Growing Reader

12 Stunningly Beautiful New
Picture Books

by Janssen Bradshaw

Sometimes you pick up a picture book for the story, but sometimes it’s the illustrations that grab you — illustrations that make you stop and pause for an extra minute or two to pore every detail and marvel at how stunningly gorgeous they are.

These twelve new picture books do just that. You’ll never tire of looking at these beautiful illustrations, no matter how many times your child wants to read the stories. You might even be tempted to buy a second copy so you can frame some of the art too!

  • An Artist's Alphabet

    by Norman Messenger

    Just when you think you’ve seen every possible alphabet book, Messenger pulls out all the stops with this elegant volume. Each page has an upper and lowercase letter made of objects or people that begin with that letter, but as it goes on, there are more clever details to find on each page, many of which you won’t discover until subsequent readings.

  • Teacup

    by Rebecca Young, illustrated by Matt Ottley

    This one just came out in October and has already garnered a whole pile of starred reviews. It follows a boy leaving his old home to find a new one, bringing along with him a teacup full of dirt. The journey across the sea isn’t always smooth, but eventually he arrives on land. When another traveler arrives as well, things start to feel a little more like home.

  • The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

    by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

    If an Erin Stead book has come out, you know it’s going to be included on this list — everything she touches is magical. In this one, a man lives alone by the sea, opening the bottles that wash up on shore and making sure their messages make it to their intended recipient. But secretly, he hopes that one day a message might wash up that’s addressed to him.

  • This Is Our Baby, Born Today

    by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

    This book just exudes warmth and love with its bright, lush colors of the jungle. There, a little elephant is born and welcomed by its family and the community around him. You can hardly imagine a book that more beautifully depicts the wide-eyed wonder of a new baby and the delight of the family as they watch their baby grow and explore.

  • Shy

    by Deborah Freedman

    Shy loves birds, from the way they fly to the way they sing to their beautiful colors. But he’s only experienced them in books and he’s so shy that he can’t bring himself to leave the safety of the book gutter and meet one in real life. This sweet book is perfect for any child (or adult!) who has ever felt afraid of venturing out into the world.

  • The Lost House

    by B. B. Cronin

    The retro illustrations in this one are just so fun and whimsical. A grandfather is planning to take his grandchildren to the park, but he’s lost his socks and shoes, and even his teeth, so it might be a while until they can depart. This book isn’t just oversized, it’s also filled with bright color and fun seek-and-find puzzles on each page. It’s an absolute gem.

  • Imagine a City

    by Elise Hurst

    If you love detailed and fantastical other worlds, this book is for you. The rhyming text brings to life a city of imagination for two children and their mother on an outing that takes a turn for the magical. There are so many unexpected details and twists and turns, you’ll never get tired of returning to this magical place.

  • The Littlest Family’s Big Day

    by Emily Winfield Martin

    This is the SWEETEST book about a tiny forest family of bears that moves to the wood with their even tinier adopted new fox baby. And of course, once you’ve moved somewhere new, the first thing to do is explore! What will they find? You’ll love finding out in this gorgeous new picture book.

  • Little Penguins

    by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Christian Robinson

    What could be more exciting for five tiny penguins than a snow day? With winter arriving, snow starts to fall and the penguins recruit their mother to help them bundle up. Except for one little penguin who thinks maybe he’d just rather stay home with his mama.

  • 123 Dream

    by Kim Krans

    If you saw Kim Krans’s earlier book, ABC Dream, you already know you don’t want to miss this stunning counting book, with black and white drawings of animals and the outdoors finished with watercolor touches. Plus, the search-and-find aspect makes it especially absorbing for children.

  • Penguin Problems

    by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith

    You’ll be hard-pressed not to fall in love with this humorous tale. I mean, it sounds great to be a penguin, doesn’t it? Sure, until you consider that not only is the Antarctic freezing, everyone wants to eat those cute little penguins, and it’s basically impossible to find your mom (or anyone else) when you all look identical. And the illustrations are the perfect finishing touch on this story that will have you all glad (or not!) to be a penguin.

  • Before Morning

    by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes

    I absolutely love Krommes’s scratchboard art and this book is no exception. In the midst of busy family life, a little girl convinces her family to spend one snow day home together, not rushing around as usual, but enjoying every moment. This is the perfect winter book that you’ll want to keep reading right on through spring.

What other gorgeous picture books have you been reading lately?