Guest Post: Judge a book by its cover: books with beautiful illustrations

Guest Post: Judge a book by its cover: books with beautiful illustrations

Guest Post: Judge a book by its cover: books with beautiful illustrations


We all know that books are purely about the narrative, right? Well after an adulthood of the plain-words type, I have been amazed at how the illustrations of children’s books bring story arcs alive. Add to that the beautiful, implicit picture sequences which teach children to ‘read between the lines’ and encourage their emotional literacy, a vital skill for (sorry to mention it here) school and beyond. Likewise, as enjoyable as all the following stories are, the fact they look like pieces of art on your bookcase (or on your ikea-hack spice rack) is a total bonus. They are a joy to catch glimpse of and to display. Finally, these books make superb presents in their own right. Books are just the gift that keeps on giving…


There’s a Tiger In The Garden – Lizzy Stewart

While I don’t especially want to label a book ‘a trend‘’, this book really does appeal to my botanic side with a verdant front page and the little girl facing a beautifully illustrated tiger. The narrative follows a reluctant young explorer in her grandma’s garden and the power of the imagination. It was also surprisingly philosophical which is always a tick for the ‘pleases parent, pleases little one’ box. This novel’s protagonist has the same unusual name as my daughter, too, so I think this will be a firm favourite for many years.

When You Were Born – Emma Dodd

Almost lyrical, Emma Dodd stories are well-known and powerfully emotive, with this being no exception. We visit various animal families (famous from her other titles) who have each had their own baby. The wide pages make the illustrations the feature and different landscapes are added to with the shiny silver detail (brilliant for little eyes to pick up). The story concludes with a human family and all of the animal families together. This would make a really lovely present for new parents.

 My Dad Used To Be So Cool – Keith Negley

Flying Eye Books are the publisher to go to if you really love well-illustrated-almost-art picture books. This one from Keith Negley (who also wrote Tough Guys Have Feelings Too) is pretty cool to boot and sums up that moment (your child’s birth) when you pretty much stop being cool. This is a classic Father’s Day present.

 Lost and Found – Oliver Jeffers

When I was expecting, I heard constant rave-reviews of Jeffer’s ‘The Day the Crayons Came Home’ and consequently found out his other incredible work. This is the story of a boy’s friendship with a penguin. A lovely simple narrative with grand images, this is great for younger ones with perhaps a shorter attention span.

 A Year Full Of Stories – Angela McAllister

A folky twist on illustration, this anthology has collected tales from across the globe and has grouped them in months. The stories are short little insights into other cultures with enough variety and intrigue to keep little ones interested. This book looks great not only because of the illustrations- the tactile binding and sizeable hardback make this a really special present.


Others to check out:

The Storm Whale – Benji Davies

Baby Lit Baby Primers – Jennifer Adams & Alison Oliver (We have A Christmas Carol and Pride and Prejudice)

Telephone – Mac Barnett

The Small People Big Dreams series (We have the Maya Angelou, Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart ones and we hope to get the Rosa Parks one too)


Charlotte is mum to a 9 month-old and is currently on maternity leave from her job as a secondary school English teacher. You can find her last post ‘5 Books that you Must Read to your Baby‘. by clicking the link.






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