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The Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2016, According to The New York Times


It’s a tradition that goes back more than 65 years – the annual selection of The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books. Full of color and whimsy, these 10 illustrated books will surely please budding readers. (I think The Polar Bear might be my favorite…)

The Cat From Hunger MountainThe Cat From Hunger Mountain
written and illustrated by Ed Young

In a place called Hunger Mountain there lives a lord who has everything imaginable yet never has enough. To satisfy his every desire, he hires builders to design the tallest pagoda; a world-famous tailor to make his clothing from silk and gold threads; and a renowned chef to cook him lavish meals with rice from the lord’s own fields. What more could he possibly want?


The Dead BirdThe Dead Bird
by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Christian Robinson

One day, the children find a bird lying on its side with its eyes closed and no heartbeat. They are very sorry, so they decide to say good-bye. In the park, they dig a hole for the bird and cover it with warm sweet-ferns and flowers. Finally, they sing sweet songs to send the little bird on its way.


Freedom in Congo SquareFreedom in Congo Square
by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square.


The Polar BearThe Polar Bear
written and illustrated by Jenni Desmond

A gorgeously illustrated nonfiction book about the polar bear, this is a factually accurate as well as a poetic exploration of polar bear bodies, habits, and habitats. A story about bears that engages the reader’s interest in amazing facts as well as their deep sense of wonder.


Preaching to the ChickensPreaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis
by Jabari Asim, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation!


A Voyage int the CloudsA Voyage in the Clouds
by Matthew Olshan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

In the year and a half since the flight of the first manned balloon in 1783, an Italian has flown, a Scot has flown, a woman has flown, even a sheep has flown. But no one has flown from one country to another. John Jeffries, an Englishman, and his pilot, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, a Frenchman, want to be the first.


The White Cat and the MonkThe White Cat and the Monk
by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith

A monk leads a simple life. He studies his books late into the evening and searches for truth in their pages. His cat, Pangur, leads a simple life, too, chasing prey in the darkness. As night turns to dawn, Pangur leads his companion to the truth he has been seeking.


Little RedLittle Red
written and illustrated by Bethan Woollvin

On her way to Grandma’s house, Little Red Riding Hood meets a wolf. Now, that might scare some little girls–but not this little girl! She knows just what the wolf is up to, and she s not going to let him get away with it.


The Princess and the WarriorThe Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes
written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Princess Izta had many wealthy suitors but dismissed them all. When a mere warrior, Popoca, promised to be true to her and stay always by her side, Izta fell in love…


The Tree in the CourtyardThe Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window
by Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Peter McCarty

Told from the perspective of the tree outside Anne Frank’s window—and illustrated by a Caldecott Honor artist—this book introduces her story in a gentle and incredibly powerful way to a young audience.

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