illustrated books 2022

The Best Picture Books of 2022

By miranda rosbach.

What will you remember about 2022? Did you move or have a baby? Maybe it was the year all your kids started school. For us, it was the year my husband finally built us a home library. And we’ve since spent many wonderful hours reading and playing games in that space.

The older I get, the more I see days meld into months, and in the blink of an eye, an entire year passes by. One thing I hope my children remember once they’ve grown up and left the house is the time we spent snuggling together on the couch or in bed, reading. Building a culture of reading in our home may be one of the most important gifts I can give my girls.

And, while I look forward to compiling “Best Of” book lists every year, it never becomes an easier task. At best, I can narrow it down to about 50 titles published in any given year — and that’s being fairly selective. Which is to say this list of the best picture books of 2022 is a bookish delight. It’s filled with stories and pages to return to again and again. Now, get reading!

The Year We Learned to Fly

The Year We Learned to Fly

by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

This wonderfully immersive book celebrates liberation and Black joy. A grandmother encourages her grandchildren (who are stuck inside) to close their eyes and breathe. They enter their imaginations and soar over the city abloom with flowers. Throughout moments of boredom, the children’s grandmother instructs them to free their minds, lift their arms, and understand the freedom of mindset.

Always with You, Always with Me

Always with You, Always with Me

by Kelly Rowland and Jessica McKay, illustrated by Fanny Liem

A young boy awakes on Monday morning, his mother already up and ready for the day. When he remembers the weekend is over and his mother has to work, he is crestfallen. With a repeated mantra, his mother tells him to look for traces of her during the day. Throughout the week, the mother and boy notice small things that remind them of each other. It’s a refreshing look at the work/life balance experienced by many modern families.

This Story Is Not About a Kitten

This Story Is Not About a Kitten

by Randall de Sève, illustrated by Carson Ellis

A woman walking her dog doesn’t hear a kitten, scared and alone. But the dog does. And neighbors also notice. Some offer food, others provide shelter, and suddenly, a community is involved in caring for one creature, the kitten — whom the story is not about. This cumulative tale leads to a heartfelt end, rendered more meaningful by Ellis’s empathic illustrations.


by Sam Usher

A boy and his granddad have a few errands to run. First, the optometrist, followed by a visit to the library and hardware store. Back home, they plot and measure, and after a long while, the result is a perfectly fashioned sled. Outside, the two slosh through snow and spot a sign for a lost dog. They search for her but must seek cover from a storm, only to discover that a pack of wild wolves rescued her. It’s another charming story from one of our favorite author/illustrators.

Shu Lin’s Grandpa

Shu Lin’s Grandpa

by Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Yu Rong

Shu Lin is new at school and doesn’t speak English well, making it difficult to make friends. One day, Shu Lin’s grandfather comes to school and shares his intricate drawings with the class. Afterward, the children create a massive portrait as Shu Lin shows them how to hold a brush and make dragon scales. With an inclusive message and Asian-inspired illustrations, this picture book is truly a work of art.

Our Day of the Dead Celebration

Our Day of the Dead Celebration

by Ana Aranda

Two sisters prepare for Día de los Muertos . They gather bright marigolds and sugar skulls and begin cooking for the festive celebration. One girl plays the accordion that belonged to her great-grandfather. The smell of almond cookies will lure a departed uncle’s spirit. Throughout the day, the family prepares for more relatives (both living and dead) to arrive. When Abuelita comes, the children pepper her with questions, relishing the bits and pieces of their family history. This is a vibrant tale of keeping ancestors alive through memories, food, and tradition.

Come On In

by Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Sabine Timm

The narrator invites Lemon into a house filled with assorted objects. Will they find the party inside? What kind of party will it be? There are cats wearing boots, fruits dressed in suits, pigeons named Fred, and a loaf of good bread. The real joy in this rhyming tale is searching out all the hidden objects scattered throughout the book. Plus, it will get your creative crafting juices flowing.

Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf

Too Many Pigs and One Big Bad Wolf

by Davide Cali, illustrated by Marianna Balducci

What starts as a familiar story ends within seconds. The unsatisfied reader begs for more, and the story begins again — with one additional pig. However, the impatient narrator (perhaps the wolf?) only wants to eat the pigs and isn’t interested in elaborating on details or a plot. With the number of pigs rising on each page, this off-the-wall counting book uses varying text colors and bright artwork to captivate readers.

That’s Not My Name!

That’s Not My Name!

by Anoosha Syed

Mirha (MIR-ha) is eager to start school, but when she introduces herself to the class, none of her fellow students can pronounce her name. Even teachers say it wrong. Too shy to speak up, Mirha goes home disappointed. She asks her mother about changing her name to something easier, but gets reminded of what her name means and how proud she should be to have it. For anyone who has ever felt different, this book reminds readers to lean into the power of being yourself.

A Gift for Nana

A Gift for Nana

by Lane Smith

Rabbit is on a quest to find the perfect gift for his Nana. With directions from a crow, Rabbit sets off on his journey. He meets many helpful animals and landmarks who each have gift ideas for Nana. At last, Rabbit locates the perfect gift (a joyfully predictable carrot), which Nana loves because it came from him. This tender tale makes a thoughtful gift for a beloved grandparent.

Namaste Is a Greeting

Namaste Is a Greeting

by Suma Subramaniam, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat

A young girl looks out the window and greets her elderly neighbor. She smiles at a dog and bows as a street vendor hands her a delicious drink. Namaste is not only a yoga pose; it is a continued practice, a leaning into silencing one’s mind and finding peace. Namaste notices joy in the world and knows that love exists even in difficult moments. Mostly, Namaste allows us to recognize and honor the divine in ourselves and others.

Busy Betty

by Reese Witherspoon, illustrated by Xindi Yan

Betty is a girl who runs a mile a minute! In this story, she tries to bathe her smelly dog but makes a big mess instead. Kids and adults will love this spirited picture book from Reese Witherspoon that embraces hyperactive kids.

The Little Book of Joy

The Little Book of Joy

by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, illustrated by Rafael López

Two boys grow up in different parts of the world. Each one longs for a friend, wondering if they’ll always be sad and lonely. But in the stillness and quiet, the boys notice small wonders — a colorful bird flitting by or the touch of morning sunlight tingling toes. This affirming book is an ode to manifesting joy, illustrated with jubilant images and a touch of magic on every page.

All Are Neighbors

All Are Neighbors

by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

What is a community? A bustling urban city center shows families getting up in the morning. Some head off to work, while others stay home. Young and old walk down the street, each with a friendly face to greet. Faces of all colors and bodies of all abilities appear in this sequel to All Are Welcome . While light on text, this inclusive rhyming tale delivers an impactful message.

The Path

by Bob Staake

A young child sets out on a well-worn path of those who have gone before. At first, the smooth trail winds through beautiful scenery. But when the path becomes rugged and splits in two, what is a young traveler to do? A story of choice and perseverance, this book is an excellent example of why we can never resist a book by Bob Staake.

The Blur

by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

A baby is born with an extraordinary dose of superhuman powers. The power to scream loudly, take up space, and freeze time. From learning to walk to playing the piano, moments pass, and years fly by. Perhaps the best visual representation of the oft-repeated phrase, “It goes by so fast,” this book will tug on your heartstrings. It makes a beautiful graduation gift for new adults.

Standing in the Need of Prayer

Standing in the Need of Prayer

by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison

An enslaved individual in shackles raises petitions for mercy and grace. A preacher stands at the pulpit, a scar down his face, offering prayers. Men and women who helped with Emancipation and the Great Migration of Black people stand in need. Each offering prayers and pleading for their needs. With two pages of references expounding on historical individuals, you won’t forget this powerful retelling of the classic spiritual.

Blue Bison Needs a Haircut

Blue Bison Needs a Haircut

by Scott Rothman, illustrated by Pete Oswald

Shaggy Blue Bison needs a trim. But his barber shop is closed. So are the supermarket and taco stand. In fact, everything is closed. Undeterred, Blue Bison pays his barber a visit at his house, hoping to strike a bargain, which doesn’t work out as planned. Even though his younger sister offers to cut his hair, Blue Bison declines. That is, until she secretly cuts his hair in his sleep. With laugh-out-loud moments, this book quickly became a favorite.

Set Sail for Pancakes

Set Sail for Pancakes

by Tim Kleyn

Margot and Grandpa awake one morning with a hankering for pancakes. However, they are out of eggs, milk, and flour. Together, they set off in their mighty vessel, Beluga Blue , and traverse the sea, going to various islands to gather supplies. When a storm dampens their pancake mission, they drop anchor and wait out the weather. This tasty read is perfect for a lazy weekend brunch and includes a recipe at the back of the book.


by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, illustrated by Daniel Minter

It’s the color of the sky and ocean, but one that can’t be contained. How did blue come into being? For centuries, people prized it for its rarity. Legends say the color connects humans to gods and wards off evil spirits. But extracting blue from rocks, snails, and leaves was arduous work. So how did blue become so universally beloved, and how does one color evoke so much emotion? This nonfiction picture book is ideal for grade schoolers.

Night Lunch

Night Lunch

by Eric Fan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling

A horse-drawn cart rolls in as the midnight moon rises high. Nocturnal creatures shuffle on the scene while Owl clangs pots and spoons. A hot mince pie for Fox and a sandwich for Badger. Butter and biscuits for raccoon and skunk and pudding for little possums. And at the end, a shuddering mouse. What’s an owl chef to do? This lovely book from one of the famed Fan brothers brims with magic.

Hattie Harmony: Worry Detective

Hattie Harmony: Worry Detective

by Elizabeth Olsen and Robbie Arnett, illustrated by Marissa Valdez

Worry, worry, go away! There’s no time for you today! Hattie Harmony is the unsung hero of Wildwood Elementary. Hattie helps her classmates deal with everyday worries using her tool belt of handy supplies.

Just Help!

by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

With the question, “Who will you help today?” Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor inspires readers to actively support their community. Her story provides a snapshot of the life of a young girl who, along with her friends, demonstrates various ways to make a positive impact.

Why Not You?

Why Not You?

by Ciara and Russell Wilson with JaNay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Jessica Gibson

Emboldening text encourages children to follow their dreams in this uplifting new story from celebrity popstar Ciara and pro quarterback Russell Wilson. With its inclusive illustrations and affirming words, little readers will be ready to conquer any obstacle that comes their way.

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illustrated books 2022

20 Must-read Picture Books of 2022

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Alison Doherty

Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

View All posts by Alison Doherty

Just like every year, 2022 picture books are inspiring, informative, silly, joyful, emotional, and full of big messages. Through a mixture of words and beautiful illustrations, they tell big stories that will become beloved by many young (and older) readers today. And more and more diverse stories are being published every year. But the only way for this to keep happening is to support contemporary picture books along with our favorite illustrated classics (like Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle). I love the picture books I remember from my childhood so much. But since I started sharing more current picture books with my students and the young readers in my life, I realized that there are so many amazing, important stories that are being published today. I want to support these books as well as my old favorites.

2022 picture books had a big range. There are stories about Native American traditions, making Sunday pancakes, an elephant shipwrecked on a small island, and explorations of subjects from concrete to the Monterey Bay to the history of pizza! Some 2022 picture books will make readers giggle and laugh with silly delight. And others will make readers think about how to handle big emotions. Some 2022 picture books are full of fascinating facts. And others preserve our memory of important events in history. There were so many amazing, beautiful picture books published in 2022. But here are 20 of my favorite picture books from this year, that I classify as must-reads.

Cover of Berry Song by Goade

Berry Song by Michaela Goade

With lyrical words and dreamlike, atmospheric writing, this picture book about the seasonal berry-picking of the Tlingit people in Sheet’ká, Alaska is a delight! Throughout the year a grandmother and her granddaughter take gifts from the Earth while singing songs to help show their gratitude, and keep the bears away while they are berry-picking. This is a beautiful story about gratitude and appreciating the Earth. It is also an amazing way to learn more about the Tlingit culture, especially through a poignant author’s note at the end of the book.

Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky Book Cover

Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, illustrated by Daniel Minter

This book has a long title and explores an even longer history of the color blue. It goes over all the ways blue pigment has been made throughout centuries, from snails in Eurasia to crushed sapphires in Afghanistan to indigo grown and harvested on American plantations by enslaved African people. The gorgeous illustrations showing a variety of blue tones augments the fascinating history of one of the world’s most popular and sought out colors.

Concrete From the Ground Up Book Cover

Concrete: From the Ground Up by Larissa Theule, illustrated by Steve Light

Calling all construction-obsessed young readers! This picture book takes a fairly mundane topic and breathes life into it. From the creation of concrete through the many applications of the material in the world around us, this nonfiction picture book dives deep into the subject. Not only is the engineering and science of concrete explored, but also the building and architectural history. Concrete is so ubiquitous, it’s easy not to think too much about it. But reading this beautifully-illustrated, informative picture book will change that for readers.

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Does a bulldozer have a butt book cover

Does a Bulldozer Have a Butt? by Derick Wilder, illustrated by K-Fai Steele

This book pitches itself as Dr. Seuss meets Everyone Poops . I found that to be a pretty apt description. This rhyming story follows a precious child walking to school with their father asking one question over and over and over again: does it have a butt? From scarecrows to crayons and sheep to bulldozers, they debate what does and doesn’t have a butt. A hilarious story that will have younger readers dissolving into laughter, but one that never devolves into gross out humor. Prepare for a lot of giggle breaks while you’re reading this one!

Elephant Island Book Cover

Elephant Island by Leo Timmers

When Elephant gets ship wrecked, he ends up on an island that’s comically small. One by one, his friends come to try to rescue him. And one by one their vessels are destroyed as Elephant tries to escape. But instead of giving up, Elephant and his friends use the wreckage to expand the tiny island so there is enough room for all of them to live there. Soon, there is even a ferris wheel and a waffle maker. Why would they ever want to leave? There are important messages about perseverance and friendship in this picture book. But the physical comedy portrayed through the illustrations is what will truly delight readers.

feathers together book cover

Feathers Together by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso

Inspired by a pair of real-life birds, Klepetan and Malena are storks who do everything together. Even when Malena is injured and must heal under the care of a helpful human, they find ways to stay with each other. But when fall comes, it’s time for Klepetan to leave Croatia and migrate to South Africa. Malena is still too injured to make the journey. The two storks must try to find a way to remain close while being separated for the first time.

If You Laugh I'm Starting This Book Over Book Cover

If You Laugh, I’m Starting This Book Over by Chris Harris, illustrated by Serge Bloch

If you want a book guaranteed to fill the room with zany, chaotic absurdity, then this is definitely the right picture book to read. It breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the readers, in the same vein as The Book With No Pictures or There’s a Monster at the End of this Book (one of my personal favorites). By demanding that readers don’t laugh but then filling each page with silly art, funny names, and hilarious concepts, the book practically ensures giggles. This might not be a favorite for bedtime, but it makes an incredibly fun read-aloud.

Book Cover for I Love My Body Because

I Love My Body Because by Shelly Anand and Nomi Ellenson, illustrated by Erika Rodriguez Medina 

There are so many negative messages kids (and adults) receive about their bodies. This book combats those pervasive cultural messages with a celebration of all bodies. It discusses different ways we can show love to our bodies like playing, hygiene, and friendship. It also acknowledges that sometimes our bodies don’t feel good. The book also isn’t just about accepting and loving our own bodies. It also emphasizes loving and respecting children with bodies that are different from ours. This is represented through a variety of races, genders, disabilities, body sizes, hair types, religious garments, birthmarks, and more. The sheer amount of diverse representation within this book is a triumph that supports its core message.

I'm A Unicorn Book Cover

I’m a Unicorn by Helen Yoon

Unicorn stories are plentiful in the picture book world. But the kids I know are still enchanted by them. And this unique, humorous take definitely stands out. A one horned calf, perhaps feeling self-conscious about being different from the other cows, decides they are a unicorn after reading about the magical creatures in a book. After all they have just one horn. And even if they don’t poop rainbows or shimmer under the moonlight, they still want to feel like they belong. A chance run in with some “real” unicorns will decide the issue one way or another. Along with some big laughs (did I mention the rainbow poop?) this book has a powerful message of openness and acceptance of differences.

Cover of Knight Owl by Denise

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise

Owl dreams of becoming a knight one day, even though he’s a bird and a tiny one at that. With fun medieval details and lots of humor, the story shows him finally getting his chance when lots of knights go missing. After knight school, where he is adorably too small to wield weapons and has trouble staying awake in the daytime, he’s assigned to the night watch. Other human knights underestimate him. But his small size and cleverness save the day when a dragon attacks one night.

The Line in the Sand Book Cover

The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam

This wordless picture book is beautifully-illustrated and has an important message. Panels show a monster dragging a stick down the beach and creating a line in the sand. A group of other monsters who were playing on the beach now wonder what this line that divides them into different sections means. They debate if they can cross the line and even physically stop each other from doing so. But the arrival of a bee leads to the line being erased and their friendship restored. The metaphor inherent in this story is subtle, but a great way to start meaningful conversations with adult guidance.

Love in the Library Book Cover

Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Yas Imamura

This beautiful love story is intriguing for children and adult readers. It is based on the the true love story of the author’s grandparents who met and fell in love in the library of a Japanese Internment Camp during WWII. The story shows the extreme injustice of this time in American history where just being Japanese American became a crime. But it also shows the power of books to get people through unimaginably hard times and the optimism of finding love in the middle of extreme hardship.

Luli and the Language of Tea book cover

Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Hyewon Yum

This multicultural book takes place in a kindergarten English as a second language class. To combat the quiet classroom, 5 year old Luli decides to host a tea party. She calls the yummy, hot drink “Chá!” and her classmates respond with the words for tea in their languages ranging from Russian to Arabic to Swahili. While they all speak different languages and many come from different countries, tea is something they can all recognize and enjoy.

Cover of Magnolia Flower by Hurston

Magnolia Flower by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Loveis Wise

In this beautiful picture book, Kendi adapts a short story Hurston wrote in 1925 to make it accessible to young readers. In the book a river tells a story to a brook about a young Afro-Indigenous girl named Magnolia Flower. She is the beloved daughter of an escaped enslaved person and a Cherokee woman who escaped the Trail of Tears. She craves the freedom to love whoever she wants and makes the brave choice to follow her heart. The story is gripping and a unique love story to see in a picture book. And notes at the end give context to the elements of Black folklore preserved in this adaptation and the importance of stories showing Black and Native resistance from American History.

the cover of Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by LaCour

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

The young girl in this story loves being sandwiched between her two mothers. When Mommy has to go on a work trip, she stays with Mama who takes care of her. But it’s still hard for the girl and for Mommy to be apart from each other. Luckily, at the end of the week there is a happy reunion of the trio. Even though there are a few weird feelings at first when Mommy returns, eventually things feel just right again.

Cover of Over and Under the Waves by Messner

Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

This book was always going to be a slam dunk for me. Firstly, because I love Kate Messner and Christopher Neal’s previous Over and Under picture books. And secondly, because I grew up near Monterey Bay, where this book is set. Stunning illustrations mixed with scientific information about the biodiversity and interdependence of ecosystems. From sea kelp to sardines and whales to wolf eels, this book covers so many interesting organisms!

Book Cover for Pizza a Slice of History

Pizza!: A Slice of History by Greg Pizzoli

A nonfiction picture book on the history of pizza narrated by an adorable mouse! From just the premise alone, I knew I’d fall in love with this picture book. There are theories on where and when pizza was first invented, including a fanciful one featuring Queen Margartia. The book also includes fun facts about how pizza is eaten in different parts of the world, like how green peas are a common pizza topping in Brazil. Vivid and bright illustrations accompany this lively text. This is a longer picture book, coming in at 56 pages. But for pizza loving young readers, the pages will fly by.

Sunday Pancakes Book Cover

Sunday Pancakes by Maya Tatsukawa

Cat wants to make Sunday pancakes, but realizes they don’t have any eggs or milk. To get these must-have ingredients, Cat invites Rabbit and Bear to join the breakfast making fun. Luckily, together they have everything they need to make a steaming, tall stack of pancakes. Even if there are a few mistakes made along the way, making breakfast together is the most delicious way to spend a Sunday morning.

The Worst Teddy Ever Book Cover

The Worst Teddy Ever by Marcelo Verdad

Noa wonders why Teddy is always so tired. Teddy’s eyes are always in the same sleepy curve. And Noa is getting frustrated that Teddy never has enough energy to play. But it turns out there is a reason Teddy is so sleepy. He spends his nights protecting Noa from unwanted visitors like a tickle monster and the Boogeyman. Noa doesn’t know about Teddy’s nightly service in helping him sleep. But readers will have so much fun being let in on this secret and appreciating Teddy for all the work he does. There is also a Spanish language version of the picture book, El peor Teddy del mundo , for interested readers!

Cover of The Year We Learned to Fly

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

A brother and sister learn to fight boredom by following their grandmother’s advice to use their imaginations. Now, sibling bickering and gray days can be solved with their powerful, colorful imaginations. This contrast between their internal world and the drab external conditions are portrayed brilliantly through illustrations. Particularly poignant is the grandmother’s descriptions on how she learned to use her imagination to fly from her ancestors who used the same ability from her ancestors who were forcibly brought to America and enslaved.

I hope you enjoy at least one of these 2022 picture books as much as I have. For more reading ideas, take a gander at the best children’s books of 2022 or the 20 must-read picture books from 2021.

illustrated books 2022

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November 10, 2022 by Travis Jonker

Gallery: NYT Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2022

November 10, 2022 by Travis Jonker   1 comments


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The 2022 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books were just announced , and it’s a great group of books. I’m also feeling pretty good about my predictions , going three for ten (with another three in the “also keep an eye out for these books” section at the bottom).

Let’s have a look at the list.


illustrated books 2022

Written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

illustrated books 2022


Written by eric fan. illustrated by dena seiferling..

illustrated books 2022


Written by alice faye duncan. illustrated by chris raschka..

illustrated books 2022

Written by Davide Cali. Illustrated by Monica Barengo.

illustrated books 2022


Written by stephen barr. illustrated by gracey zhang..

illustrated books 2022


Written and illustrated by rilla alexander.

illustrated books 2022


Written and illustrated by zahra marwan.

illustrated books 2022


Written by gianni rodari. illustrated by beatrice alemagna. translated from the italian by antony shugaar..

illustrated books 2022


Written by kjersti annesdatter skomsvold. illustrated by mari kanstad johnsen. translated from the norwegian by kari dickson..

illustrated books 2022


Written by buffy sainte-marie. illustrated by julie flett..

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.

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November 11, 2022 at 1:09 pm

You did GREAT on your predictions!

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illustrated books 2022

Impeccable art and lyrical and child-friendly text set these 27 titles apart from everything else we read this year.


illustrated books 2022

Behar, Ruth. Tía Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey. illus. by Devon Holzwarth. Knopf. ISBN  ‎9780593172414. K-Gr 3 –This powerful intergenerational story about heritage and hope is enhanced by stunning art; a must for all libraries, and remarkable in every way.

Blackall, Sophie. Farmhouse. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316528948. PreS-Gr 2 –Blackall worked in mixed-media collage using items from a 19th-century farmhouse to recreate her vision of the true lives of its large family; it’s a one-of-a-kind, exquisite glimpse of land once held by Indigenous people, then by immigrants, and then toppled and very nearly returned to nature itself. Burningham, John & Bill Salaman. Air Miles. illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536223347. PreS-Gr 2 –Adults notice that the text never uses the word “death.” Very young children notice that Miles, an old dog, is about to lean into his very best adventure. Slightly older children grasp all of it. Heartbreaking and breathtaking, this is the very best book for the late Burningham to leave in his wake. Eady, Antwan. Nigel and the Moon . illus. by Gracey Zhang. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. ISBN 9780063056282. PreS-Gr 3 –There is a high contrast in most children’s lives between the jobs they see others performing and the aspirations they have for themselves. Eady infuses an entire person with this wistfulness: Nigel, whose nights are full of mighty dreams and whose days are more prosaic. Zhang’s exceptional images and reassurances from parents cast away anxiety and ostracism. Goade, Michaela. Berry Song. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316494175. PreS-Gr 2 –A botanical guide to bright berries, an intergenerational journey in a wintry setting, an invitation to explore Tlingit values, or simply a beautiful picture book—there are so many reasons to sing this berry song while uncovering the lyrical elements of the natural landscape.

illustrated books 2022

Gopal, Jyoti Rajan. My Paati’s Saris. illus. by Art Twink. Penguin/Kokila. ISBN 9780593324608. K-Gr 3 –While a grandmother pulls sari after sari from an elaborate wardrobe, glorious fabrics unwind, one more gorgeous than the last; also unwinding is a boy’s dreams of wrapping himself in the sari and allowing himself to express himself in whatever way he wishes. Text and art create a fever dream of color, pattern, and texture as the child’s dream comes true. Hare, John. Field Trip to Volcano Island. Holiday House/Margaret Ferguson. ISBN 9780823450428. K-Gr 4 –The latest of Hare’s wordless tales follows a winning formula for a grand adventure that tucks in some SEL and aliens, too. The ingenious compositions demand repeat viewings; book-phobics turn into book-lovers with details that level the literacy playing field. Comedic timing? Perfect. Jokes? Guaranteed giggles. Universal, even interstellar, appeal. Kim, Erica. Kimchi, Kimchi Every Day. Soaring Kite. ISBN 9781953859273. PreS-Gr 3 –The Korean snack, side dish, and condiment gets its own book as a young narrator explains in a crescendo of excitement why she loves it, needs it, craves it; and Kim convinces readers in no time to join in. Suggestions on how to add kimchi to hamburgers and French fries further delight. Kim, Jihyun. The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky. Floris. ISBN 9781782507420. PreS-Gr 1 –In an era of screens and scrolling, this wordless picture book pays homage to the wonder beyond, in nature. It’s a call to pause, slow down, and enjoy time. The author-illustrator uses writing ink to draw and paint, and each spread is a masterpiece, occasionally resembling photographs more than illustration. Leisurely and lovely—a break from regular programming. Lại, Thanhhà. Hundred Years of Happiness. illus. by Nguyên Quang & Kim Liên. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780063026926. K-Gr 3 –At once a lifelong love story between husband and wife, a tribute to the sweetness of multigenerational connections, and a celebration of Vietnamese cultural traditions and cuisine, this title should find a home in every collection.

illustrated books 2022

Macleod, Mrs. & Mr. How to Eat a Book. Union Square & Co. ISBN 9781454945444. K-Gr 3 –The MacLeods have a distinct view on reading, and they are not afraid to tear up some tropes to put it across. This delightful book will have children staging their own versions of what it takes to know a book inside out, once cousins Sheila, Gerald, and Geraldine Grunion have shown them the way. Inventive fun. Mancillas, Mónica. Mariana and Her Familia . illus. by Erika Meza. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. ISBN 9780062962461. K-Gr 2 –For every child who has ever had the jitters from facing family, a new environment, a new language, or all of those, Mancillas creates the most loving gathering ever. The challenges of families that are culturally and geographically distant are nothing compared to love. Meza’s festive illustrations invite everyone in for a closer look. Marcero, Deborah. Out of a Jar. Putnam. ISBN 9780593326374. PreS-Gr 2 –The sequel to In a Jar finds the hero with more emotional extremes than he knows what to do with, and his solution—to shove every one of them into jars—is creating an arsenal of small bombs. Marcero offers a new spin on exploring one’s emotions, not locking them away, and promotes the importance of sharing them instead. Moore, David Barclay. Carrimebac, the Town That Walked. illus. by John Holyfield. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536213690. Gr 2-5 –Merging history and magic, this reads like a unique folktale. The KKK tries to intimidate them, but the residents won’t have it, and the town just—leaves. A text that resonates, and scenes that seem to rumble, this book is one for the ages.

illustrated books 2022

Pumphrey, Jarrett & Jerome Pumphrey. Somewhere in the Bayou. Norton. ISBN 9781324015932. K-Gr 2 –Four swamp creatures, beset with curiosity, consider the best route around an enormous tail—possibly attached to a mouth with large teeth—in front of them. Eccentric charm, a bold graphic style, and a side-splitting punch line, the Pumphreys know how to tickle a child’s funny bone. A tale to reread and repeat. Raúl the Third. My Party, Mi Fiesta: A Coco Rocho Book.  illus. by Raúl the Third & Elaine Bay. HarperCollins/Versify. ISBN 9780358394723. Baby-Toddler –When a board book busts out of its format and becomes a party, Raúl the Third’s in town, reinventing the game. Coco Rocho welcomes readers and lets them know that this fiesta is as much for them as it is for him. Bilingual, funny, and 100 percent refreshing. Savage, Stephen. Moonlight. Holiday House/Neal Porter. ISBN 9780 823450848. PreS-Gr 1 –“Something is on the move” are the potent opening words of this story, which begins with a bit of mystery; offering one red herring after another, Savage’s linocuts render a moody nightscape where almost anything can happen—most nights. Splendid and tranquil. Sirdeshpande, Rashmi. Dadaji’s Paintbrush. illus. by Ruchi Mhasane. Levine Querido. ISBN 9781646141722. K-Gr 3 –Subtle and poetic in its treatment of death, this book stands out for the depth of its wise messages and its gentle, evocative art. The story of a boy taking on his dadaji’s artistry is subtle; no one has been replaced as much as a continuation has been achieved.

illustrated books 2022

Snyder, Laurel. Endlessly Ever After: Pick YOUR Path to Countless Fairy Tale Endings! illus. by Dan Santat. Chronicle. ISBN 9781452144825. PreS-Gr 3 –Fairy tales can be defined by the fact that children know how they end—but not with this book! Snyder directs one plot after another, leaving choices in the hands of adventurous readers. Santat runs amok with the concept, gleefully providing humorous illustrations on every page. Sorell, Traci. Powwow Day. illus. by Madelyn Goodnight. Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580899482. PreS-Gr 3 –With a light touch, Sorell lets readers know that her heroine has been through an illness and she is still weak. But in this tender and inspiring view of Indigenous traditions, there is healing and redemption for all. A deeply affecting story that will resonate. Stead, Philip C. Every Dog in the Neighborhood. illus. by Matthew Cordell. Holiday House/Neal Porter. ISBN 9780823444274. K-Gr 3 –This winsome book features Louis and his grandmother; he wants to make the case for dog ownership and she has her eyes on an empty lot. Stead and Cordell, separate masters, are co-conspirators on a secret civics lesson on how to get stuff done. We almost filed it under nonfiction. A great addition to any shelf. Tarnowska, Wafa’. Nour’s Secret Library . illus. by Vali Mintzi. Barefoot. ISBN 9781646862917. Gr 1-4 –Damascus, once a city of blooming roses, cherries, and apricots, becomes destroyed by war in this beautiful and poignant coming-of-age book. Children taking shelter with their families find hope and resilience that shines through even the worst of situations. Tokuda-Hall, Maggie. Love in the Library. illus. by Yas Imamura. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536204308. Gr 1-4 –Love is a miracle that can grow in the most unlikely of places. Based on true events, this is a gentle story about finding love and a future during bleak internment in a Japanese camp; though the main characters are older, the draw of this book is for all ages.

illustrated books 2022

Voss, Jonathan D. The Wishing Balloons. Holt. ISBN 9781250317377. Gr 1-5 –For the SEL shelves, a lesson on communication, or a story on empathy, this book breaks new ground. Just as its painterly illustrative style demands that readers squint, pay attention, and peer at the pages to see better, Dot has to think anew about friendship when a boy, Albert, moves in next door. The book’s rewards grow with rereadings. Williams, Alicia D. The Talk. illus. by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu. S. & S./Atheneum. ISBN 9781534495296. K-Gr 2 –To keep a child safe, do parents have to end childhood innocence? Williams confronts this topic head on, exploring the pain of having the “talk” with young Black boys to help them navigate the existing evils of racism. Heartfelt and heartbreaking, a necessary book. Wong-kalu, Hinaleimoana & others. Kapaemahu. illus. by Daniel Sousa. Penguin/Kokila. ISBN 9780593530061. Gr 2-5 –A Hawaiian legend about the four healing stones found on Waikiki Beach and their significance in Pacific Islander lore. Sousa’s paintings seem carved from light and granite, giving the story a beautiful heft and worth from its opening pages. Woodson, Jacqueline. The World Belonged to Us. illus. by Leo Espinosa. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen. ISBN 9780399545498. Gr 2-6 –A special book for sharing, parent and child, with a gorgeous depiction of summer in a Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1970s. Woodson and Espinosa remember everything and make it look like an amusement park, when it’s really “just” an urban cityscape from a simpler time.

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Imagination Soup

The Best Picture Books of 2022

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My picks for the best picture books of 2022 range from quirky to funny to poignant, with exceptional writing, storytelling, and illustrations. Not only that, these picture books are ones that your children will want to reread multiple times.

Since picture books are meant to be read aloud to kids. If a picture book doesn’t resonate with a child, you’ll know it immediately. So here are my favorite, the best of the best picture books from 2022 that resonate with kids and adults, too.

Browse all picture book reviews from 2022 here .

The Best Picture Books of 2022


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Melissa Taylor, MA, is the creator of Imagination Soup. She's a mother, former teacher & literacy trainer, and freelance education writer. She writes Imagination Soup and freelances for publications online and in print, including Penguin Random House's Brightly website, USA Today Health, Adobe Education, Colorado Parent, and Parenting. She is passionate about matching kids with books that they'll love.

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The Best Books of 2022

This Year's Must-Reads


The ten best children’s books of 2022.

This year’s top titles include a fairy-tale remake, a clever counting book and a survey of architectural wonders the world over

Megan Gambino

Megan Gambino

Senior Editor


My two young girls, ages 5 and 8, are sponges when it comes to mind-blowing facts. They just love to be enveloped in new worlds, and I love nothing more than to see the looks on their faces when they are absorbing new information. In my 15 years at Smithsonian , I’ve learned my own share of incredible tidbits that piqued the curiosity of my kids, or really anyone with their sense of wonder about the world. Like that less time separates us from Tyrannosaurus rex than separated T. rex from Stegosaurus . (Thanks to our dinosaur correspondent Riley Black for that one.) Or, for the history-minded reader, that Cleopatra’s reign is closer to today than it is to when the Great Pyramids were built.

When I tell them these facts, and so many more, I can see their wheels spinning. My youngest is on the cusp of learning to read—a super exciting milestone, but I have some fear creeping in that soon they will no longer want me to read books aloud. I never want that day to come.

The children’s books I’ve selected as this year’s best are full of fun facts about everything from architecture to animal behavior. Most important, though, their authors and illustrators seem to get how kids’ minds work: They are always hungry to learn more, especially when they are being entertained.

Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall

In 2018, author-illustrator Sophie Blackall and her husband, playwright Ed Schmidt, bought a 21-acre abandoned dairy farm in New York’s Catskills and turned the property into Milkwood , a pastoral retreat for children’s book writers and illustrators. Doing so required leveling a dilapidated 19th-century farmhouse on the site, so to first honor the building, Blackall researched the home’s history. A family of 14, with descendants still in the area, had lived there during the Great Depression. So many artifacts of their lives—wallpaper, curtains, schoolbooks, handmade dresses—still rested in the farmhouse. Blackall salvaged them, using bits and pieces to illustrate in collage form her new book, Farmhouse . It was her hope to “make the experience of reading this book feel as close as possible to the experience of being in the farmhouse,” the author shares in an interview . Page by page, readers peer into the house, seeing and hearing about the growing-up and mischief that happened inside its walls, as if they are looking into a dollhouse.

The book’s backstory and craftsmanship shine more so than the text, which reads in one long sentence. Apparently, Blackall composed it on a long drive, memorizing each phrase until she arrived at her destination hours away and recorded it on her phone. “I like the idea that I can say to a kid, do you want to hear a story? It’s only one sentence long,” she says in the interview. But for me, the rolling sentence mimics the way that life moves gently on. (Recommended ages: 3+)

Preview thumbnail for 'Farmhouse

Step inside the dollhouse-like interior of Farmhouse and relish in the daily life of the family that lives there, rendered in impeccable, thrilling detail.

Bedtime for Bo by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold

Goodnight books are a category in and of their own, and Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold’s Bedtime for Bo tops my favorites for this year. Sarah Shun-lien Bynum puts it best in her review in the New York Times : “This book offers a master class in how to shepherd a rambunctious child to bed with patience, creativity and good humor.”

Originally published in Norway and translated into English by Kari Dickson, the story follows Bo’s mom, patient as a saint, as she joins in her son’s imaginary play. ( Maybe some of that patience will rub off in the reading? ) She uses Bo’s stall tactics—pretending to be a parrot, a bear, a walrus and a giraffe—to teach him about animal behavior, while keeping him moving through the bedtime march of bathing, brushing his teeth and getting tucked into bed. Mari Kanstad Johnsen’s illustrations, which earned the New York Times /New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award, have a chaotic feel to them that matches the messiness of the scene and of life with young kids in general. Thanks for keeping it real, Johnsen, with the loose laundry, cluttered surfaces and spider webs.

Meghan Cox Gurdon at the Wall Street Journal thinks Bedtime for Bo is “as much fun to imitate as it is to read.” Bynum is hopeful it will help the nighttime routine, too. “Imagine it,” she writes, “Bedtime as not a battle but a madcap collaboration!” (Recommended ages: 3 to 6)

Preview thumbnail for 'Bedtime for Bo

Bedtime for Bo

Stretch like a giraffe and snuggle like a meerkat with Bo and Mommy as they get ready for bed!

Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme by Avery Monsen

Poor Chester van Chime is a welcome playmate to my kindergartener who is learning to rhyme. Author Avery Monsen introduces the protagonist and his problem in the book’s first couplet: “There once was a youngster named Chester van Chime, who woke up one day and forgot how to rhyme.” By the second couplet, though, everything goes awry. “It baffled poor Chester. He felt almost queasy. To match up two sounds, it was always so…” Monsen writes, “…simple for him.” Failed rhyme after failed rhyme will have kids finishing the painfully obvious sentences in what BookPage declares “a guaranteed good time.” Publisher’s Weekly notes that “what starts out as a book about wordplay turns into an inventive and giggly antidote for the bad-day blues.”

Be sure to spend some extra time with each page, because the illustrations by Abby Hanlon are filled with slugs on rugs, a fox in socks and other rhyming pairs. (Recommended ages: 4 to 6)

Preview thumbnail for 'Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme

Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme

From the coauthor of the smash hit All My Friends Are Dead and the creator of the beloved Dory Fantasmagory chapter book series comes a hilarious read aloud about a boy who loses his gift for rhyme.

Luminous: Living Things That Light Up the Night by Julia Kuo

In 2009, I had the privilege of tagging along with Smithsonian biologist Nancy Knowlton as she studied coral reefs off the coast of Bocas del Toro, Panama. There, I witnessed bioluminescence—the first I had seen outside of fireflies—in the form of dinoflagellates, one-celled organisms that light up when agitated in the water. I’d love for my two girls to have such a jaw-dropping experience, but until then, I’ll be reading them Julia Kuo’s Luminous .

The author-illustrator invites readers on an adventure through forests, caves and the deep sea to discover all sorts of creatures—fungi, glowworms, dragonfish, squid and more—that make their own light thanks to chemical reactions in their bodies. The blues and oranges pop on the book’s black pages in a spectacular approximation of what bioluminescence actually looks like. Two layers of text give the reader options, but I wouldn’t opt for just the poetic through line. The additional paragraphs expounding on the plants and animals are too interesting to miss. Did you know that crown jellyfish produce a “burglar alarm” of light when attacked, or that eating a piddock clam can make your hands and mouth glow? (Recommended ages: 4 to 8)

Preview thumbnail for 'Luminous: Living Things That Light Up the Night

Luminous: Living Things That Light Up the Night

From acclaimed author-illustrator Julia Kuo comes a remarkable picture book about bioluminescence, the light made from living things, and its many forms.

Uncle John’s City Garden by Bernette G. Ford

Late author and publishing executive Bernette G. Ford spent her career championing stories with characters of color written and illustrated by people of color. She is best known for Bright Eyes, Brown Skin , which she co-wrote with Cheryl Willis Hudson and which her husband, George Ford, illustrated in 1990. “Bernette’s firm yet gentle editorial touch with the text was brilliant in expressing the pulse of what’s now called Black joy in kidlit,” Hudson told the New York Times in July 2021 after Ford died from lung cancer.

Lucky for us, this year, Holiday House published Ford’s last book, Uncle John’s City Garden , posthumously. In her author’s note, Ford describes the treasure of a book as “an ‘almost’ true story.” That’s because her own Uncle John, like the book’s character, tended an empty lot in Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood in the 1950s. Her book’s narrator may spend the summer with her uncle in the garden, but Ford never did, she writes: “I wished I could have, and now, in this story, I have.”

The perspective that Li’l Sissy, the narrator, offers is relatable to kids. She’s constantly sizing things up—her family members, shovels, the growing plants, and tables at a family barbeque—against herself and other tangible objects. “One of the tomatoes was so big I needed two hands to hold it,” writes Ford, while Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison illustrates the page with the little girl, eyes bigger than her stomach, staring at the outsized fruit. Ford also has a knack for making something that may seem so big and impossible to a child, like building a community garden, possible, by breaking it down into clear, simple steps. She includes a recipe for succotash at the back of the book that may inspire readers to take up gardening themselves, though she uses frozen and canned vegetables to keep things simple.

Kirkus Reviews calls Uncle John’s City Garden “a simple, lovely story about the power of blooming where you are planted.” (Recommended ages: 4 to 8)

Preview thumbnail for 'Uncle John's City Garden

Uncle John's City Garden

How does this city garden grow? With help from L’il Sissy and her siblings—and love, love, love! A celebration of nature, family, and food.

Berry Song by Michaela Goade

Just as her grandmother did when they picked berries together in Sheet’ká, Alaska, author-illustrator Michaela Goade (the first Native American to win a Caldecott Medal) imparts important lessons of her Tlingit culture to readers in her new book, Berry Song . In the story, a grandmother goes berry picking in the forest with her granddaughter, all the while singing “Salmonberry, Cloudberry, Blueberry, Nagoonberry. Huckleberry, Soapberry, Strawberry, Crowberry,” to let “berry—and bear—know we are here.” While the refrain calls to mind Bruce Degen’s classic Jamberry , the message of Berry Song hits much deeper. Goade shows how the Tlingit people speak to the land, care for the land and are part of the land. To the land, which gives so much in return, the story’s characters say gunalchéesh , or “thank you” in the Tlingit language. The book’s endpapers are illustrated with berries labeled in both English and Tlingit—highbush cranberry ( kaxwéix ), lingonberry ( dáxw ), black currant ( kaneilts’ákw ) and more.

In my family, berry picking is a near-sacred ritual, but hopefully others will find Goade’s book as moving as it was for me. (Recommended ages: 4 to 8)

Preview thumbnail for 'Berry Song (Caldecott Honor Book)

Berry Song (Caldecott Honor Book)

Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade's first self-authored picture book is a gorgeous celebration of the land she knows well and the powerful wisdom of elders.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett

Author Mac Barnett takes on the fairy tale, first collected in Norway in 1841, of The Three Billy Goats Gruff . The basic plot likely rings familiar: Three billy goats, often described as brothers, need to cross a bridge, under which lives a hungry troll, to get to a meadow with grass for grazing. The smallest goat convinces the mean troll to wait for his bigger brother to cross, and that one, in turn, persuades him to hold out for the biggest of the three, only for that biggest one to defeat the adversary. Barnett’s version largely sticks to the script, only it’s full of “amusing verbal play,” as Kirkus Reviews puts it, that will have readers “hamming it up.” What provides the most entertainment is the troll’s “unexpected gastronomic sophistication,” explains Publisher’s Weekly . “I love goat! Let me count the ways! Goat Benedict with hollandaise. Goat jerky, jerk goat, curried goat. Goat gravy in a silver boat. A goat flambé with candied yams. A goat clambake, with goat, not clams! On goat I’ll dine, on goat I’ll sup. You little goat, I’ll eat you up!’” the troll rhymes. Kids in your life with thank you for adding this fresh fairy-tale remake to their shelves. And Barnett promises it’s the first in a series. He’s got my attention. (Recommended ages: 4 to 8)

Preview thumbnail for 'The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

A brilliantly crafted, hilarious twist on this beloved classic, The Three Billy Goats Gruff , from renowned, award-winning, and New York Times bestselling duo and picture book pioneers Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen!

Octopuses Have Zero Bones: A Counting Book About Our Amazing World by Anne Richardson

During Covid-19 lockdowns in the spring of 2020, Anne Richardson and her two kids obsessed over numbers. “How many seeds are in an apple, how small are hummingbird eggs, and how many miles away is Saturn?” she writes in her author’s note. They counted and measured, until Richardson realized she had enough facts and figures to fill her debut children’s book, Octopuses Have Zero Bones . With degrees in art history and environmental studies, the senior staffer at San Francisco’s Exploratorium was perfectly suited to deliver an artful romp through math and science. The book works its way from zero to nine, providing three facts for each number. With each number also comes a power of 10 (1 and 10, 2 and 200, 3 and 3,000), with three bonus facts about it.

Kids stump the best of us with their questions, but Richardson’s clever counting book is prepared for the most inquisitive readers, bringing answers to fresh questions they may not even have thought to ask. Like, how fast does a black bear’s heart beat? The answer: 3,000 times every hour during much of the year. (Recommended ages: 6 to 9)

Preview thumbnail for 'Octopuses Have Zero Bones: A Counting Book About Our Amazing World

Octopuses Have Zero Bones: A Counting Book About Our Amazing World

An unconventional, engaging, and delightful counting book for curious minds that playfully uses numbers as an entry-point to discover the amazing, diverse, fact-filled world of wonders all around us.

How Was That Built? The Stories Behind Awesome Structures by Roma Agrawal

Structural engineer Roma Agrawal wrote Built for adults in 2018, and now, four years later, she’s adapted that same concept, explaining how the world’s greatest architectural wonders were made to a younger audience. In her new release, How Was That Built? , she examines the ingenuity behind structures the world over—from the Shard in London, which she helped design, to the Pantheon in Rome, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Halley VI Research Station in Antarctica.

I like a big book that allows me to make a short selection to read at bedtime, and this one has so many entry points. How Was That Built? contains illustrations of skyscrapers, cathedrals, bridges, dams and more, all annotated with fun factoids. Agrawal also spotlights innovators and provides “Try It at Home” experiments that demonstrate the forces that act on built structures. The book is perfect for Lego-obsessed fort builders in your life who spent their toddler years hovering near construction sites. Agrawal would also encourage you to give it to a child who hasn’t yet shown much interest in math and science, though. The Indian British American engineer has made it her mission to open doors for marginalized communities, specifically girls and women of color, who may not consider engineering for a career. (Recommended ages: 6 to 9)

Preview thumbnail for 'How Was That Built?: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures

How Was That Built?: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures

This striking book explains the feats of engineering behind the world's most impressive architectural marvels.

Nellie vs. Elizabeth: Two Daredevil Journalists’ Breakneck Race Around the World by Kate Hannigan

At Smithsonian , it is part of our mission to tell the stories of hidden figures in American history, and so I would be remiss to not include a picture book biography on this list. Kate Hannigan’s Nellie vs. Elizabeth stands out of this year’s bunch. Rather than a dry, dense read, as many in the subgenre sadly are, this book is “swiftly paced,” as Publisher’s Weekly puts it, as it follows on the heels of rival reporters Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland in their 1889-1890 race to circumnavigate the globe in opposite directions. The book was released just in time for the 150th anniversary of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days —a record the two intrepid travelers were dead set on beating. Hannigan’s background in newspaper journalism—her résumé includes stints at the Dallas Morning News and San Francisco Chronicle —shows, as she weaves in quotes from Bly and Bisland and reportage of the competition from 15 different publications. (Recommended ages: 7 to 10)

Preview thumbnail for 'Nellie vs. Elizabeth: Two Daredevil Journalists' Breakneck Race around the World

Nellie vs. Elizabeth: Two Daredevil Journalists' Breakneck Race around the World

In this real-life adventure, daredevil and groundbreaking journalists Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland race against each other–and the clock–as they circle the globe by ship, train, and foot.

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A Note to our Readers Smithsonian magazine participates in affiliate link advertising programs. If you purchase an item through these links, we receive a commission.

Megan Gambino

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Megan Gambino is a senior web editor for Smithsonian magazine.

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Never underestimate the quiet girl reading in her nook! She's lived a thousand lives.

Best Reads of 2022: Illustrated books

illustrated books 2022

Happy Saturday!

I am posting a little bit later than planned because my day has been hectic!

Looking back to my reading year I want to talk about illustrated books or comics!

Maybe you know it, but Belgium is renowned for it comics and illustrated books ! Think Tintin and the Smurfs but also Blake and Mortimer, Thorgal and many more!

Since being a kid I read many of these books and then, come adulthood, I stopped! But this year thanks to hype I went back to reading some of these and… I have been blown away by two of them!

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman (see yesterday’s post for more details).

illustrated books 2022

The drawing is nearly childish and the colors pastels but it fits the tone of the story perfectly! Filled with tender moments and good intentions, it’s a breath of fresh air!

The second one is the Lore Olympus series by Rachel Smythe!

illustrated books 2022

With its dual shade of pink and blue its sets the tone of the story. Here again, the trait is simple, not a lot of details, just angles, planes and curves but I really packs a punch! Behind that seemingly simplistic appearance hides serious topics like rape, abuse, manipulation etc. All while having Hades and Persephone’s budding love story unfurl!

Thanks for reading!

illustrated books 2022

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I love Lore Olympus but I’ve read the online version of it.

I think I’ll read the online version for the other instalments as I am too impatient!

Lore Olympus could definitely be something I could try out someday! 😀

I certainly think that you could love it! And I’d love to read your review!

I didn’t know Belgium was the reigning crown for illustrations, that is awesome. Illustrated books are all the rage haha I do like the ones you listed though, those books have good illustrations on them. (its the ones with no faces I struggle with as they are creepy to me lol)

Yes it’s a long tradition in my country it seems Renee!

I need to read more graphic novels, they aren’t my usual go to but they always sound so good

They aren’t my usual either Tammy but these two were amazing! So I regret nothing!

I’m still yet to read both of these….and I own them!!!!

I don’t think I read any graphic novels this year. Shame on me!

Well I got back to them very recently Sam!

Tolstoy Therapy

15 of the most beautifully illustrated children’s books for young and grown readers

I only share books I know and love. If you buy through my links, I may earn a commission (learn more).

illustrated books 2022

While researching the most gorgeously illustrated books for adults and children , I realised just how many beautiful children’s books there are – and how valuable they are for adults and children alike to retreat into.

As Katherine Rundell shares in her wonderfully titled essay, Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise :

“When you read children’s books, you are given the space to read again as a child: to find your way back, back to the time when new discoveries came daily and when the world was colossal .”

Many of the best children’s books speak of hope, love, beauty, exploration, and courage.

And, with stunning illustrations like those in the books I’ve collected below, they offer a comforting moment of rest away from our busy world – as well as a reminder that you absolutely can find art in children’s books.

Here’s my collection of some of the most beautifully illustrated children’s books of all time, including some of the best new children’s books for 2022.

The most beautiful children’s books of all time

1. watercress by andrea wang and jason chin (2022).

illustrated books 2022

Watercress , the stunning Caldecott Medal Winner for 2022, is a thought-provoking and beautiful story of a first-generation girl coming to terms with, and ultimately celebrating, her Chinese heritage.

Author Andrea Wang calls this moving, autobiographical story “both an apology and a love letter to my parents,” offering a bittersweet and delicate look at shared history, identity, and memories.

As one of the best illustrated children’s books for 2022 , Watercress is sure to become a classic.

2. Becoming a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery and Rebecca Green (2020)

illustrated books 2022

It’s no secret how much I love How to Be a Good Creature : A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery.

I’ve recommended this heartwarming and tender book time and time again in the last few years: it’s one of the most soothing books I’ve found to boost my spirits and restore my faith in the beauty and goodness in the world.

Like Sy’s memoir, this uplifting companion book for readers young and grown is similarly adorned with gorgeous illustrations by Rebecca Green.

In the pages of Becoming a Good Creature you uncover a wholesome, inspiring, and friendly guide for readers who wish to be better creatures in the world.

3. The Snail with the Right Heart by Maria Popova and Ping Zhu (2021)

illustrated books 2022

This beautiful children’s book is a collaboration between Maria Popova, the curious mind behind The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings), and illustrator Ping Zhu.

With wonderfully bold illustrations, the book is an introduction to evolution, a celebration of the beauty of uniqueness, and a story of time and chance, love and death, and the finite and infinite.

4. Lore of the Wild: Folklore and Wisdom from Nature by Claire Cock-Starkey (2021)

illustrated books 2022

Lore of the Wild is an enchanting treasure trove of natural folklore and wild wisdom from around the world.

I bought myself the hardcover edition last year for peaceful evening reading, while also looking forward to the chance to learn more about the ancient wisdom and folktales from familiar and unfamiliar corners of Earth.

With vibrant colour and spellbinding illustrations, it’s a joy to read at storytime.

illustrated books 2022

5. What is Love? by Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis (2021)

illustrated books 2022

“What is love?” a young boy asks. “I can’t answer that,” his grandmother says. So the boy goes out into the world to find out, asking each person he meets. They all offer a unique answer, but none of them seem exactly right.

Is love really a fish, like the fisherman claims? What about applause, as the actor says? Could love in fact be something closer to home?

Accompanied by uplifting illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winning artist Carson Ellis, this heartwarming modern fable is a treat for children, parents, grandparents, and other readers who stumble upon its tender wisdom.

6. The Wanderer by Peter Van den Ende (2020)

illustrated books 2022

This beautiful monochrome children’s book is the enigmatic, engrossing, and wordless story of one little paper boat’s journey across the ocean.

The boat may be all alone, but as it passes reefs and between icebergs, through schools of fish, and next to sea monsters, it has the chance to wonder at the enchanting world above and below the waves.

As a storm brews, the little boat must find the strength to save itself as the waves build and the winds blow.

And so it does, offering all readers an inspiring reminder of their own strength in this quietly powerful story about weathering life’s ups and downs.

illustrated books 2022

7. What is a River? by Monika Vaicenavičienė (2021)

illustrated books 2022

What is a river? That’s the question explored by Monika Vaicenavičienė , Lithuanian illustrator and storyteller, in this gorgeous children’s book about interconnectedness in our shared world.

With poetic grace and encyclopedic insights, Vaicenavičienė explores the many things a river can be: among others, a journey, a meeting place, a smell, a reflection, a mystery, and refreshment.

illustrated books 2022

8. The Bear in the Stars by Alexis Snell (2020)

illustrated books 2022

The Bear in the Stars is a stunningly illustrated and lyrical book – a poignant yet inspiring fable about the environment, loss, new beginnings, and the transformative power of kindness.

It’s a timely and beautiful book for readers of all ages that’s perfect for bedtime reading.

illustrated books 2022

9. Seeking an Aurora by Elizabeth Pulford and Anne Bannock (2021)

illustrated books 2022

What an elegantly captivating book this is. Seeking an Aurora is the tender creation of New Zealand author-artist duo Elizabeth Pulford and Anne Bannock, who in this sparse and beautiful children’s book capture the spellbinding wonder and magic of the cosmos.

illustrated books 2022

10. Almost Nothing, yet Everything: A Book about Water by Hiroshi Osada and Ryōji Arai (2021)

illustrated books 2022

Some author-artist partnerships come together to create magic, and that couldn’t be more true with the trio of Japanese poet Hiroshi Osada, artist Ryōji Arai, and translator David Boyd.

I’ve included two of their books on this list, the first being this lovely illustrated poem, Almost Nothing, yet Everything: A Book about Water .

With lush art, evocative poetry meditating on our place in nature, and a translation that skilfully harnesses the elegance of the original Japanese, this is a refreshing and uplifting children’s book that opens our eyes to the wonders of water, life, and our universe.

illustrated books 2022

11. Every Color of Light by Hiroshi Osada and Ryōji Arai (2020)

illustrated books 2022

The second book I’ve chosen from Hiroshi Osada, Ryōji Arai, and translator David Boyd is a gorgeous celebration of light in all its forms.

Every Color of Light: A Book about the Sky illuminates the wonders of the sky above us, crafting an imaginative and poetic bedtime story told by the elements.

As lightning strikes the sky, rain falls on lush green forests, and a new day blooms, this lovely book offers up an ode to calmness and turbulence, harmonizing human experience with the natural world.

illustrated books 2022

12. My First Day by Phùng Nguyên Quang and Huỳnh Kim Liên (2021)

illustrated books 2022

What an adventure this beautiful picture story is. My First Day is an inspiring story of courage and determination for new beginnings, perfect for back-to-school reading.

In this stunning children’s book by Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien, book creators living and working together in Ho Chi Minh City, the rainy season has come to the Mekong Delta.

An, a young Vietnamese boy, sets out alone for the first time in a wooden boat on “the great river, Mother Mekong”, wearing his backpack and armed with a single oar.

Although daunted by the dark unknown on his expedition – towering waves, heavy rainfall, and spooky mangrove forests – An realizes that it will all be worth it when he reaches his destination: his very first day of school.

illustrated books 2022

13. The Rhythm of the Rain by Grahame Baker-Smith (2019)

illustrated books 2022

In this breathtakingly beautiful picture book about the journey of water from the smallest raindrop to the deepest ocean, Issac plays in his favorite pool on the mountainside, emptying his jar of water into the pool as rain starts to fall.

Racing the sparkling streams as they tumble over waterfalls towards the vast open sea, Isaac wonders, Where will my little jar of water go now?

Lovingly crafted by the Kate Greenaway Medal winner Grahame Baker-Smith, The Rhythm of the Rain is an iridescent, otherworldly wonder of a book, layered with magic and majesty for readers of all ages to marvel at.

illustrated books 2022

14. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr (1987)

illustrated books 2022

Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling, the trees standing still and the world silent around them. Whoo-whoo-whoo , calls the father, but there is no answer.

The two companions walk along wordlessly, sharing a quiet acceptance that sometimes there isn’t an owl, but sometimes there is.

In this timelessly wise and comforting children’s classic, distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a tender and poetic story that lovingly paints the companionship of a young child and her father, as well as their relationship with the natural world.

Perfectly complemented by John Schoenherr’s soft, dream-like watercolor illustrations, Owl Moon is a verbal and visual treasure to share at bedtime.

15. The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (2017)

illustrated books 2022

The Lost Words is the gift of an iconic collaboration between one of the greatest nature writers of our time, Robert Macfarlane, and bestselling illustrator Jackie Morris.

This beautiful book for children and adults alike is a stunning ode to the fading and forgotten words of British nature: otter, dandelion, kingfisher, bramble .

Like many of the books on this list, children’s book doesn’t seem entirely fair. It’s an exquisite book for all readers, offering a reminder of the joy of growing up close to nature, aware of the birds, flowers, plants, and phenomena of the wild planet we inhabit, wherever we are in the world.

illustrated books 2022

For more enchanting books to tumble into, enjoy my curated list of the most beautiful books in the world and the most beautifully illustrated books for all ages.

Lucy Fuggle is a professional writer, reader, and creator of Tolstoy Therapy. Drawing on her love for books and a degree in English Literature, she started Tolstoy Therapy in 2012 and has shared the most feel-good, cozy, and beautiful books for over a decade. After working as a content specialist with leading companies for nearly 10 years, she now focuses on her own websites and books ( Mountain Song , Your Life in Bloom , and Simple Business ). She grew up in England and now lives in Denmark with her husband. For more book recommendations, subscribe to Tolstoy Therapy's weekly email to inspire your reading list.

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20 of the most exciting illustrators to follow in 2022

Whether you're looking for an illustrator to collaborate with or hire or just want to see some fresh and original art to inspire your own work, you'll find 20 of the world's most exciting illustrators to follow right here.

© Higi Vandis

© Higi Vandis

Every year at Creative Boom, we search through the thousands of illustrators out there and gather together some of the best talents in one easy-to-access article. Our list includes new and emerging illustrators, some barely (or not yet) out of college, who are causing waves with innovative styles.

We've also featured some older hands whom we feel don't seem to get the attention they deserve, despite pushing creative boundaries and carving out a truly unique path for themselves.

In short, every single one of these 20 illustrators will inspire, enthral and engage you. Read on to find out who they are, and if you like what you see, be sure to click through to their portfolios and learn more.

1. Felicia Fortes

Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, Felicia Fortes is an illustrator, artist and designer known for her colourful, detailed illustrations for clients across editorial, advertising and publishing. She works mainly in two styles – one focused on flat colourful compositions and the other adding more textures and hand-drawn graphic details. Either way, there's an engaging honesty and frankness to her work that really makes it stand out, whether in print or on-screen.

© Felicia Fortes

© Felicia Fortes

2. Shabazz Larkin

Shabazz is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer based in Nashville, USA, interested in creating images of black culture and contemporary spirituality. Having worked with some of the world's largest brands, from Pepsi to Sean Combs, he's known for painting vibrant portraiture on canvas, typographic printing techniques, and turning colour and bold type up to the max. Best of all, Shabazz blends these approaches and always keeps you guessing. This means his work always surprises and always makes you think. He's just released his new book, The Thing About Bees , too.

© The Thing About Bees – Shabazz Larkin

© The Thing About Bees – Shabazz Larkin

3. Harrison Edwards

Illustrator, designer and, print-maker Harrison Edwards combines his love of vintage styles and digital artwork with humour and personality. Never content, Harrison looks to push his skill level willing to challenge himself with new styles, from portraiture work and pattern making to animation, he's worked with clients including Beats, Canon, Adobe, Eurostar, Time Out, and Tabasco. Overall, there's a youthful vibrance and pop-culture energy that means his illustrations never fail to put a smile on your face.

© Harrison Edwards

© Harrison Edwards

4. Alona Millgram

Alona Millgram is an illustrator based in Israel who works across the advertising, editorial, publishing, and packaging sectors. With clients including Perrier, Electra, Peachtree Publishing, Center for Educational Technology and Israel's Ministry of Education, she loves creating fantastical new worlds. And there's a beautiful child-like quality to her work that instantly makes the viewer want to explore and enjoy them.

© Alona Millgram

© Alona Millgram

5. Sonia Alins

Living and working in Catalonia, Spain, Sonia Alins is an illustrator and artist focused on creating pieces of art – often three-dimensional – with a poetic narrative that addresses her feelings, desires, dreams and nightmares. Sonia makes extensive use of the human figure and, at the same time, explores the expressiveness of elements such as transparency and blur. With careful use of colour and a particular penchant for soft pastels, this all adds to illustration work that's both easily accessible and beautifully distinctive.

© Sonia Alins

© Sonia Alins

6. Benjamin Flouw

Benjamin Flouw is an artist based in Marseille, France, interested in environmental issues. Consequently, he's on a mission to fill the world with pictures of animals, plants and landscapes in his distinctive style, which blends flat, colourful geometric shapes, textures, patterns and dramatic lighting. He specialises in commercial and editorial illustrations, books and poster projects for clients including Airbnb, Air Canada, Cartoon Network, Daimler and Variety. We love his work because it seems to effortlessly blend the retro and the modern in a way that never sinks into cliche and always seems fresh and new.

© Benjamin Flouw

© Benjamin Flouw

7. Cinta Arribas

Cinta is an illustrator living in Valladolid, a city in the north of Spain. She enjoys telling stories through her art and imagining stories inspired by different characters. With clients including El País, Babelia, Gràffica Magazine and Agencia Sinc, she's represented by Pencil Ilustradores in Spain, Central and South America. "With my work, I try to highlight the fact that life should always be a little fun," she says, and we'd posit that she succeeds in this wildly. Her work is child-like but never childish, and very distinctively hers.

© Cinta Arribas

© Cinta Arribas

8. Ekaterina Sheath

A recent graduate of Leeds Arts University, where she studied Illustration, Ekaterina Sheath sees her craft as a way to celebrate hidden stories and as a tool to experience local spaces as a cultural asset. Her clients include Trinity Shopping Centre, Victoria Gate & Victoria Quarter, Leeds City Council, and Kiezfonds Lichtenberg, a local government body in Berlin. In her work, she manages to bring streets to colourful life in a way that blends perfectly with her environment. It's a neat trick if you can pull it off, and Ekaterina does, time after time. Ekaterina is currently working with Historic England and Wakefield Council, as part of the Upper Westgate Heritage Action Zone, to create a series of public realm installations that aim to celebrate Westgate's heritage through the stories of its community.

© Ekaterina Sheath

© Ekaterina Sheath

9. Higi Vandis

Based in Bilbao, Spain, Higi Vandis has been working as an illustrator and graphic designer since 2002 and running her own studio since 2013. Alongside work for clients such as the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Astiberri, Cruz Roja and Obra Social "la Caixa", she also teaches masters degrees and workshops. What's immediately striking about Higi's work is his use of intensive, neon colours, which makes everything feel instantly 2020s while never going overboard.

© Higi Vandis

10. Xavier Mula

Xavier Mula is an illustrator and designer from Barcelona, Spain, focusing on editorial, advertising and visual communication. His work is distinguished by vibrant and bold colours, with a direct, identifiable and playful language. Having won several awards, he also works as a teacher at La Gaspar Design School in Igualada (Barcelona). His illustration style is always full of energy, but it's energy that's always controlled skillfully, making it all the more powerful as a result.

© Xavier Mula

© Xavier Mula

11. Shunsuke Satake

Based in Kobe City, Japan, Shunsuke Satake has been a freelance illustrator since 2007; he previously worked as a graphic designer at an advertising production company. Focused on producing illustrations and characters for advertisements and books, he specialises in child-rearing, education, and family-friendly work. His deceptively simple work evokes what it is to be a child; glance through his portfolio, and you'll feel the years instantly flood away from you.

© Shunsuke Satake

© Shunsuke Satake

12. Maike Neuendorff

Maike Neuendorff is a German illustrator based near Frankfurt who used to work as a landscape architect. Her work is inspired by plants, gardens and nature in general, and she is also intrigued by children and their interaction with the living world. Working in various media – from ink and colour pencil to digital collage and printmaking – her first book, The Dream Garden, was published last year by Carthusia of Milan. There's a calmness to her illustration style that relaxes you the moment you see it, while the level of carefully curated detail makes you want to linger even longer.

© Maike Neuendorff

© Maike Neuendorff

13. Patti Ruan

Patti Ruan is a Chinese illustrator based in Shanghai who likes to observe small events in everyday life and make feelings visible by depicting people's inner thoughts. Following a series of graphic design roles, she's been working as a freelance illustrator and designer since 2019. Exhibiting a strong point of view and occasionally bordering on the surreal, her work offers a perspective on life that you simply won't find anywhere else.

14. Abi Deniz

Abi Deniz is a senior in Illustration at the Cleveland Institute of Art who enjoys painting, designing and telling stories. She likes to combine analogue and digital techniques, pulling everything together in Photoshop and Procreate, and draws her inspiration from history, literature and life drawing. While the results are often striking in their apparent simplicity, stare a little more, and you find they're full of hidden, fascinating depths.

© Abi Deniz

© Abi Deniz

15. Danyelle Lakin

Born in Canada to Irish parents, Danyelle Lakin lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Primarily a figurative painter, she predominantly paints with oils, acrylics, and R & F oil pigment sticks on cradled birch and canvas. With a keen eye for the nuances that make us truly human, the eyes are often the central focus of her artwork, and she firmly believes in the notion of them being "the window to the soul".

© Danyelle Lakin

© Danyelle Lakin

16. Eva Wünsch

Eva Wünsch is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Berlin interested in intersectional feminism, sexual education, medicine, and other scientific fields. She likes to draw figurative work that's influenced by still-life styles and her clients, including publishing houses, cultural institutions, universities, professional journals, brands and magazines. Drawing on everything from classic posters to isometric art, Eva's work never pulls its punches, and we are ever thankful for that.

© Eva Wünsch

© Eva Wünsch

17. Marius Valdes

Marius Valdes is an artist based in Columbia, South Carolina. His work has been featured in several books about contemporary graphic design and illustration, and he has participated in solo and group exhibitions internationally. He is also a professor at The University of South Carolina and has presented at several academic conferences. But if all that sounds overly serious, then don't be fooled: his work is endlessly, gloriously colourful and fun.

© Marius Valdes

© Marius Valdes

18. Adrián Balastegui

Adrián Balastegui is an illustrator and 2D animator based in Barcelona, Spain. He likes to create dream-like tribal worlds with distorted characters and strong, powerful colours. Constantly trying to learn and get out of his comfort zone, Adrián is currently introducing himself to motion graphics and 3D. But whatever the medium, you can guarantee engaging characters, inspired use of colour, and evocative, fantastical landscapes you'll want to lose yourself in.

© Adrián Balastegui

© Adrián Balastegui

19. Dani Torrent

Born in Barcelona, illustrator, painter and writer Dani Torrent studied illustration at Escuela Superior de Diseño y Arte Llotja. He has participated in various individual and group exhibitions and published picture books and illustrated books, both in Spain and abroad. Glancing through his portfolio, words like 'ethereal', 'graceful', and 'magical' come to mind, not without reason.

© Dani Torrent

© Dani Torrent

20. Vic Lee

Based in his studio on the Camberwell and Peckham borders of south London, Vic Lee creates elaborate and detailed artworks, from fine line pen-work to vast storytelling murals. This award-winning artist, author, illustrator and map-maker has been in much demand, working with a varied client base since starting his studio in 2010. And no surprise, because what this artist can do with illustrative lettering would make any wall want to be his canvas.

University of Kent © Vic Lee

University of Kent © Vic Lee

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Book illustrations: Helen & Louie's counting adventure

Books | Best Sellers

Children’s picture books - march 20, 2022.

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25 weeks on the list


by Adam Wallace. Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

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Announcing One Book, One Philadelphia 2024 Selection: True Biz by Sara Nović

Free Library of Philadelphia logo

PHILADELPHIA – The Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP), the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation (Foundation), and the Office of the Mayor today announced that True Biz by Sara Nović has been chosen as the 2024 One Book, One Philadelphia featured reading selection. This announcement marks the 22nd year of the program.

True Biz is a story of communication across radically different experiences. It involves three characters at the River Valley School for the Deaf. Charlie is a new transfer student. Austin is the school’s golden boy. February is the school’s Headmistress and a child of deaf adults. Together, they try to find their footing during a new school year, navigating major life changes and an impending threat to their school that may change them forever.

“Reading is fundamental,” said Mayor Cherelle L. Parker , “I cannot thank the Free Library of Philadelphia enough for their dedication to providing spaces for our communities to improve literacy and create civic dialogue across our City. The One Book, One Philadelphia program is a great way to unify our City and inspire a love of reading for youth and adults.”

One Book, One Philadelphia is an acclaimed literacy and civic dialogue initiative that encourages the greater Philadelphia region to come together through reading and conversation. This announcement marks the beginning of the FLP’s new reading period, during which Philadelphians are invited to delve into the featured selection.

Young readers will join the conversation with discussions and programs inspired by youth companion titles such as You’re Welcome, Universe, written and illustrated by Whitney Gardner, and Can Bears Ski? , written by Raymond Antrobus and illustrated by Polly Dunbar.

“One Book, One Philadelphia continues to create a shared reading experience that promotes learning from different cultures and perspectives, which helps us to better understand not only the world around us but also each other,” said Kelly Richards, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia . “This year’s selection, True Biz , is no different. With its emphasis on education and belonging, it is as enlightening as it is heartwarming.”

The 2024 One Book, One Philadelphia program season will officially kick off at the Parkway Central Library on April 8 at 7:30 p.m. The launch event will feature a conversation between author Sara Nović and Melissa Draganac-Hawk, Principal of Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. A registration link to attend the kick-off event will be posted on the One Book, One Philadelphia webpage today. An American Sign Language interpreter will also attend the kick-off event.

This season’s programming will include dozens of events for all ages. Programming will explore themes from True Biz and the youth companion titles including, language and connection, Deaf cultures and histories, accessibility, education, and the desire for self-determination. Details can be found on .

The 2024 One Book, One Philadelphia program is endowed by the Joseph and Marie Field Fund and sponsored by the Field Foundation. The program is also made possible through generous support from PECO and The Sylvia W. and Randle M. Kauders Foundation, secured by the Foundation. Media sponsors include Audacy, ClearChannel Outdoor, Keystone Outdoor, WHYY, and WURD.

In addition, donations made through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program enable thousands of School District of Philadelphia students and teachers to participate in the One Book, One Philadelphia each year by providing free copies of the selected books and accompanying curricula. The Foundation extends its gratitude to the corporations that have made this important initiative possible through their EITC gifts.

All FLP locations will have copies of True Biz and the youth companion titles for customers to borrow with a Free Library card, as well as e-book copies and downloadable audiobooks available for check-out from .

Images of the event can be found here .

About the Free Library of Philadelphia The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and The Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 31,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including those at the Parkway Central Library and The Rosenbach. With more than 5 million in-person visits and 5 million more online annually, the Free Library and The Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.

About One Book, One Philadelphia Founded in 2003 by the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Office of the Mayor, One Book, One Philadelphia motivates tens of thousands of people to read an annual featured selection and participate in programming that encourages empathy, understanding, and dialogue among Philadelphia’s many communities.

About Sara Nović Sara Nović is a writer, activist, and translator based in Philadelphia. Her New York Times bestselling book Girl at War won the American Library Association’s Alex Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She holds a master’s of fine arts degree from Columbia University, where she studied fiction and literary translation. 

Press Releases

City provides update on response to air quality alert for thursday, june 8, 2023, el departamento de salud pública de filadelfia declara emergencia de salud por calor para el lunes 8 y el martes 9 de agosto de 2022, philadelphia department of public health declares heat health emergency monday, august 8 and tuesday, august 9, 2022.

Florida law blasted after permission slip sent to hear Black author’s book

illustrated books 2022

A controversial “parental rights” law in Florida is facing renewed scrutiny after a rule about parental permission slips sparked confusion at a Miami elementary school when it asked parents to sign a slip allowing their children to hear a guest speaker read a book “written by an African-American.”

Charles Walter, a parent of two at Coral Way K-8 Center in Miami, shared a Miami-Dade Public Schools permission slip on social media Monday that described an in-school library event for his daughter’s first-grade class. The students would “participate & listen to a book written by an African-American,” while guests for the activity were described as “fireman/doctor/artist.”

“I had to give permission for this or else my child would not participate???” Walter wrote on X. He told The Washington Post in an interview this was the first parental permission slip he received since the policy took effect last fall but has since received others.

The state rule in question is an extension of a “parental bill of rights” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed in 2022. DeSantis touted the bill of rights and other education reforms as a way to help parents combat what he and other conservative figures claimed was “liberal indoctrination” woven through the K-12 and higher education system. Now, critics of the law are saying its vague language and the lack of clarification by state officials is sowing confusion and having a chilling effect on educators.

The Miami-Dade Public School District did not respond to specific questions about the permission slip protocols but in a statement acknowledged the description of the event “may have caused confusion, and we are working with our schools to reemphasize the importance of clarity for parents in describing activities/events that would require parental permission.”

“However, in compliance with State Law, permission slips were sent home because guest speakers would participate during a school-authorized education-related activity,” the statement continued.

Florida Board of Education Chairman Ben Gibson argued that Coral Way leaders misread the rule — and said the rule is so obvious that those advising Coral Way on the permission slip policy were “grossly misinterpreting” the rule or intentionally misapplying it for political reasons.

“Obviously, it is wrong to interpret the rule to require parental permission for students to receive ordinary instruction, including subjects required by state law and Department rule,” Gibson wrote in a letter to Coral Way’s principal.

While Gibson’s letter said Coral Way was the only school he knew of to misinterpret the state law and called the rule “obvious,” another Miami-Dade County school ran into similar confusion just one week earlier.

Parents at iPrep Academy in Miami were asked to sign a permission form if their child wanted to participate in “ … class and school wide presentations showcasing the achievements and recognizing the rich and diverse traditions, histories, and innumerable contributions of the Black communities,” Miami news station WPLG reported.

IPrep’s permission slip request similarly drew confusion and anger, while the Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. said in a statement that “Florida does not require a permission slip to teach African American history or to celebrate Black History Month.”

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education did not provided clarification on whether the department’s rule requires parental permission slips any time guest speakers are present, regardless of the activity, saying, “The Commissioner’s comments and the letter from Chairman Gibson speak for themselves.”

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, is among the law’s critics who believe parents have the right to guide their child’s education, but that Florida’s laws are hamstringing educators.

“The issue in Miami underscores the confusion created by the Governor and the Florida Department of Education — they have created a climate of fear in our state and districts are concerned that any education decision can be challenged,” Spar said in a statement.

State Sen. Shevrin Jones (D) took particular umbrage with Commissioner Diaz and other DeSantis-aligned leaders at the FDOE dismissing the confusion over a policy they crafted as a “hoax” or a media invention.

“Let’s be clear: it’s not a hoax, it’s a reality,” Jones said, noting DeSantis followed up the parental bill of rights with the “Stop WOKE Act” that limits how concepts about race can be taught in schools.

“And if it’s a hoax in [Diaz’s] opinion, I’d like to have any leader clarify what does the law say? What should admins in school districts be doing? It was presented by the legislature, by the governor, through the Department of Education. So if it’s not true, the commissioner should clarify.”

Walter, the Coral Way parent, believes most parents were surprised to get the parental consent form. He praised Coral Way’s principal as doing a “great job” at navigating confusion created by the school district and the state.

And while Walter said he welcomes strong communication between parents and schools, he sees clear flaws in the permission-slip policy, including the fact that it’s opt-in, meaning by default, students can’t participate in a designated activity unless their parents have given written consent.

“I commend the school for continuing to offer enrichment activities in light of additional policies that are being requested,” Walter said. “My only concern is how this gets rolled out statewide, and if it might discourage other schools from offering extracurriculars.”

Walter also worried about what the permission-slip policy means for student’s getting exposure to activities their parents dislike, regardless of merit. He never learned specifically which book “written by an African American” was read at his daughter’s library activity on Tuesday but said none of the parents opted out.

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