Tag Archives: life on mars

eight surprise endings

Endings are crucial in picture books. They can be sweet. They can be silly. They can be…surprising!

Here are eight recent picture books that pack wonderful surprise endings. (But I won’t give them away here, except in one case and I’ll give you a spoiler alert for that!)



Polar Bear’s Underwear by tupera tupera (2015).

I adore this book! A mouse is helping Polar Bear find his lost underwear. Each page has a cut-out that shows somebody’s underwear on the next page and the reader can guess whose it is. But it’s usually not Polar Bear’s! Not until the surprising end, which feels like a magic trick. (Also, underwear is inherently funny.)



Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen (2016).

This book has a wonderful sense of scale and color as well as inventive typeface. Plus, an underdog to root for. And then, a delightful reversal I didn’t see coming on a first read. Captivating in every way.








Toto’s Apple by  Mathieu Lavoie (2016).

I adore this inventive, quirky story so much. It’s all about Toto the worm trying to get a hard to reach apple in a nearby tree. Toto “gets busy” with a few different creative tricks to get closer to the apple. But the ending, well, you probably won’t see it coming, and that’s why it’s so very satisfying.








It’s Great Being a Dad by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by Gina Perry (2017).

[spoiler alert!]

The image below kind of gives away the surprise. Essentially, you’re following all these wonderful creatures talking about what’s great and not so great about being a unicorn or Bigfoot or robot, but then it turns out the creatures were really kids, playing in their imaginations. And then, there’s a final spread that’s a pretty fun surprise for the dad in the book too.



Don’t Wake Up the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup (2016).

A bunch of animals are trying to step over the tiger to avoid waking the big cat. They even enlist the use of balloons in order to float to safety! But, in the end they do wake him up. And you might not expect what happens next.











Charlotte and the Rock by Stephen W. Martin, illustrated by Samantha Coterill (2017).

Charlotte wants a pet so very badly. So badly that even a large pet rock will do. Charlotte becomes quite attached to the rock, but it can’t love her back. Until the surprise end of course.








A Hungry Lion by Lucy Ruth Cummins (2016).

Remember the lion cake craft my guy and I made for this one? Possibly my favorite craft ever. This mischievous, clever book is full of numerous twists and turns!







Life on Mars by Jon Agee (2017).

Yet another book I completely adore and admire. The main character experiences a few surprises along the way, but the ending is one for the reader right along with him.










And finally, a few other books with terrific endings!

Extra Yarn, of course! A Brave Bear ends beautifully and Swan’s close is unusual and sad and bittersweet. I also love Friend or Foe‘s ending for its ambiguity.

Any surprise or otherwise satisfying endings that come to mind for you? Please share in the comments!