9 picture books from the 90s


This is my latest installment of picture books by the decade. How great was the 90s for picture books? Seriously great. At least I think so. (Notice I’ve used bubble writing for the years in each picture!)


Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney was on my PBs for summer list as well because it’s quintessentially summer and captures the magic of childhood at the same time. Ah, this book. A favorite. A classic. Perfection.


The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg is dark and clever and deals with (this is Chris Van Allsburg!) magic. A woman, a witch, a broom, what the neighbors think, and the meaning of evil.

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Pumpkins: A Story for a Field by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Barry Root. I’ve sung this one’s praises here before too. But really it just blows me away. Early Mary Lyn Ray is so so good. (As is later and current!)




Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say is a dear to my heart book about immigration, family, and having two homes. It’s one of the first picture books I loved as an adult.


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The Library by Sarah Stewart, pictures by David Small is a tribute to books and libraries and this lovable nose-in-a-book-character, Elizabeth Brown, who embodies both.



A Special Kind of Love by Stephen Michael King is quite an unusual book. It’s about a father who can’t say the words, “I love you,” to his son, so he shows him through the stuff he makes with his hands.




Night Driving by John Coy, illustrated by Peter McCarthy is another father/son book. It’s slow and quiet like a road trip and full of details for soaking up.



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A Picture Book of Amelia Earhart by David A. Adler, illustrated by Jeff Fisher. I do love a heroic  historical lady biography.



Weslandia by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes is one of my favorite books, period. Wesley is a bullied boy. He’s also an ingenious one. Over summer vacation, he turns his backyard into a veritable civilization by growing one staple crop. It’s strange and brilliant and empowering.



Looking at this list of my faves from the 90s, I’m not sure what conclusions to draw exactly. But I would note the magical realism threaded through this list. Relationships with family members figure into this bunch too, as well as relationships to special places.

Okay, your turn! Please tell me any of your favorite 90s picture books in the comments!

And check out 8 picture books from the 80s too!






12 Responses to 9 picture books from the 90s

  1. I was in high school and college when these came out so I don’t recall any of them since I wasn’t a ‘child’ back then. I recently read Roxaboxen and just loved it. I can’t wait to get my hands on the others you suggested.

  2. I take that back… I know Grandfather’s Journey since I’ve used that in the classroom. But not the rest.

  3. All wonderful, wonderful books!

    Here to add one of my personal favs, SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY. I can read it over and over and still find something new to marvel over.

  4. MaryAnne says:

    I read Roxaboxen over and over to my girls when they were young. Loved it!

  5. literaryfriendships says:

    Roxaboxen! My very favorite of all time! And some new-to-me books to explore here–thank you!

  6. Bonnie Eng says:

    Is it strange that I don’t know of any of these books? I guess I’ve been way to obsessed with growing my cookbook collection…I seriously need to venture out. I’m definitely going to check out at least a few of these, if not only for my niece! I think Roxaboxen will be my first stop! 🙂

  7. mwinne2 says:

    Some of these titles were new to me, and others were books I could not imagine a library without. Thanks for helping us all to relive an era of picture books we may have missed. In my case, I was 9+ yrs old, so these weren’t on my radar…. until becoming an elementary school teacher and, later, and teacher librarian and becoming OBSESSED with them!

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