The best picture books for all ages

The Books I Picked & Why

Monster Mama

By Liz Rosenberg

Book cover of Monster Mama

Why this book?

A literal splash of colors by Stephen Gammel makes this picture book beautiful to behold. Liz Rosenberg tells the tale of a little boy who, with the help of his fierce Monster Mama, is able to mend bridges with some wild boys who threaten him. The surprise ending is wonderful—and delicious!

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Alice the Fairy

By David Shannon

Book cover of Alice the Fairy

Why this book?

Written and illustrated by David Shannon, this delightful story is about a “temporary fairy” who aims to be a “permanent fairy,” but can’t quite seem to get there. Using a wand and ordinary items from her world, she effects “magic” on everything she touches, to measurable success—except when she turns a white dress into a red one and The Duchess locks her into a tower. (She escapes.) A fun story for fairy lovers!

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By Gyo Fujikawa

Book cover of Babies

Why this book?

This old standby is one of the most memorable picture board books; I still recall reading it when I was four. Illustrating babies in all spaces and of all colors, Fujikawa makes the reader yearn to play with them. Fujikawa (1908–1998), designed many books for the Walt Disney Company, including promotional work on the movie Fantasia. But her work in Babies is not so cartoony as much as illustrated pen and ink. A keeper.

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The Rainbabies

By Laura Krauss Melmed, Jim LaMarche

Book cover of The Rainbabies

Why this book?

On the night of a moonshower, a childless couple is bequeathed 12 tiny rainbabies, each no bigger than a big toe. They lavish care on them, but “dangers born of water, fire, and earth” threaten the safety of the babies. The couple is offered a fortune to give them to a rich lady who is childless, but they refuse. Then one day Mother Moonshower comes to take the rainbabies back. In their stead she leaves the couple a human-sized baby to raise and “their happiness was complete.” A heartwarming story.

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The Napping House

By Audrey Wood, Don Wood

Book cover of The Napping House

Why this book?

“There is a house, a napping house, where everyone is sleeping.” Atop the snoring grandma comes a dreaming child, who is then covered by a dozing dog, when a cat comes to snooze atop it—and then comes the wakeful flea atop the cat. Soon the pile is disrupted, the bed is broken, and no one is napping in the napping house anymore. A simple, lyrical story reminiscent of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

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