The best picture books about unlikely friendships

Jacky Davis and Giselle Potter Author Of Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks
By Jacky Davis and Giselle Potter

Who are we?

The subject of friendship can be explored endlessly, as every friendship is unique. I am especially drawn to stories of unlikely friendships that look at the surprising and interesting ways that we show up for one another. One of the things that I see in all of the stories that Giselle and I have chosen, is that these unusual friendships make a difficult, awkward, or downright scary world a better place to be. 


We wrote and illustrated...

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks

By Jacky Davis, Giselle Potter (illustrator),

Book cover of Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks

What is our book about?

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks is the story of two dogs taking daily walks together and is told in four vignettes. Olive is very old and wise, and Pekoe is rambunctious and inexperienced, and even though they are significantly different, they are still the best of friends. Together they explore the woods, enjoy sticks, get caught in bad weather, and confront a mean bully in a dog park.

A starred Kirkus review, calls the book, “A delight.” And says, “Illustrator Potter’s impressively expressive naïve-style watercolor, ink and colored-pencil illustrations perfectly nuance author Davis’ witty text.”

The books we picked & why

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The Knight and the Dragon

By Tomie dePaola,

Book cover of The Knight and the Dragon

Why this book?

More than anything I love a picture book where a princess is also a librarian. In this story, the knight and dragon learn everything from books—like tail swishing and building armor, all of which lead to a big, pointless fight that leaves them bruised, burned, and battered. The librarian shows up in a book-mobile and hands the dragon and knight BBQ cookbooks. In the last illustration spread, they are shown with a hopping K& D BAR-B-Q joint. I especially enjoy how the armor and fire-breath that were previously used for fighting each other, are now used successfully for their restaurant venture. De Paola’s simple and colorful watercolors bring the story to life, and show that we can all get along really well! 

The Knight and the Dragon

By Tomie dePaola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Knight and the Dragon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens when a sheepish knight and a not-so-fierce dragon fight for the very first time? Well, it's no ordinary battle since the knight has to go to the castle library to learn about dragon-fighting and the dragon must dig through his ancestor's things to find out how to fight a knight! "Spontaneity of line and feeling are backed by zesty colors and a jovial, tongue-in-cheek tone to which children can relate—a top springtime choice." —Booklist "There's a swirl of good-humored life to the book." —The New York Times Book Review


The Lion & the Mouse

By Jerry Pinkney,

Book cover of The Lion & the Mouse

Why this book?

Jerry Pinkney beautifully tackles Aesop’s fable, The Lion & the Mouse. His version is wordless except for a few, potent calls from the animals in the savanna. Pinkney’s luminous watercolor illustrations depict alive and intricate landscapes and animals. Life is shown to be rich, beautiful, and dangerous as a mouse narrowly escapes the talons of an owl, only to stumble upon a magnificent lion. The lion kindly sets the mouse free, and later in the story when the lion is captured by hunters, the mouse hears his mighty roar and comes to his aid, nibbling away the ropes. Once released the lion and the mouse return to their families. I love how this story reflects the inter-dependency of all of us, and how we all matter for the well-being of the other, no matter the size or status of any one individual.

The Lion & the Mouse

By Jerry Pinkney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lion & the Mouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Caldecott Award-winning and New York Times bestselling fable of compassion and kindness retold by acclaimed artist Jerry Pinkney.

In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.

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Lottie's New Friend (Lottie's World)

By Petra Mathers,

Book cover of Lottie's New Friend (Lottie's World)

Why this book?

Lottie is a wise, steady chicken and Herbie is a silly, insecure duck, but their strong friendship is at the core of all the stories in this five-book series. Herbie is extremely jealous of Lottie’s new friend, Dodo. While Lottie is away, Dodo gets stuck on her roof, overcome with a fear of heights, and Herbie comes to her rescue. Herbie feels much better when Dodo says, Now I know…why Lottie says you can always count on Herbie…and that you are ze apple of her eye.” Our whole family is very attached to the endearing personalities of Lottie and Herbie and the stained, worn pages of our copies show how frequently they have been read.

Lottie's New Friend (Lottie's World)

By Petra Mathers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lottie's New Friend (Lottie's World) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who does Lottie like best? Her old friend Herbie asks himself this question when an exotic new neighbour befriends her. That question - familiar to children everywhere - is answered with warmth, humour, and insight.


Amos & Boris

By William Steig,

Book cover of Amos & Boris

Why this book?

Amos, the mouse, and Boris, the whale, have little in common other than their tender feelings for each other. Amos built a boat and set out to sea, but when he falls into the ocean, Boris comes to his rescue. While tiny Amos rides on the giant whale’s back to safety, their friendship blossoms. Of course, a mouse and a whale can never live together, which makes tears roll down Boris’s cheek (and mine). But as with all great friendships, “They knew they would never forget each other.” Steig’s stories always manage to entertain and touch our kids while maintaining an adult level of sophistication and depth.

Amos & Boris

By William Steig,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Amos & Boris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amos the mouse and Boris the whale are friends who have very little in common. Boris rescues Amos, who has set out to sail the seas - but might there be a time when Boris needs rescuing too?

An awardwinning fable and New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year from classic creator, William Steig.


Gaspard and Lisa Friends Forever (Misadventures of Gaspard and Lisa)

By Anne Gutman, Georg Hallensleben (illustrator),

Book cover of Gaspard and Lisa Friends Forever (Misadventures of Gaspard and Lisa)

Why this book?

When a new student, Lisa, comes to Gaspard’s class, he thinks she looks weird. Other than her color, she looks identical to Gaspard and they are both the only dogs in a classroom of humans, but Gaspard does not want anything to do with Lisa. After he learns she is a fast runner who helps his team win a race, he changes his mind and they become friends forever. The loose, bright paintings accentuate their childlike personalities. All their naughty “misadventures” make us laugh out loud every time we read them, which is a lot! 

Gaspard and Lisa Friends Forever (Misadventures of Gaspard and Lisa)

By Anne Gutman, Georg Hallensleben (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gaspard and Lisa Friends Forever (Misadventures of Gaspard and Lisa) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gaspard and Lisa have been friends for a long time . . . ever since last year. In Gaspard and Lisa Friends Forever, Gaspard recounts how he and Lisa met on the first day of school. At first, Gaspard wants nothing to do with her, especially after his classmates joke about how much they look alike, but then Gaspard’s teacher forces him to choose Lisa for his relay team. Despite her unusual kangaroo-hop running style, Lisa wins the race for Gaspard’s team and the rest is history—Gaspard and Lisa become friends forever!


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in friendships, knights, and best friends?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about friendships, knights, and best friends.

Friendships Explore 387 books about friendships
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Best Friends Explore 57 books about best friends

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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