We love art of all kinds here at Simply Framed, whether displayed in a museum, hanging on our own walls, or tucked away on a bookshelf. Lately, we’ve been enjoying artwork in the form of illustrated “children's” books whose stunning imagery, fantastical worlds, and inspiring takeaways stick with us long after we've turned the last page.
Turns out, we’re not the only ones. Jordan B. Nielsen, children’s book buyer at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, Brooklyn, says that sophisticated, beautifully designed picture books are a big trend. “In our stores, both kids and their parents really gravitate to them as something they want to read through again and again,” Jordan tells us, citing UK publishers like Nobrow and Wide Eyed Editions as being at the forefront of the aesthetic. "It's wonderful to see customer tastes moving away from mass-market and into a more thoughtful, well-produced books that look as good on the coffee table as they do on the bedside table."
We couldn’t agree more, so we rounded up 10 of the most intriguing illustrated books of the moment. Buy them for yourself, steal them from your child, or gift one to someone you love—no matter how old they are.
1. This Is Not A Book by Jean Jullien
The best books give you a new perspective. Case in point: Jean Jullien’s mind-bending This Is Not A Book, which encourages children and adults alike to view everyday objects with a fresh outlook.
Image credit: Jean Jullien, This Is Not A Book.
2. It's Never Too Late by Dallas Clayton
“What would you care of bills and debt? Or opinions of people you’d never met?” So asks Dallas Clayton in his uplifting read that reminds us to live in the moment and focus on the things that matter most in our lives. We’re tearing up—in a happy way—just thinking about it.
Image credit: Dallas Clayton, It's Never Too Late.
3. Wild Animals of the North by Dieter Braun
Wild Animals of The North will leave you with a deep appreciation of Braun’s streamlined, geometric illustrations, as well as the world’s wondrous creatures and their geographic diversity. Bravo.
Image credit: Dieter Braun, Wild Animals of the North.
4. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
If you’ve ever suffered a creative block or dreamed of some other life in which you were an artist, this book is for you. Kleon preaches ten nuggets of wisdom that he wishes he’d been told when he was young about how to lead a creative and fulfilled life. His straightforward words seem to take the pressure off and leave you feeling inspired to let your creative juices flow.
Image credit: Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist.
5. Journey by Aaron Becker
Journey tells an imaginative story completely through pictures. Just like the main character in the book, so are we transported into another realm purely through drawing. And while imagining the subtext of each page is enthralling, you could just as easily get lost in Becker’s vibrant renderings.
Image credit: Aaron Becker, Journey.
6. Girls Standing On Lawns, written by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman’s poignant illustrations alone would be enough. But Girls Standing on Lawns juxtaposes Kalman’s drawing with 40 vintage photos from MoMA’s collection, plus poetic verses from Handler (aka Lemony Snicket). The final piece is described as a “meditation on childhood, home, family, and the act of seeing.”
Image credit: Maira Kalman, Girls Standing On Lawns.
7. Where's Warhol?, written by Catherine Ingram and illustrated by Andrew Rae
The classic fave Where’s Waldo? goes all artsy in this updated take on the classic. It’s a blast to follow the recognizable icon on an illustration-packed adventure through memorable moments in history, and the book’s heaping collection of cultural touchstones and references will have you scouring the pages to see what—besides Warhol himself—you might discover.
Image credit: Andrew Rae, Where's Warhol.
8. This is Sadie, written by Sara O'Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad
Imagination—and beautiful, modern illustrations—rule in this beautiful book about Sadie, a creative child whose rich inner life reminds us all to keep playing, dreaming, and exploring.
Image credit: Julie Morstad, This Is Sadie.
9. Home by Carson Ellis
Carson Ellis’s joyous illustrations showcase a variety of habitats and the variety of beings that dwell in them, from Moonians to bees to Norse gods. Home invites children and adults alike to consider and imagine the breadth of life experience.
Image credit: Carson Ellis, Home.
10. Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
Maps are kind of a big deal for us here at Simply Framed, so we were more than happy to take a trip around the globe with this oversized, sumptuously illustrated take on an atlas, which has details for days. Wanderlust officially quenched!
Image credit: Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, Maps.
Want more? Visit powerHouse Arena in DUMBO to shop countless amazing illustrated books in person. And remember, Simply Framed is your go-to for convenient and affordable online custom framing.