The list author says: "When I had my son, I wanted to make sure he was exposed to books early on. I spent a lot of time at the library, hunting down recommendations from Amazon, friends and family and reading many, many children's books. I bought new and used picture books and had boxes of my husband's childhood books gifted to me by my mother-in-law.
A picture book doesn't make it with me unless I love the illustrations. You won't find any books here with a faux-childlike, stick-figure illustration style. You will find books that challenge kids to look closely and develop their visual memory and imagination.
These books were all enjoyed by my child from age 1 through 2.5. The list is somewhat slanted towards bears and trains, because that's what my kid likes."
"Too bad this is out of print. My son loved finding the animals hidden in the drawings; it was one of his early favorites, and a good one for learning to pick out subtle visual cues on the page. The finely-drawn, humorous illustrations follow three bumbling huntsmen and their dog through the woods. They never see any animals, although deer, raccoons, ducks, etc. are hiding all around them."
"We found this one at the library and loved it, and immediately got some more Alison Jay books. The pictures all refer to each other in interesting ways; the same objects are portrayed in different contexts, so you can treasure-hunt for, say, the airplane or the rabbit throughout the book. Her ABC and 123 books are the same way."
"This is the hands-down bedtime favorite at our house. Mickey tumbles into the Night Kitchen, whose 3 bakers need milk for their cake batter. He sculpts an airplane out of bread dough and flies up, up, "over the top of the Milky Way" to fetch milk from a giant bottle. Crisis averted, he slides down the bottle and back into bed."
"Dogs of all types take a trip to the park in this rhyming, descriptive book. The cutout illustrations do a nice job of capturing the essence of different breeds. Finding the mouse on each page is a nice game!"
"A persistent mouse teaches a grumpy bear how nice a friend can be. Kids like yelling "There was the mouse!" and finding the critter in his various hiding places. I was charmed by the interior of Bear's house, a classic backwoods-hippie dwelling with a clawfoot bathtub and a large shabby armchair."
"This one is especially good if you know the tune to the song it's based on. A little boy follows his teddy into the woods to spy on the teddy bears' secret picnic. The nouveau-Victorian pictures of teddy bears eating, swimming, playing hide-and-seek invite repeat reads."
"A really neat opposite book. Each page has a flap with a window; the picture in the window illustrates the first concept, then transforms into its opposite when the flap is raised. A black bat becomes the mouth of a white ghost; a tiny bug becomes the eye of a huge elephant."
"I. Love. It. We follow childlike Frog and his more mature friend Toad's excellent adventures in planning (A List), patience (The Garden), self-discipline (Cookies), courage (Dragons and Giants), and narcissism (The Dream)."