The list author says: "Some books are just so beautiful they leave you breathless. The emphasis of this list is the illustrations, but in many cases, the words are just as beautiful as the art. There are so many reasons to fall in love with children's books!"
"The latest Caldecott winner (January 2010), this retelling of the well-known fable by a grandmaster of illustration, Jerry Pinkney, is rich and wordless. Set in the Serengeti, painted with a warm palette."
"Trina Schart Hyman is best known for her illustrations of Grimms' fairy tales, but I like her artwork for Lloyd Alexander's story. Hyman set it in Cameroon in honor of her son-in-law and grandchildren. Look for her Red Riding Hood, Bearskin, and many others."
"Kinuko Craft is the new Trina Schart Hyman of fairy tale illustration. Take a look at her striking illustrations for this Russian tale with its dreadful witch. See also Craft's Sleeping Beauty, Cupid and Psyche, Cinderella, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses."
"Shaun Tan's picture books are for ages 8-adult. This wordless book is about the universal immigrant experience and is probably the most beautiful, moving book I've ever owned. (I've owned thousands of books.)"
"A symbol-laden book that's pretty much for grown-ups, but older children and teens will appreciate it, as well. It's about hopelessnes--and hope. Each individual illustration can be savored in its own right."
"This biography of Frida Kahlo is probably my second favorite picture book of all time simply for illustration (after The Arrival). I especially love Ana Juan's use of Mexican folk art figures as symbolic characters and the wonderful, poignant spread showing Frida's pain after her accident."
"The Woods are wildly talented, but King Bidgood is still my favorite--each of Don Wood's spreads invites careful examination and enjoyment. See also Heckedy Peg, The Napping House, and Quick as a Cricket."
"A treasured book in my collection. The incredible Leo and Diane Dillon illustrate a famous Bible passage using a series of styles from art history the world over. (Their books are ALWAYS beautiful, but you should share this one with everyone you know.)"
"Van Allsburg has created a number of beautiful books, but none quite so intriguing as this one. Teachers throughout the country use the art and captions as story starters (hence the portfolio--but look for the book edition if you prefer)."
"This award-winning book illustrated by Hudson Talbot is an epic in a small package, a beautiful, poetic quilt of symbolism and family love spanning the generations of both a single African American family and black history in America."
"Take a look at P.J. Lynch's rendition of a less well-known, Scandinavian version of Beauty and the Beast--especially his illustrations of the winds. I also recommend Mercer Mayer's out-of-print version of this story."
"This lovingly rendered biography of Harriet Tubman has an inspiring/spiritual tone. See also Kadir Nelson's illustrations for Abe's Honest Words, a new biography of Abraham Lincoln by Doreen Rappaport, and Nelson's own We Are the Ship, among others."
"Lois Ehlert's paper art books have been impressing me for years, but this one stands out even among all her successes. I especially like how she turns leaves into birds and other objects that flow naturally with the narrative."
"This is one of those deceptively simple books they call "a small gem." See also Bean's art for The Apple Pie That Papa Baked (author Lauren Thompson)--it's partly an homage to Wanda Gag and Virginia Lee Burton."
"Nobody paints stones like Dennis Nolan. Dove Isabeau is the powerful story of a girl turned into a dragon by her stepmother. (Note: Some of the most beautiful books in my collection are out of print. Scout around for inexpensive editions, as some are astronomically priced.)"
"The whole book is written in verse. Medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch is best known for his fantastical creatures--here the poet and illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon imagine those creatures being real, annoying pets to a slightly mad, yet lovable artist."
"Charles Santore's version recently went out of print. Take a look--especially at his illustration of Snow White fallen on the floor of the dwarves' cottage. (Another overpriced used book--scout around or check the library.)"
"This gentle allegory is illustrated in rich, dark color by British artist James Mayhew. Be sure to look at his cover and endpapers, where he created a real fabric "cloth of dreams" to match the story."
"We have access to a lot of European fairy tales, but what about an adventurous tale from Armenia with a heroic young queen? This one is illustrated by Raul Colon in his striking style and recognizably warm palette."