It’s a magical time of year, so here are 13 picture books that capture a variety of mysterious or marvelous stories, tricks, happenings, places, creatures—magic that only picture books can conjure.
Magic: Once Upon a Faraway Land by Mirelle Ortega (2022).
This picture book is a beautiful account of a place and the people who live there, inspired by the author-illustrator’s home in Veracruz, Mexico. It infuses Mirelle Ortega’s heart and art and story with the magic that’s uniquely home.
“I learned that magic isn’t good or bad, it just is. Sometimes it gives. Sometimes it takes. Sometimes it blossoms. Sometimes it wilts.”
Chirri & Chirra In the Night by Kaya Doi (translated from the Japanese by David Boyd) (November 2022).
I confess I haven’t read this one yet (out next month!), but I adore the entire series. This duo always has magical nature-themed adventures on the their bikes, but this one seems fitting for our post as it’s set in the glow of the moon at night! Every title with these two stars is an absolute dream.
Hat Tricks by Satoshi Kitamura (2020).
A delight of a rabbit-and-a-hat picture book—with each magic word the main character says, what animal will emerge with Hattie’s magic? It’s your guess!
Looking for a Jumbie written by Tracey Baptiste, illustrated by Amber Ren (2021).
Naya’s nighttime adventure-quest is filled with a wonderful cast of Caribbean folklore characters our fearless main character meets along the way in this luminously illustrated picture book with a spirit of spookiness and story.
Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest by Phoebe Wahl (2021).
Four seasonal stories with a little witch plus imaginary creatures and community galore. It’ll make you want to take a walk in the woods and search for sprites—or curl up with some tea and berries for a magical daydream.
Strum & Drum: A Merry Little Quest by Jashar Awan (2022).
These two darling musicians embark on a clever escapade in this winter holiday picture book that has a wonderfully inventive ending that will make you want to read and strum and drum again and again.
Berry Magic written by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon, illustrated by Teri Sloat (2004).
Brought to picture book form from “a very short story told out loud to Yup’ik children,” Anana enlists magical help to create tasty berries for a fall festival’s treats.
Hocus Pocus Practice Focus: The Making of a Magician written by Amy Kimlat, illustrated by Srinidhi Srinivasan (October 2022).
A super sweet story about what it takes to learn to be a magician (or become a wizard-in-training at any craft) with help from a dual-role mentor the main character admires. Written by a former child magician and with a foreword by a famous one (David Copperfield!).
First Snow by Bomi Park (2016).
A gentle, captivating middle-of-the-night-quiet book about a kid who wakes up in wonder, follows snowfall, and finds absolute magic (giant snowballs, more children!) waiting in the woods.
This Magical Musical Night words by Rhonda Gowler Greene, pictures by James Rey Sanchez (2021).
An introduction to the instruments of an orchestra that sways and rhymes and dances in all kinds of starry, dazzling settings.
Number Circus by Květa Pacovská (2014).
This picture book is simply wow with bold, interactive art, numbers, colors, and pure magic.
The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by (2021).
An enchanting, tremendously inventively-told fairy tale with sibling love at its center.
The Lost Library by Jess McGeachin (2020).
A story-fond adventure with friendship, a librarian, and a book dragon—where books save the day of course.
Thank you for sharing these beautiful books! Now that my children are grown, I feel a bit out of the loop when it comes to children’s books, and now my grandchildren are ready for magic!