The best children’s books on extraordinary animals

Isabella Kung Author Of No Fuzzball!
By Isabella Kung

The Books I Picked & Why

They All Saw a Cat

By Brendan Wenzel

Book cover of They All Saw a Cat

Why this book?

This book is brilliantly and creatively illustrated, featuring a black cat (which I have a soft spot for) from the point of view of a boy, a dog, a mouse, a bee, a bird, a snake, and more! This seemly simple concept not only scientifically showcases the difference in each animal's capabilities of vision and sense perception, but it also demonstrates that things can be perceived very differently depending on the perspective of the viewer. It’s has a really lovely and subtle message for young children while introducing them to the extraordinary word of zoology in a fun and creative way. A great book for children and adults alike.

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Pokko and the Drum

By Matthew Forsythe

Book cover of Pokko and the Drum

Why this book?

I knew I would love this book from the moment I saw the cover. It’s a charming, hilarious, and slightly dark tale about this little frog named Pokko as she marches to the beat of her own drum – a drum that her parents gifted her and quickly deemed it to be their biggest mistake! This extraordinary determined little frog proceeded to walk alone through the forest, face down a hungry wolf, and lead a large marching band! From beginning to the end, I enjoyed the story, the humor, and the pacing. The illustrations are dazzlingly gorgeous and make me feel like I’m enjoying a modern-day folk tale!

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The Three Pigs

By David Wiesner

Book cover of The Three Pigs

Why this book?

This book takes classical nursery rhymes and turns them on its head! The three extraordinary pigs were able to escape the big bad wolf into the white meta-landscape of the book where they enjoyed an adventure through other stories, saving another classical fairytale victim and bringing it home, along with a cat. They were able to take matters into their own hand, despite the narration. Towards the end, one of the pigs even rearranged the text to spell out a much improved happy ending! I love the play with text and illustration that enriches the storytelling experience, and also the shifting illustration styles were used as a meta-way to express different dimensions. As a long-time fan of David Wiesner, I am continuously amazed by his ability to reinvent the wheel, it’s no wonder why this book has won a Caldecott Medal!

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This Way, Charlie

By Carson Levis, Charles Santoso

Book cover of This Way, Charlie

Why this book?

This Way, Charlie is a beautiful book based on the true story of an unlikely friendship between a partially blind horse and a very grumpy and stubborn goat at a wildlife rehabilitation farm. The gentle text tells their story and shows how a little help from a friend can help overcome all kinds of obstacles, physical or mental. The illustrations are beautifully designed and executed in a soft impressionistic way that is almost dreamlike. Resulting in a heartwarming book that celebrates the kindness, compassion, trust, and strength of a friendship.

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The Honeybee

By Kirsten Hall, Isabelle Arsenault

Book cover of The Honeybee

Why this book?

I have found no other picture book as fun to read, access, and as beautifully illustrated as The Honeybee. The book takes us through the seasons and highlights the life and responsibilities of a black and yellow striped, smiling, buzzing, zooming, dancing honeybees. The rhythmic pattern of text and well-crafted vocabulary is delightful to read aloud, yet simple enough for little ones to follow along. The illustrations are exquisite with pops of neon yellow ink scattered throughout the book, calling attention to the pollen being collected and then turn into honey. This book is a wonderful celebration of the extraordinary honeybees!

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