you are a family." (Now excuse me while I go get my Kleenex...)

Not A Box

by Antoinette Portis

With minimal text, Not a Box is all about the magic of a child's imagination. This book is a celebration of discovering extraordinary in the ordinary, and takes all of us back to a time when life was simple and all we needed to have an adventure was an empty box.


by Peter H. Reynolds

Ramon loves to draw. At least, he did... until one day his older brother made fun of his pictures. Ramon decides to end his art career, but then he finds out that his work has been secretly inspiring someone else. A beautiful story about finding support in unexpected places. I love everything by Peter Reynolds, but this is my favorite.

Be sure to read his other books: The North Star, The Word Collector, and The Dot (which inspired International Dot Day).

The Ok Book

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

"The world is just full of things to do. And it's fun to give them all a go. But what if you're not good at everything you try? What if you're just OK? What then?" This book is full of simple and reassuring lessons about not giving up, and teaches that we can still enjoy our hobbies and actives, even if we're not naturally gifted.

My other favorite Amy Krouse Rosenthal books include: Spoon, Chopsticks, Little Pea, Duck! Rabbit!, and I Wish You More.

Dragons Love Tacos

by Adam Rubin

This laugh-out-loud book talks directly to the reader, giving advice about how to become friends with dragons. The secret: tacos! But be sure to avoid any spicy salsa, or you're in for a real disaster. This one is so fun for storytime, and there's a sequel if you're a fan!

After the Fall

by Dan Santat

Everyone knows about Humpty Dumpty's great fall... but what happened next? After "the incident," he develops a crippling fear of heights and needs to figure out ways to cope so he can start to feel like himself again. So clever, so heartwarming, so necessary.

I also LOVE The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat.

My Pet Book

by Bob Staake

We own a lot of Bob Staake's books at my house, but this is my personal favorite. A little boy decides that a book would make a perfect pet... but what happens when it goes missing??

Where would a pet book hide?

My kids have also read Hello Robots, The Donut Chef, and The Red Lemon a million times each. Bluebird is a wordless picture book that addresses more complex themes - perfect for older readers.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster

by Mo Willems

Mo Willems is known for his hilarious Pigeon series and Elephant & Piggie books, but Leonardo and Sam's story really tugged at my heartstrings (in addition to making me laugh). Beautiful lesson about empathy as Leonardo decides whether to be a terrible monster or a wonderful friend. There's also a sequel from Sam's point-of-view!