Continuing last week’s favorite picture books list, here are a few more recommendations. These were all childhood favorites thanks to their creative storylines and lavish illustrations.
The Moon Lady by Amy Tan
This is a “visual feast” type of book, with every page a rich tapestry of color and action. A young girl gets lost during the Chinese Moon Festival and her attempts to get back to her family take her all across the city. The story does a good job capturing what it feels like to be a child at an age when slipping past the net of adult supervision is simultaneously thrilling and frightening. I pored over The Moon Lady again and again as a kid, captivated by the adventure and by the strange new world opening up through the pages.
The Foxwood Regatta, The Foxwood Smugglers, and the rest of the Foxwood series by the Patersons
Don’t let the fact that the main characters are cute little animals deceive you. These books jump from one adventure to another as Harvey Mouse, Willie the Hedgehog, Rue Rabbit and friends face off against conniving rats, get into all kinds of scrapes, and pause occasionally for mouth-wateringly good meals. Fun (and funny) tales for kids and adults alike.
Dabble Duck by Anne Leo Ellis
Dabble made an adorable duckling, but grew into a lonely and bored adult bird wreaking havoc in a small city apartment. One day, Dabble’s owner discovers a small disheveled stray dog on the street and Dabble finds a new friend. This is a sweet story for younger kids, with simple but entertaining pictures.
Sir Francis Drake: His Daring Deeds by Roy Gerrard
Roy Gerrard’s whimsical and detailed art and side-splittingly funny verse will attract any kid. He has a unique illustrating style all his own, and places his subjects in historical settings ranging from the Wild West to ancient Rome. Sir Francis is only one among many equally great picture books by Gerrard. Whichever books we didn’t own came home from the library frequently: The Favershams, Rosie and the Rustlers, and Sir Cedric, to name only a few.
1 is One by Tasha Tudor
Tudor’s gentle rhymes and classic sweet illustrations will appeal to the tiniest folks on your list – A is for Annabelle and 1 is One are beautiful beginning alphabet and counting books with old-fashioned pictures and intricate borders. To be truthful, I liked these books in a disinterested sort of way, but my mother adores them (and all Tasha Tudor’s picture books) to this day.
Eloise by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hillary Knight
Eloise is about as fun as a picture book can possibly get. A small girl lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York. Armed with attitude and boundless imagination, Eloise causes trouble from one end of the hotel to the other, driving guests, her tutor, and her nanny to distraction in the process. The quirky tri-color illustrations are full of funny surprises hidden in the details. In recent years, additional volumes written with new collaborators have joined the Eloise collection, but the original five Eloise books are still the best: Eloise, Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmas, Eloise in Moscow, and Eloise Takes a Bawth.
These books aren’t stories. They’re visual puzzles, with lists of tiny items to find in each highly intricate picture. The individual scenes in the Where’s Waldo books tend to be set in different historical eras, while the For Eagle Eyes Only scenes often revolve around childhood legends and fairy tales. Best for slightly older kids (probably eight and up, depending on the kid?). My brothers and I got endless mileage out of these books. I suggest keeping one as a surprise and pulling it out just in time for a long road trip. You won’t hear a peep from the back seat for the next several hours.