The best picture books with a bit of magic and a lot of heart

The Books I Picked & Why

The Sea Serpent and Me

By Dashka Slater, Catia Chien

Book cover of The Sea Serpent and Me

Why this book?

When a tiny sea serpent suddenly drops out of the faucet and into a girl’s bath, an immediate and playful friendship begins. As the sea serpent grows bigger, he tells the tale of how he was carried by a tornado over jungles and silvery cities until he landed in a lake and was whooshed up by a pipe. He sings fanciful songs about the deep blue sea and fish-shaped like guitars. Eventually, he grows so big that the little girl knows it’s time he returns to the sea. So, she helps the sea serpent, now big as a whale, overcome his fear of being left on his own, reminding him that he won’t be lonely, and will have new adventures with newfound friends. Catia Chien’s gorgeous illustrations are very expressive and a beautiful compliment to this lovely story of learning to let go and do what’s right. 


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Extra Yarn

By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen

Book cover of Extra Yarn

Why this book?

I adore the sweet character of Annabelle in this tale about a magical endless box of yarn. As Annabelle knits sweaters for all the townspeople, the animals, and even for the things that don’t wear sweaters like the houses and cars and trees, her entire town becomes transformed into a colorful wonderland. When a rich archduke, very fond of clothes, attempts to take the box from Annabelle, we come to realize that perhaps it’s not just a magic box of yarn, but the ingenuity of this crafty and generous girl that brings the warmth, quite literally, to this whimsical tale. 


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Grandad's Secret Giant

By David Litchfield

Book cover of Grandad's Secret Giant

Why this book?

Grandad has always said that the giant in town is real and a helpful and kind friend, but Billie doesn’t believe in Grandad’s tall tales. When Billie himself discovers the giant, and runs from fright and panic at this huge creature, he comes to understand why the giant has kept himself hidden. Feeling awful about his overreaction, Billie makes it his mission to make it up to the giant by making him a very special gift. Full of humour and heart, Grandad’s Secret Giant shows us that acceptance and kindness towards all people, big or small, is important, and David Litchfield’s stunning illustrations glow on the pages in this beautiful book. 


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Lenny & Lucy

By Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead

Book cover of Lenny & Lucy

Why this book?

This is a lovely story about a young boy named Peter who has just moved to a new house and takes it upon himself to make two new friends from blankets and pillows and piles of leaves. He names his new friends Lenny and Lucy, and they are the guardians of the bridge keeping out the dark woods on the other side. As Lenny, Lucy, Peter, and his dog Harold guard the bridge and collect rocks, a neighbor girl joins the group, creating a real and true friendship that blossoms as they discover the woods are no longer dark and spooky, but a place of wonder for interesting things to see and discover. 


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Spellbound

By Jess Townes, Jennifer Harney

Book cover of Spellbound

Why this book?

When looking for picture books with magic and heart, this book is simply perfect. Willow, who has always captivated her family’s attention with her cuteness and spells, is no longer the center of attention when her new baby brother Rowan is born. Willow knows that Rowan is a very dangerous wizard indeed and will not be mesmerized by his hypnotic enchantments, but even she cannot resist Rowan’s power in this story of sibling relationships and the magic of love. 


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