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

Who am I?

I am an author and illustrator of several picture books including My Daddy Can Fly, Starboy - Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of David Bowie, Imagination Vacation, Seb and the Sun and Mae and the Moon. I’ve always been a curious person filled with wonder at our amazing world, and I love letting my imagination get taken away by a good book. I find picture books to be the perfect format to blend my love of illustration and story, and some of the stories I love the most are those that are imaginative and magical, but also give a little tug at the heartstrings, fill us with warmth and make us want to read them again and again. 

I wrote...

Seb and the Sun

By Jami Gigot,

Book cover of Seb and the Sun

What is my book about?

Inspired by my son and my life in the Pacific Northwest, Seb and the Sun is a book about a young boy who lives in a town so far north that the sun doesn’t shine in winter. With the help of a magic rope, a bucket, and his best friend Walrus, Seb goes on an epic adventure out to sea and towards the horizon to find the sun and bring its light and warmth back to his small seaside village.

For the illustrations, I used muted colors with splashes of northern nights, until the end, where we get an explosion of color as Seb brings his captured bottles of sunshine to share with his family and neighbors. At its heart, Seb and the Sun is a book about our connection with others and sharing with our community. 

The books I picked & why

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The Sea Serpent and Me

By Dashka Slater, Catia Chien (illustrator),

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. 

Extra Yarn

By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

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. 

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. 

Lenny & Lucy

By Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (illustrator),

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. 


By Jess Townes, Jennifer Harney (illustrator),

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. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in magic-supernatural, dogs, and sea monsters?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about magic-supernatural, dogs, and sea monsters.

Magic-Supernatural Explore 348 books about magic-supernatural
Dogs Explore 252 books about dogs
Sea Monsters Explore 9 books about sea monsters

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Kids Knitting, Lester's Dreadful Sweaters, and The Story Blanket if you like this list.