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. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Sea Serpent and Me

Jami Gigot Why did I love 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. 

By Dashka Slater, Catia Chien (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sea Serpent and Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One day a small sea serpent falls from the faucet into the tub as a child is about to take a bath, and as the days go by and the serpent grows, they both realize that he needs to go back to the sea where he belongs.


Book cover of Extra Yarn

Jami Gigot Why did I love 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. 

By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Extra Yarn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From bestselling and award-winning author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen comes Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Times bestseller.
A young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community in this stunning picture book. With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic.


Book cover of Grandad's Secret Giant

Jami Gigot Why did I love 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. 

By David Litchfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grandad's Secret Giant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

'Funny, touching and visually stunning, this really is a book to treasure'-Daily Mail

A GIANT story of belonging and friendship from David Litchfield, author ofThe Bear and the Piano. "He has hands the size of tables," Grandad said, "legs as long as drainpipes and feet as big as rowing boats. Do you know who I mean?" "Yes," sighed Billy. "The Secret Giant. But he's not real!" Billy doesn't believe his Grandad when he tells him there's a giant living in his town, doing good deeds for everyone. He knows that a giant is too big to keep himself hidden. And…


Book cover of Lenny & Lucy

Jami Gigot Why did I love 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 Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lenny & Lucy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter and his father are moving to a new house beyond the dark unfriendly woods. When they arrive at their new home, Peter wants to turn back. Fortunately, he has Harold for company, but Harold is just a dog and can't help Peter. Scared of the things hidden in the woods, Peter makes a tall pile of pillows. He stitches and sews. He pushes and pulls. And when he is done, he has Lenny, Guardian of the Bridge, to protect him and Harold. Lenny is a good guard but Peter worries that Lenny will get lonely out by the woods…


Book cover of Spellbound

Jami Gigot Why did I love 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. 

By Jess Townes, Jennifer Harney (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spellbound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A funny, fresh twist on new-sibling relationships and the magic of love.
Willow's world is perfectly magical, until Rowan is born. When her new baby brother seems to enchant everyone he meets, Willow becomes convinced he is an actual, real-life wizard. Can Willow put a stop to his hocus pocus, or is Rowan's magic too powerful to resist?

Author Jess Townes brings fresh and expressive writing that's sure to appeal to young children, while illustrator Jenn Harney's unique and colorful art style brings this wonderful, whimsical story to life.


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The Road from Belhaven

By Margot Livesey,

Book cover of The Road from Belhaven

Margot Livesey Author Of The Road from Belhaven

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Secret orphan Professor Scottish Novelist

Margot's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Road from Belhaven is set in 1880s Scotland. Growing up in the care of her grandparents on Belhaven Farm, Lizzie Craig discovers as a small girl that she can see the future. But she soon realises that she must keep her gift a secret. While she can sometimes glimpse the future, she can never change it.

Nor can Lizzie change the feelings that come when a young man named Louis, visiting Belhaven for the harvest, begins to court her. Why have the adults around her never told her that the touch of a hand can change everything? When she follows Louis to Glasgow, she begins to learn the limits of his devotion and the complexities of her own affections.

The Road from Belhaven

By Margot Livesey,

What is this book about?

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, a novel about a young woman whose gift of second sight complicates her coming of age in late-nineteenth-century Scotland

Growing up in the care of her grandparents on Belhaven Farm, Lizzie Craig discovers as a small child that she can see into the future. But her gift is selective—she doesn’t, for instance, see that she has an older sister who will come to join the family. As her “pictures” foretell various incidents and accidents, she begins to realize a painful truth: she may glimpse the future, but…


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