Beautiful, Unusual Children’s Books, 4

Press Here by Herve Tullet

press here

It’s an interactive book that isn’t!

Let me explain, while the book instructs readers to press dots, shake the pages, and so on, the book actually doesn’t change. The dynamic graphic designs, however, do give the impression that the book is coming alive in your hands. It’s about as close to having a magic book as you can get!



That’s really the whole thing. You shake the book and the dots change. Which is surprisingly entertaining and beautiful. Think cool, experimental minimalist art project for children.

Age Level: Really any age, since it’s the sort of book that can be adapted to suit whatever the reader wants.

Available for purchase:

Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Barbara Firth

little bear

Like the other Martin Waddell book on the list, Owl Babies, this one deals with a typical children’s problem, the inability to sleep in the dark. And, like Owl Babies, Waddell doesn’t downplay this problem as no big deal. In fact, the entire story feels kind of grand and epic, this increasing quest to find the perfect nightlights and the eventual contemplation of the moon in the night sky. Also, like Owl Babies, it’s a comforting story where the baby character eventually feels safe. It was a favorite story in my house, and I remember my little sister asking for it again and again when we were kids.

The illustrations are really charming and sweet without being cutesy. The bear’s cave is part actual cave part recognizable children’s bedroom, and, kind of like Miss Suzy’s house, I remember wanting to live there. The gentle, muted colors, clean line work, and increasing light from the lanterns helps create this cozy, moody feeling that kind of perfectly works for a bedtime story. Plus, it has bears. I love bears.



Age level: Pre-K and up

Available for purchase:

Stagecoach Sal by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Carson Ellis


Stagecoach Sal is a beautiful Western adventure story. I discovered it through library work and was delighted with the way it blended folk art illustrations and some fun adventure.

I absolutely love Carson Ellis as an illustrator and fine artist, and her work here is stellar, full of her beautiful linework details, smooth coloring, and charming characters. Like several others on this list, I would hang these illustrations on my wall. In fact, I actually own a poster by Carson Ellis, although it’s for a Decemberists concert and not from this book. Needless to say, she’s one of my very favorite illustrators!


Stagechoach Sal is also based on a true story, so it’s one of those educational books that also works as a genuinely fun read.

Age level: K+

Available for purchase:

ABCs by Charley Harper


If you’re an illustration fan and want to find a really beautiful and unusual alphabet book, this one is pretty incredible. I love the designs, the simple shapes the form the images, the color planes, the balance of the figures… These are, again, works that I would buy as prints. But, they also make really pleasing illustrations for the alphabet.


The images are colorful and charming, with pictures of animals for each letter. Unlike many alphabet books, it doesn’t try to be cutesy or really attention grabbing. It’s very calm, and seems to take kids very seriously.


I think a lot of adults have really gotten into this book, which, considering it has barely any text other than the alphabet, is kind of saying something. The images are just really beautiful.

He also has a similar 1 2 3s book and book of colors, both of which are beautiful.

Age level: pre-k, board book

Available for purchase:


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