The best picture books destined to be classics but still flying under the radar

Lisa Cinar Author Of Monster Problems
By Lisa Cinar

Who am I?

I am an author, illustrator, and designer who has always been passionate about books, and especially picture books. As a child I loved to look at the pictures, listen to my mom read them out loud to me, and dream about them. Today I am making my own! Knowing that now it’s my books that kids are reading, gives me a true sense of purpose and joy. A few of the things I care about (other than books) are spending time in nature with my cute senior dog, learning new things, riding my bike, neurodiversity, climate advocacy, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving.


I wrote...

Monster Problems

By Lisa Cinar,

Book cover of Monster Problems

What is my book about?

Packed with monsters and superheroes, this joyfully illustrated book encourages you to kick bad thoughts in the butt and reminds you that you are always awesome, no matter what anyone tries to tell you!

A super-smart but most of all super-fun read about overcoming negative thinking patterns, building self-esteem, and empowering yourself and others with positive self-talk.

The books I picked & why

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Noodlephant

By Jacob Kramer, K-Fai Steele (illustrator),

Book cover of Noodlephant

Why this book?

I love picture books that aren’t cookie-cutters and break rules! This one checks all the boxes! It has 80 pages which is pretty much unheard of in picture publishing because most publishers still seem to think that for some reason kids only have the attention span of 24-32 pages. The story manages to be incredibly meaningful and current, political, socially aware, and about pasta all at once, and the illustrations capture a spontaneity and silliness that I adore! You’ll be left wanting to be more politically active and hungry for pasta—what’s not to like?! 

Noodlephant

By Jacob Kramer, K-Fai Steele (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Noodlephant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I love Noodlephant-brilliant & necessary, and the parable we need now." -Dave Eggers, Best-Selling Author, Editor, Publisher, and Co-Founder of 826 National

Famous for her pasta parties, Noodlephant is shocked when the law-loving kangaroos decide noodles are only for them!

Noodlephant won't let this stand-Noodlephants can't survive on sticks and branches, after all. Determined to do something to push back against an unjust law, she and her friends invent a machine that transforms pens into penne, pillows into ravioli, and radiators into radiatori. With that, the pasta parties are back! But that very night, the kangaroos come bounding through the…


Little Bird

By Germano Zullo, Albertine (illustrator),

Book cover of Little Bird

Why this book?

I used to read this book in my class on picture books that I taught for seven years at Emily Carr University of Art & Design and my students always enjoyed it just as much as I have. It always leaves you inspired! This writer & illustrator husband and wife team are incredible and so is this book. The artwork is exquisite and so are the words. Everything is sparse, careful chosen, and yet incredibly rich. A visual narrative of a little bird getting discovered in the truck of a man gets turned into a much more meaningful and universal story with the accompaniment of the poem-like-text. Like the book itself says “The small things are treasures. True treasures.” - And so is this book! 

Little Bird

By Germano Zullo, Albertine (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A man drives his truck up to a cliff's edge. Unable to go any further, he opens the back door of his truck and a flock of birds flies out, but, as the man soon discovers, a small timid bird remains. Surprised and delighted, the man acts kindly towards the bird and an intimacy develops. After lunch, the man tries to show the bird that he should fly off and join his friends. The man's comic attempt at flight deepens the encounter between these two very different creatures. Soon the bird flies off and the man drives away, but in…


Little Tiger, Get Well Soon

By Janosch,

Book cover of Little Tiger, Get Well Soon

Why this book?

I wanted to introduce a book and author who is very famous in Germany but practically unheard of here in North America. This one was one of my favourites when I was a little kid. In Little Tiger, Get Well Soon, Tiger is not feeling well and Bear takes care of him. When Bear brings Tiger to the hospital, it turns out one of the tiger's stripes has gotten dislocated and needs to be adjusted. A touching and hilarious story about two friends who are always there for each other but also about how going to the hospital doesn’t have to be scary at all! 

Little Tiger, Get Well Soon

By Janosch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Tiger, Get Well Soon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Wonder Bear

By Tao Nyeu,

Book cover of Wonder Bear

Why this book?

I love wordless picture books and this one is very special! The artwork is incredibly beautiful and was silk-screened using water-based inks resulting in the most luscious colour. Two kids plant a seed; a giant magical flower tree grows with a magical bear on top who takes them on an enchanted journey full of flying monkeys, bubbles, flowers, dolphins, seals, and more. Don’t miss out and join them in this dream of a book!  

Wonder Bear

By Tao Nyeu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wonder Bear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two kids plant mysterious seeds (all that?s pictured on the envelope is a blue top hat), and up grows a remarkable flowering vine, out of which emerges an even more remarkable big white bear. On his head is the top hat?a hat that allows him to work all kinds of magic that day. He pulls monkey after monkey from the hat, blows bubbles in amazing shapes, and transforms flowers into spectacular floating sea creatures.

The two kids are wide-eyed with wonder, and you will be too. This is a dazzling debut?a vibrant, welcoming, strikingly original picture book.


On a Magical Do-Nothing Day

By Beatrice Alemagna,

Book cover of On a Magical Do-Nothing Day

Why this book?

A girl is bored at the cabin playing video games. Her mom asks her to go outside instead and soon the girl starts to discover the forest and all its magnificent creatures… suddenly she has forgotten all about her video game and starts to look at her whole world differently! The earth-coloured palette, combined with the neon orange of the girl’s coat will draw you in right away and once you’re in, you are the girl and are discovering everything being alive in the most intimate way. Each page is a gorgeous artwork in itself but together they form a masterpiece of a book! 

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day

By Beatrice Alemagna,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked On a Magical Do-Nothing Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A compelling, magical picture book with whimsical, stunning art and heartfelt, charming text, from award-winning illustrator Beatrice Alemagna. "Hands down, Beatrice Alemagna is my favorite contemporary illustrator," said the Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street, Christian Robinson. All I want to do on a rainy day like today is play my game. My mom says it's a waste of time, but without my game, nothing is fun! On the other hand, maybe I'm wrong about that...While reading On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, one gets the sense that the illustrator became lost in her drawings, and as a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in bears, Germany, and imagination?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about bears, Germany, and imagination.

Bears Explore 52 books about bears
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Frederick, The Rabbit Listened, and When Green Becomes Tomatoes if you like this list.