Which are the most beautiful (or weird/furry/ugly) children’s books?

Having sort of completed my recent library efforts in which I collated a list of people’s favourite children’s books for a library, I’m now after intriguing books — those that contain good stories AND also happen to be either gorgeous, crazy, or striking to look at, pick up, or stroke. Maybe even the most ugly books…

My initial budget allowed for secondhand paperbacks; now I need a handful of books that speak to the children the moment they walk in, luring them in, calling, ‘Come and get me!’ (But silently. Shhh.)

And everything has to cost nearly nothing, even though I’m craving some really expensive books — they’ll have to be gifts (hint, hint) because I have about five quid left, and a few books still to buy. Totally brilliant, good-as-new, second-hand hardbacks with free P&P would be a dream. 

Things like these:


Where’s the Dragon by Richard Hook is a hardback, with embossed pages that tell of a grandfather and grandson going on a dragon hunt. The beautiful illustrations of hills and valleys hide, between the rocks and within the trees, about 70 semi-camouflaged dragons that only children can see.

‘Can you see the moon?’

‘That’s not a moon, that’s an eye!’

‘Eh? That’s a moon…’ (to giggles).

And so on. It’s gorgeous — even I enjoyed trying to find the dragons; the children adore it. It’s also a nice, big colourful book that calls right out from the shelf. This costs about £3 on AbeBooks so I have it on order, yey.

Mango and Bambang (very nice little girl and her tapir friend adventuring in the city) is a dinky little book, pocket sized even if your pockets aren’t very big, but the thing that makes it stand out, aside from the little retro ink drawings, are the purple-edged pages. Really, that’s all it takes — purple deckchair stripes and purple-edges pages and this little book is PRETTY. Try not to love it.

Again, AbeBooks are sending a copy for less than a fiver.

Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book by Terry Jones — I’m including this because it’s the type of book I love, but not using this actual one for the library, mostly because it’s full of squashed fairy boobs and arses (and all), and the handwritten notes include all sorts of spelling, and school would throw a fit. Or they might. But as a pretty padded hardback with retro illustrations (and hilarious but grim read) this rocks for a home library (if you’re ok with squashing fairies violently and then laughing at their squished backsides — look inside here). OK, moving on… 

Harry Potter, The Monster Book of Monsters. I’m not going to lie, I want this (even though I’ve never seen it). Would it be rude to ask you to buy it and send it to me? Because it’s $295 (plus P&P) but look, it comes with a special brown leatherette edition of The Creature Vault – The Creatures and Plants of the Harry Potter Films. What’s not to love? Except the price tag. Did you spot the link above? Here it is again. (You don’t have $300 in loose change? Not to worry.) If I win the lottery (and not just a tenner, I mean more than the price of the book), I’ll be giving them a copy of this, just because when children enter a library, a little fear will make it a much more immersive learning experience, and wahay more fun. And it’s FURRY.

And classic, posh hardbacks — preferably ones with lovely leaf illustrations. The Chronicles of Narnia are, for a library, probably best served as the seven separate paperbacks because carrying this baby home with the PE kits, coats, lunch boxes, artwork and water bottles might break Mummy. Still, it would be lovely to have a few nice, big classic books on the shelves, just to show the kids what really beautiful books look like and for them to read in the library. Hardbacks make a room look good.

What are your favourite, prettiest, classiest, or grooviest children’s books? The ones that jump out from the shelves? I’d love to hear your comments either here in the comments or on Twitter…



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