A picture is worth a thousand words. And, quite often, a picture alone can take us to another world. For kids, books infused with vivid illustrations often provide this imaginary escape. From traveling along on a beam of light to crossing an ocean on a flimsy raft, here are 10 beautiful picture books that take kids on unusual journeys:
by Michelle Cuevas
The uncorker of ocean bottles is a loner who lives on top of a hill. But his job is a very important one. He opens all the bottles lost at sea. If there is a message inside, he delivers them. Although he loves his job, he secretly wishes a message would arrive for him. On an ordinary afternoon, he opens a bottle to find an invitation with no name attached. Will he search for the recipient or accept the invitation as his own? Whisper-y pencil drawings accompany this usual, yet beautiful journey.
by Oliver Jeffers
Across endless oceans, to where the sea meets the earth, a little girl sails on her raft. At a house, she encourages a boy travel along on her adventure. Together, they sail through magical forests, across mountains of make believe, on a lyrical illustrated adventure that unlocks the imagination. “An ingenious, confident, and pretty cool exploration of literary delight,” says Kirkus Reviews.
by Aaron Becker
After drawing a magic door on her wall with a red marker, a little girl slips into another world where fun, adventure, and danger await. Using her marker, she draws a boat, balloon, and flying carpet which take her on an incredible journey to far off places. Can the marker also take her home? “Finely detailed pen-and-ink line drawings combine with luminous washes of watercolor to create a rich and enchanting setting,” says School Library Journal.
by Kate DiCamillo
Louise longs for adventure, and she’s not afraid to seek a thrill. Again and again, she leaves the safety of her henhouse in search of exciting escapades. She escapes a sinking ship, survives being captured by pirates, and even narrowly runs from the mouth a lion. She shares her wild journey with her barnyard pals who are delighted by her tale. Each of Louise’s escapades ends with an old hen asking her where she has been. “Oh, here and there,” is Louise’s simple answer.
by Carson Elli
Some of the most unusual journeys happen in our own backyards. When a mysterious seedling emerges from the ground inside the insect world, no bigger than a few square feet, it sets off a series of wondrous events. But, as the insects relish in the mystery and excitement, something ominous lingers above. “Du Is Tak?” is a glorious visual adventure, filled with intricate illustrations and an imaginary language.
by Dan Santat
Classic storytelling and contemporary art collide in “The Adventures of Beekle,” the story about an island where imaginary friends are born. When one special friend comes into the world, he wonders if he will ever find his human pal. He is overlooked time and again by real children. Sad and confused, one day he sets off for the big city in search of a friend. There, he finally meets his perfect match and is given a wonderful name: Beekle.
by Corinna Luyken
Some journeys take us not to specific places, but through one of life’s many experiences. In “The Book of Mistakes,” children travel through the creative process and witness firsthand an artist’s many mistakes. Uneven eyes. Unexpected blotches. Animals that don’t look like animals. Sometimes the biggest oopsies are the source of the best ideas.
by Jennifer Berne
When a young boy rides his bike down a dusty, dirt road, he envisions himself floating along on a beam of light. It was Albert Einstein’s vivid imagination that led to his greatest discoveries. Now, in “On a Beam of Light,” children can learn to unlock their own imaginations and celebrate science.
by Jim LaMarche
When his father drops him off at his grandmother’s woodland cottage for a summer near the river, Nicky is not impressed. Gram doesn’t have a TV, she expects him to do chores, and there’s no one to play with. Soon, a curious raft drifts ashore and Nicky learns that the woods are really is quite magical. And so is his artist grandmother. “Jim LaMarche draws on his own childhood summer experiences for this lovely, serene story. As the light and weather change through the summer, the river reflects all the beauty of the season,” says one Amazon reviewer.
by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
From the moment the cover opens, children are transported to the 1893 World’s Fair. Here, American inventor George Ferris defies gravity and the impossible by engineering the world’s first wheel-lifted passenger ride. “Like Mr. Ferris’ invention, Davis’ picture-book bio soars, inspires, and keeps (the pages) ever turning, matching the gregarious text to smaller, often tech-based side comments,” says Booklist.
What picture books would you add to this list? Share in the comments!