The best picture books about magical creatures other than dragons and unicorns

Who am I?

When I worked at a children’s bookstore I noticed there were tons of books about dragons and unicorns, but not a lot of picture books about other kinds of mythological creatures. I thought this was strange, especially since Harry Potter was so popular and those books were full of magical creatures. I have always loved pets and mythology, so I thought maybe I could write a primer on magical pet care. I also noticed how much the kids at storytime loved rhyming books, so I put all of these things together and If I Had a Gryphon was born!

I wrote...

If I Had a Gryphon

By Vikki VanSickle, Cale Atkinson (illustrator),

Book cover of If I Had a Gryphon

What is my book about?

Dragons and unicorns get a lot of love in picture books, but what about gryphons and krakens and chupacabras? This delightful picture book imagines what it would be like to take care of 20 magical creatures drawn from mythology and lore from around the world. When a kitten sneezes it’s adorable, but when a dragon sneezes? DISASTER! Kids and adults will love this primer on magical pet care featuring clever rhyming text and hilarious illustrations.

The books I picked & why

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The Mysterious Tadpole

By Steven Kellogg,

Book cover of The Mysterious Tadpole

Why this book?

Tadpoles aren’t known for being very exciting pets…unless they’re from Lock Ness, the most mysterious lake in Scotland! A little gift turns into a big surprise when a family discovers they may be harbouring a baby Loch Ness monster. I love how the family must come up with practical but inventive solutions to house their growing monster, which was an approach I also used with the pet care in If I Had a Gryphon.

The Thing about Yetis

By Vin Vogel,

Book cover of The Thing about Yetis

Why this book?

You’ve never seen a Yeti as cute as the one in Vin Vogel’s charming The Thing About Yetis. Everyone assumes that Yetis love winter and cold weather activities, but what do they do for the rest of the year? Readers will learn all sorts of things they never knew about these mysterious creatures in this cozy read. When deciding between a Yeti, Bigfoot, or a Sasquatch in If I Had a Gryphon I went for the Canadian option (Sasquatch), but I’m so glad to see a great Yeti book!

Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent

By Bill Peet,

Book cover of Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent

Why this book?

I love stories about sea monsters and this was one of my favourites as a kid. It’s hard being Cyrus. Humans are afraid of sea monsters like him, and Shark thinks he’s too cowardly to sink ships. But the kindly sea serpent resists peer pressure and saves the day when he comes to the rescue of a ship in need. A sweet and surprising story about kindness and being true to yourself from a real legend of children’s literature, Bill Peet.


By Shaun Tan,

Book cover of Eric

Why this book?

This quirky, slightly surreal, and thought-provoking story is classic Sean Tan. A family takes in an unusual exchange student named Eric. He is unlike anyone or anything they have ever known. But despite his small size and unpredictable behaviour, Eric makes a lasting impact on the family. This lovely and moving story will spark lots of conversation about acceptance and perspective.

Monsters 101

By Cale Atkinson,

Book cover of Monsters 101

Why this book?

I love funny books! In Monsters 101, three hilarious professors share little-known, laugh-out-loud facts about monsters of all shapes and sizes. Readers will get a kick out of the non-fiction format and bright visuals. The author-illustrator of the book is the same illustrator of my book If I Had a Gryphon, so he knows a thing or two about drawing monsters!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in unicorns, tadpoles, and monsters?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about unicorns, tadpoles, and monsters.

Unicorns Explore 35 books about unicorns
Tadpoles Explore 5 books about tadpoles
Monsters Explore 79 books about monsters

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like How to Catch a Unicorn, Kevin the Unicorn, and The Unicorn Sonata if you like this list.