My Favorite Picture Books… Right Now

Julia's House for Lost Creatures. Image credit: First Second
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures. Image credit: First Second.

In the past, we used to pick our picture books willy-nilly at the library with the two kids in tow. Recently, I found out my library offers an online book-requesting service at no cost, so I can reserve titles and have them all bundled up and ready for me to pick up on my way home from work. Since my kids tend to pick books with little thought or care—though they love bedtime stories, they don’t seem to understand that time invested in a careful selection means better stories later on—pre-selecting the book myself has helped us hit a lot more “winners.” So, without further ado, here’s a list of my family’s favorite picture books right now.

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by author-illustrator Ben Hatke (pictured above)

We were already fans of Hatke after reading the graphic novel series Zita the Spacegirl, and this picture book did not disappoint. Julia is new in town, but she doesn’t remain bored for long when she adds a sign to her house: “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.” Soon, all kinds of mythical creatures show up seeking shelter and chaos ensues. Good thing Julia’s got a few tricks up her sleeve.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. Image credit: Hachette Book Group
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. Image credit: Hachette Book Group.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by author-illustrator Dan Santat

Santat’s latest book made a big splash last week, after it was announced as a Caldecott Medalist. Beekle is the story of an imaginary friend who’s tired of waiting for his friend to imagine him, so he takes an adventure into the real world to find his friend all on his own. I just can’t decide which aspect of this book I like the best: the art or the story? The whole thing is adorable, right down to the close-up shot of Beekle’s square little bottom sitting in a tree.

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great. Image credit: Disney-Hyperion
Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great. Image credit: Disney-Hyperion.

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by author-illustrator Bob Shea

The title alone was enough to sell me on this book, plus there’s a unicorn, tons of cupcakes, and sparkles all over the book cover. That’s so much win just on the cover. The story is equally fun and silly. Goat is pretty jealous of Unicorn, the new kid in town. Now all of Goat’s tricks are nothing compared to what that stupid Unicorn can do. But fear not, Unicorn is one friendly dude who keeps it real, and he thinks Goat is pretty cool himself. What could these enemies accomplish if they become friends?

What Do You Do With An Idea? Image credit: Compendium Kids
What Do You Do With An Idea? Image credit: Compendium Kids.

What Do You Do With An Idea? written Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom

I love this book. I mean, I love this book. The art is fantastic, which is obviously a running thread along my favorite books. In this story, a child gets an idea, represented as an egg. The boy doesn’t know what to do with his idea: He tries to ignore it, people make fun of him for it, etc. As the story goes, the egg gets bigger and bigger and starts to color the sepia-toned world around it. It’s just beautiful. It’s a simple and admittedly abstract concept, and my 4-year-old finished the book in disbelief. “An idea can’t do that,” she said, sounding almost insulted. It opened up the floor to a great conversation about how even a small idea can have a big impact on the world. Slow clap, drops mic.

Ariane is a programmer married to another programmer. Together they have two little girls who don't stand a chance against their nerdy lineage. Ariane can also be found illustrating for Intelligently Adorable.