The best children’s books about seeing things differently

Who am I?

Growing up, I loved drawing and painting and disliked writing papers, so always thought of myself solely as an illustrator. Then one day, the tale of a pie-baking worm looking for new digs (Ned’s New Home) popped into my head and I shifted into author-illustrator. Later, the story of some highly innovative forest critters (One Snowy Morning) took form and I flipped fully into the role of author (with illustrator Dana Wulfekotte’s vision filling the pages). Of course, children’s story narratives can carry big ideas. For me, the opportunities surrounding the books themselves have taught me that the ability to see things differently is a very valuable tool.

I wrote...

One Snowy Morning

By Kevin Tseng, Dana Wulfekotte (illustrator),

Book cover of One Snowy Morning

What is my book about?

One morning, a squirrel and a chipmunk happen upon a giant heap of snow decorated with strange objects and are not sure what to make of it. Readers will recognize a fully-equipped snowman, but our woodland friends come up with an entirely different set of uses for the objects — not once, but two times! The result is a festive celebration with their pals and then the realization that someone else might also find the objects useful. So they return (almost) everything to the original spot with comical results.

The books I picked & why

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The Red Lemon

By Bob Staake,

Book cover of The Red Lemon

Why this book?

As a recovering perfectionist, it took (and still can take) a long time for me to appreciate an unexpected development. Like my younger self, Farmer McPhee has a clear vision for every one of the perfect yellow lemons growing in his orchard. They will be used for sweet cakes, zingy sherbets, ice-cold drinks, and — [gasp] — he discovers a glaring glitch that could ruin all of his plans. Luckily, not everyone sees things like Farmer McPhee and a glitch for one person is pure inspiration for another.

Round Trip

By Ann Jonas,

Book cover of Round Trip

Why this book?

As a kid, I remember staring out the window during car rides and being mesmerized by shapes, repetition, and motion. This masterfully designed book captures that dream-like quality during a daytime road trip from country into city. The detailed black-and-white illustrations use silhouette and pattern to convey the shifting scenery. And just when you think the book has come to an end, you flip the entire thing over and travel back home — at night!

Toot & Puddle (Toot & Puddle, 1)

By Holly Hobbie,

Book cover of Toot & Puddle (Toot & Puddle, 1)

Why this book?

The grass is not always greener on the other side, especially with these two friends. One wants to travel the world (deserts! mountains! tundra!), while the other wants to stay at home (swimming! baking! ice skating!). Rather than be envious of each other, they share their adventures via postcards and the recipient’s own experience is further deepened. Inspired by this exchange, for many years a friend and I would alternate being “Toot” or “Puddle,” sending postcards to each other about our adventures near and far.

The Wizard of Oz

By L. Frank Baum, Lizbeth Zwerger (illustrator),

Book cover of The Wizard of Oz

Why this book?

“Green witch, red shoes” automatically comes to my mind with this title (courtesy of the popular 1939 musical). I am so grateful to acclaimed illustrator Lizbeth Zwerger — who *never* saw that film — for her fresh and captivating interpretation of this story. Baum’s original silver shoes are here and “Dainty China Country” is not forgotten. I still enjoy the “green witch, red shoes” version, but having an alternative perspective gives the source text even more depth.


By Istvan Banyai,

Book cover of Zoom

Why this book?

It’s an accomplishment to change a reader’s perspective once in a book, if not twice. Yet this book manages to do so with every page turn. Just when you think the author has run out of room (to zoom!), another visual twist is added to the cunning and wordless sequence. A friend gave me this book as a gift years ago; I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I seek out that same friend’s advice when looking for second opinions.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in visual perception, country life, and England?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about visual perception, country life, and England.

Visual Perception Explore 10 books about visual perception
Country Life Explore 35 books about country life
England Explore 647 books about England

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like About Looking, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and Curvilinear Perspective from Visual Space to the Constructed Image if you like this list.