The Best Picture Books of 2017
The Children’s Book Review | January 17, 2017
It’s here! Our list of the best picture books from 2017. These picture books have it all—brilliant literary value and an illustrative quality that will sweep you away into the world of the pages!
20 Notable Picture Books
Written and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Publisher’s Synopsis: Oliver Jeffers, arguably the most influential creator of picture books today, offers a rare personal look inside his own hopes and wishes for his child–and in doing so gifts children and parents everywhere with a gently sweet and humorous missive about our world and those who call it home.
Insightfully sweet, with a gentle humor and poignancy, here is Oliver Jeffers’ user’s guide to life on Earth. He created it specially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet’s terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it’s big), or a guide to all of humanity (don’t be fooled, we are all people), Oliver’s signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Philomel Books | November 14, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0399167898
Written by Julia Denos
Illustrated by E.B. Goodale
Publisher’s Synopsis: Walking his dog at dusk, one boy catches glimpses of the lives around him in this lovely ode to autumn evenings, exploring your neighborhood, and coming home.
Before your city goes to sleep, you might head out for a walk, your dog at your side as you go out the door and into the almost-night. Anything can happen on such a walk: you might pass a cat, or a friend, or even an early raccoon. And as you go down your street and around the corner, the windows around you light up one by one until you are walking through a maze of paper lanterns, each one granting you a brief, glowing snapshot of your neighbors as families come together and folks settle in for the night. With a setting that feels both specific and universal and a story full of homages to The Snowy Day, Julia Denos and E. B. Goodale have created a singular book — at once about the idea of home and the magic of curiosity, but also about how a sense of safety and belonging is something to which every child is entitled.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Candlewick | October 17, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763690359
Written by Kate Klise
Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
Publisher’s Synopsis: Eli the dog has been with Astrid since her parents brought her home from the hospital as a baby. Now Astrid is getting older, and so is Eli. Before he slows down too much, Astrid wants to make fun memories with him. So she makes a bucket list for Eli, which includes experiences such as eating with him in a restaurant, and taking him down a slide at the playground.
But in the end, what is most important to Eli is the time he spends with Astrid, whom he loves dearly. Sisters Kate and M. Sarah Klise have created a story that reminds readers of all ages that time with our loved ones is the most precious gift of all.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | July 18, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1250107145
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrated by James E. Ransome
Publisher’s Synopsis: A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse and illustrated by an award-winning artist.
We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: Holiday House | November 7, 2017 | ISBN-13: 9780823420476
Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat
Publisher’s Synopsis: From the New York Times–bestselling creator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend comes the inspiring epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty.
Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?
Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.
Will he summon the courage to face his fear?
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | Oct. 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1626726826
Written by Malala Yousafzai
Illustrated by Kerascoët
Publisher’s Synopsis: Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author Malala Yousafzai’s first picture book, inspired by her own childhood.
Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them.
As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.
This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Oct. 17, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0316319577
Written by Giovanna Zoboli
Illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio
Publisher’s Synopsis: Mr. Crocodile loves his job. Every morning he gets up with an alarm. He brushes his teeth. He chooses the right tie to match his outfit, eats a quick slice of toast, and heads off to work on a crowded train. But what exactly is his job? The answer may surprise you! Readers will want to pore over this witty, wordless book again and again, finding new details and fresh stories with every reading.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | August 1, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1452165066
Written by Melanie Florence
Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Publisher’s Synopsis: The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language, Cree, he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive, beautifully illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of Canada’s residential school system, which separated young Indigenous children from their families.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: Second Story Press | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1772600377
Written by Useni Eugene
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Publisher’s Synopsis: Six-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Bryan Collier brings this classic, inspirational poem to life, written by poet Useni Eugene Perkins.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | November 14, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0316360302
Written by Michael Mahin
Illustrated by Evan Turk
Publisher’s Synopsis: A picture book celebration of the indomitable Muddy Waters, a blues musician whose fierce and electric sound laid the groundwork for what would become rock and roll.
Muddy Waters was never good at doing what he was told. When Grandma Della said the blues wouldn’t put food on the table, Muddy didn’t listen. And when record producers told him no one wanted to listen to a country boy playing country blues, Muddy ignored them as well. This tenacious streak carried Muddy from the hardscrabble fields of Mississippi to the smoky juke joints of Chicago and finally to a recording studio where a landmark record was made.
Soon the world fell in love with the tough spirit of Muddy Waters. In blues-infused prose and soulful illustrations, Michael Mahin and award-winning artist Evan Turk tell Muddy’s fascinating and inspiring story of struggle, determination, and hope.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481443494
Written by Chelsea Clinton
Publisher’s Synopsis: Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.
Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.
She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.
With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn’t give up on their dreams. Persistence is power.
This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor–and one special cameo.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Philomel Books | May 30, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1524741723
Publisher’s Synopsis: From Muslim and Latino poet Mark Gonzales comes a touching and lyrical picture book about a parent who encourages their child to find joy and pride in all aspects of their multicultural identity.
Dear little one,
…know you are wondrous.
A child of crescent moons,
a builder of mosques,
a descendant of brilliance,
an ancestor in training.
Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, Yo Soy Muslim is a celebration of social harmony and multicultural identities. The vivid and elegant verse, accompanied by magical and vibrant illustrations, highlights the diversity of the Muslim community as well as Indigenous identity. A literary journey of discovery and wonder, Yo Soy Muslim is sure to inspire adults and children alike.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Salaam Reads | August 29, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481489362
Written by Laurie Wallmark
Illustrated by Katy Wu
Publisher’s Synopsis: “If you’ve got a good idea, and you know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it.”
The inspiring story of Grace Hopper—the boundary-breaking woman who revolutionized computer science—is told told in an engaging picture book biography.
Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Acclaimed picture book author Laurie Wallmark (Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine) once again tells the riveting story of a trailblazing woman. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life.
Ages 5-12 | Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books | May 16, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1454920007
Written and Illustrated by Matt Lamothe
Publisher’s Synopsis: Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day! In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.
Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | May 2, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1452150185
Written by Langston Hughes
Illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Publisher’s Synopsis: “Dream Variation,” one of Langston Hughes’s most celebrated poems, about the dream of a world free of discrimination and racial prejudice, is now a picture book stunningly illustrated by Daniel Miyares, the acclaimed creator of Float.
To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done….
Langston Hughes’s inspiring and timeless message of pride, joy, and the dream of a better life is brilliantly and beautifully interpreted in Daniel Miyares’s gorgeous artwork.
Follow one African-American boy through the course of his day as the harsh reality of segregation and racial prejudice comes into vivid focus. But the boy dreams of a different life—one full of freedom, hope, and wild possibility, where he can fling his arms wide in the face of the sun.
Hughes’s powerful vision, brought joyously to life by Daniel Miyares, is as relevant—and necessary—today as when it was first written.
Ages 5+ | Publisher: Schwartz & Wade | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-039955017
Written by Laurel Snyder
Illustrated by Emily Hughes
Publisher’s Synopsis: Four hilarious stories, two inventive brothers, one irresistible book! Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood that children will relish in a format perfect for children not quite ready for chapter books.
Ages 6-9 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1452131535
Written by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Publisher’s Synopsis: Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel explore the beauty and tenacity of life.
Life begins small, then grows…
There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals—including elephants, monkeys, whales, and more—Cynthia Rylant offers a moving meditation on finding beauty around us every day and finding strength in adversity. Brendan Wenzel’s stunning landscapes and engaging creatures make this an inspiring and intriguing gift for readers of all ages.
Ages 6-9 | Publisher: Beach Lane Books | June 27, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481451628
Written and Illustrated by Jason Chin
Publisher’s Synopsis: Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon.
Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past.
Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts show you that a fossil today was a creature much long ago, perhaps in a completely different environment. Complete with a spectacular double gatefold, an intricate map and extensive back matter.
Ages 7-12 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | February 21, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1596439504
Written by Kathryn Erskine
Illustrated by Charly Palmer
Publisher’s Synopsis: Miriam Makeba, a Grammy Award–winning South African singer, rose to fame in the hearts of her people at the pinnacle of apartheid―a brutal system of segregation similar to American Jim Crow laws. Mama Africa, as they called her, raised her voice to help combat these injustices at jazz clubs in Johannesburg; in exile, at a rally beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and before the United Nations.
Set defiantly in the present tense, this biography offers readers an intimate view of Makeba’s fight for equality. Kathryn Erskine’s call-and-response style text and Charly Palmer’s bold illustrations come together in a raw, riveting duet of protest song and praise poem. A testament to how a single voice helped to shake up the world―and can continue to do so.
Ages 6-10 | Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux | Oct. 10, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0374303013
Written by Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Publisher’s Synopsis: To become the first female Jewish Supreme Court Justice, the unsinkable Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to overcome countless injustices. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and ’40s, Ginsburg was discouraged from working by her father, who thought a woman’s place was in the home. Regardless, she went to Cornell University, where men outnumbered women four to one. There, she met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, and found her calling as a lawyer. Despite discrimination against Jews, females, and working mothers, Ginsburg went on to become Columbia Law School’s first tenured female professor, a judge for the US Court of Appeals, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice.
Structured as a court case in which the reader is presented with evidence of the injustice that Ginsburg faced, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the true story of how one of America’s most “notorious” women bravely persevered to become the remarkable symbol of justice she is today.
Ages 6-9 | Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers | August 8, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1419725593
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