15 Picture Books with Truly Amazing Illustrations

In picture books, the art is only half the story -- but what a half! Eye-catching illustrations draw young readers in and lead them through the storytelling to encounter characters loaded with personality and landscapes and skyscapes realistic or imaginary. From prancing peacocks to the man in the moon, a classic fairy tale to a wordless fantasy journey, our list has exceptional books to captivate kids. For other artful options, check out our lists of Caldecott Medal and Honor Books and Wonderful Wordless Books.

Flora and the Peacocks Poster Image
BOOK

Flora and the Peacocks

age 3+

Gorgeous look at negotiating a three-way friendship.

By: Molly Idle (2016)
See full review
Hello Hello Poster Image
BOOK

Hello Hello

age 3+

Intro to wildlife at risk celebrates animals of all stripes.

By: Brendan Wenzel (2018)
See full review
The Lion & the Mouse Poster Image
BOOK

The Lion & the Mouse

age 3+

Retold fable with out-of-this-world art; a true keepsake.

By: Jerry Pinkney (2009)
See full review
We Are Water Protectors Poster Image
BOOK

We Are Water Protectors

age 3+

Powerful words, vibrant images inspire care for the earth.

By: Carole Lindstrom (2020)
See full review
All the Way to Havana Poster Image
BOOK

All the Way to Havana

age 4+

Celebration of Cuban family and ingenuity has gorgeous art.

By: Margarita Engle (2017)
See full review
Blue Sky White Stars Poster Image
BOOK

Blue Sky White Stars

age 4+

Stirring, poetic take on America and flag has majestic art.

By: Sarvinder Naberhaus (2017)
See full review
Little Elliot, Big City Poster Image
BOOK

Little Elliot, Big City

age 4+

Isolated elephant finds pal in sweet tale with dazzling art.

By: Mike Curato (2014)
See full review
The Man in the Moon: The Guardians of Childhood Poster Image
BOOK

The Man in the Moon: The Guardians of Childhood

age 4+

Adventures of young Man in the Moon a perfect bedtime read.

By: William Joyce (2011)
See full review
Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters Poster Image
BOOK

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters

age 4+

Picture book bio of blues great has dazzling art.

By: Michael James Mahin (2017)
See full review
Ocean Meets Sky Poster Image
BOOK

Ocean Meets Sky

age 4+

Boy remembers his grandfather in magical, visual tale.

By: Terry Fan, Eric Fan (2018)
See full review
Outside In Poster Image
BOOK

Outside In

age 4+

Gorgeous but moody images contrast with joy of outdoors.

By: Deborah Underwood (2020)
See full review
All Because You Matter Poster Image
BOOK

All Because You Matter

age 5+

Poetic declaration to children that their lives matter.

By: Tami Charles (2020)
See full review
I Am Every Good Thing Poster Image
BOOK

I Am Every Good Thing

age 5+

Dynamic art, poetry enhance vivid celebration of Black boys.

By: Derrick Barnes (2020)
See full review
Journey Poster Image
BOOK

Journey

age 5+

Enchanting art, wordless fantasy lead kids to tell story.

By: Aaron Becker (2013)
See full review
Grand Canyon Poster Image
BOOK

Grand Canyon

age 7+

Informative, imaginative, gorgeous intro to natural history.

By: Jason Chin (2017)
See full review