December 28, 2021

Favorite Picture Books of 2021

By Dipacho

In this wordless story, a family experiences loss as they leave the home they know to find a new home in a strange land. Dipacho's use of the gutter is particularly impactful in this book, creating opportunities to demonstrate movement and moments that pack an emotional punch. 

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.
Check out the endpapers here.

By Mags DeRoma

A young child is all snuggled in her bed, ready to fall asleep, when she sees it out of the corner of her eye: a spider! The collage illustrations—made from cut paper, soft pastels, and paints—utilize complementary colors and a give off an incredible vibrancy that pulls you into the darkest corners of each illustration, unafraid!

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.
Check out the endpapers here.

By Renée Watson, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Nikkolas Smith

This poetry-in-verse picture book catalogs the history of slavery and Black resistance in the United States through the lens of a child researching her ancestral tree. The digital illustrations are incredibly nuanced with a strong focus on light versus shadow, and the book ends on a note of hope and possibility.

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.

By Carter Higgins

This incredibly thoughtful concept book compares colors, shapes, and objects! It has hands-down the most delightful collaged illustrations I've ever seen, with brightly-colored, hand-painted pieces of paper that sit on a white background amidst sparse black text. The format is also special, at 52 pages and bound as paper-over-board.

To read my interview with Carter click here.
Check out the endpapers here.

By Henry Herz and Mercè López

This jaw-dropping look at smoke, all told from smoke's point of view, takes readers through its personal history through time, from helping people signal one another over long distances to soothing bees so beekeepers can harvest their honey to even the harm it can cause. The illustrations are created with a variety of paints, including acrylic and watercolor, and of course real smoke.

To read my interview with Mercè click here.

By Kim Hyo-Eun and translated by Deborah Smith

The Seoul subway network is the longest in the world, carrying an average of 7.2 million people per day on city lines, and I Am the Subway chronicles moments from the lives of a few of the people who use it. The watercolor illustrations are gentle and vary in tone and color, all mirroring the rhythm of an actual subway as readers flip the pages and travel along.

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.

By Isol

Two exhausted parents become desperate for a reprieve as their kid becomes more and more impossible to deal with. When they see an ad for a specialist who can help solve their problem, they jump at the change but the specialist's solution isn't quite what the parents imagined. 

To read my interview with Isol click here.
Check out the endpapers here.

By Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and Regis And Kahran Bethencourt

The possibilities are endless for what Black and brown children can be, and this stunning photographed book shows kids acknowledging everything that makes them who they are (and will become!). Every new sentiment or moment expressed—joy, sadness, creativity—is accompanied by a photo of at least one child in striking costumery celebrating self-love and future potential.

Check out the endpapers here.

By Tereza Sediva

Mole is afraid to leave his hole, and it's only through the power of friendship and faith that he finds it in himself to take fate into his own hands. The spine of the book runs along the top of the book rather than along the lefthand side, so readers experience the story by flipping pages from bottom to top rather than left to right, and the illustrations are so creative because of it!

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.

By Marie Dorléans

It's completely dark as a family of four gets dressed, slips out of their house, and pads through their quiet, sleepy neighborhood toward the bordering hills to go on a hike. Awaiting them at the end of their trip? The sunrise. Dorléans' illustrations are created from pencil and watercolor paints, with digital touch-ups, and Dorléans masterfully captures even the smallest glow of light in her dark illustrations.

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.
And check out the incredible spot gloss on the front here.

By Elsa Fouquier

This is a unique board book with four different wooden shapes that facilitate a tactile experience for Baby. Each of the four pieces is a unique shape and color, and the interactive experience with each piece is different, too. Readers are not only learning early concepts, they're actively using them!

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.
To check out my other favorite board books click here.

By Thao Lam

Picture book creator Thao Lam's autobiographical account of growing up with a name that is hard for many people to pronounce might be her finest yet. The design of this book is top-notch, done in Thao's signature paper collage style but with actual photos of herself as a child mixed in and special typography to make many parts look hand-written.

To read my interview with Thao from last year click here.
Check out the endpapers here.

By Julie Morstad

Time is the ticking of a clock, a seed about to bloom, and the snip of a pair of scissors cutting your hair. Morstad created the illustrations with pencil, markers, colored inks, and pastels which were all assembled digitally. Many of the images are black with a pop of color (or sometimes a few colors), so the colorful parts of the illustrations make the experience feel more transcendent and even magical at times.

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.

By Frida Kahlo and Gianluca Folì

In Kahlo's own words, readers experience one of her childhood memories of a adventure with an imaginary friend. Folì's mixed media illustrations intensify in color over the course of the story, and it's worth noting that Folì never tries to mimic Kahlo's body of work, but rather draws inspiration from her color palette and love of animals to create a wholly new and unique view peek the artist's mind.

To read my full review and see more interiors click here.

By Julie Flett

This book is the perfect backdrop for creating a conversation about the universality of play and exploring the connections between how humans play, how nature plays, and how we all play together on this planet. Flett's digital illustrations are masterfully energetic and pure fun.

To read my interview with Julie click here.

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  1. Your write-ups are always so thoughtful and delightful. Thank you for all the work you put into this wonderful resource for picture book lovers.

    1. Wow, thank you so much for the kind words, Elayne! So proud to be a trusted resource!