Kids books with any of these elements
October 8, 2019 7:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning a new book for my son, but I feel like the story lacks something isn't quite hanging together. I'd like to read other similar genre story to get a sense of the tropes. Here are some elements. Please list other picture books that have similar elements. Obviously no book will have all elements, looking for books that have any, not all. 1) A magical quest 2) Driving a magical vehicle 3) Finding lost items 4) passing through different landscapes 5) possibly a guide character 6) meeting lots of different characters along the way.

1) A magical quest
Think passing through a magic door, finding a road leading into your closet, jumping into a book or painting etc.

2) Driving a magical vehicle

Let's say, a Groovy Streetcar, but presumably books would have others. Anything: magic carpets, Balloons, obviously any kind of enchanted or super cool motor vehicle.

3) Finding lost items
Let's say 4 groovy buttons, just for the sake of argument. But other books might have other lost things that are being located.

4) passing through different landscapes
This is still pretty open, but think forest, jungle, tundra, mountains, etc.

5) possibly a guide character

Like let's say the person who lost the buttons, but could be any sort of 'wise" or groovy sort of person.

6) meeting lots of different characters along the way.
Like let's say either family members or toys-come-to-life but the in the books it would be whoever. I already asked a question similar to this for the last book I worked on. I don't want to link the finished book, but if anyone wants to see it, send me a memail.

Just FYI: I would make the book in Photoshop and InDesign, have two copies printed (one to give him, one to save in mint condition for when he's old enough to appreciate it), and give it to him for Christmas. I'm not planning on selling or marketing this book as there would obviously be some issues with that.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Phantom Tollbooth
posted by banishedimmortal at 7:32 AM on October 8 [15 favorites]


I don't know if this skews older than you're looking for, but The Phantom Tollbooth has quite a few of the elements you're looking for, if memory serves me right. (on preview, jinx!)
posted by SeedStitch at 7:33 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


You just described my vague adult recollection of what I read as a youth in Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles.
posted by spacewrench at 7:35 AM on October 8


Sorry to threadsit...really looking for picture books, since the tropes/structure are very different from books for older kids.

But now that two people have mentioned it, I actually do have a copy of the Phantom Tollbooth and will skim it. i haven't read it since I was a kid.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:35 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Whispering in the Wind has all of those elements.

As a kid I remember being particularly taken with the Willy Willy Man, who got about in a duststorm; always had a bit of trouble starting it because it was a two-stroke.

Possibly text-heavier than you're after, but the illustrations really are gorgeous.
posted by flabdablet at 7:38 AM on October 8


Also The Magic Pudding will be worth your while.
posted by flabdablet at 7:41 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Where The Wild Things Are might be more like the minimal-text, one-picture-per-page format it sounds like you're probably after.
posted by flabdablet at 7:48 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Stardust by Neil Gaiman isn't a picture book but there is a really nice illustrated edition (sorry can't link right now but should be easily findable.)
posted by capnsue at 7:56 AM on October 8


Russell Hoban's The Rain Door has many of your elements. It might be hard to find in a library, but here is another page that has a bit of plot description.
posted by Redstart at 7:56 AM on October 8


Quest/landscapes - We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Magic Vehicle - Room on the Broom
Meeting lots of characters - The Gruffalo
(I'd say the various Julia Donaldson books cover quite a few of these ideas)
posted by crocomancer at 8:07 AM on October 8


Journey is a wordless picture book about travels between many landscapes.
posted by gideonfrog at 8:07 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Oh, for picture books, a lot of books by Mark Teague have at least a few of these elements. The first one that came to mind was The Lost and Found (school kids go looking for a lost item in the lost and found and end up in another world and have to get back) but Moog-Moog, Space Barber includes intergalactic travel for a haircut and both Pirate Jamboree and One Halloween Night have magic/quest elements. Also the illustrations are great and most of the books feature at least some nonwhite main characters.
posted by SeedStitch at 8:17 AM on October 8


I'm not sure how old your child is. Mine is 6 and has been enjoying The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo for the past 2-3 years. It definitely has items 3-6. You can read the first chapter here.
posted by jillithd at 8:37 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


For a picture book, In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak hits some of your tropes.
posted by LizardBreath at 8:44 AM on October 8


The "Magic Schoolbus" picture books meet many of your requirements. (Eccentric teacher takes her class on wild field trips - inside the human body, to the bottom of the ocean, to outer space - in a magical, transforming school bus.)
posted by belladonna at 9:11 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Nobody likes a goblin
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:34 AM on October 8


Shazira Shazam And The Devil, perhaps? This fascinated me as a child; the "devil" in question is depicted as a camel who turns up to serve as the guide for an old wizard in a vaguely "fairy-tale version of the Arab subcontinent" village, offering to carry him on a trip to "see the world". But what is pitched as a pleasant jaunt turns into a chaotic, way-too-fast pell-mell sprint, and the suggestion is that Shazira Shazam is going to be trapped there forever. He does come up with a way to try to escape about midway through, enlisting some friends in a sort of con-job trick, and you think maybe it worked until... really gorgeous illustrations, that one.

David Weisner's Tuesday may be a stretch on the "magic vehicle" angle, but it's too goofily fun not to mention. It is nothing but pictures, showing the goings-on when on a random evening all of the frogs near a small town suddenly realize that their lily pads have turned into flying carpets.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:37 AM on October 8


Oh, and The Tyger Voyage! A kids' book by Richard Adams. A pair of anthropomorphic tigers set out from Edwardian London on a voyage of discovery. It's in verse, and there's a couple of "exotic natives" moments that may feel a teeny bit oogy today, but the illustrations are also lovely.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:40 AM on October 8


The Polar Express has the magical quest, magical vehicle and passing through different landscapes elements. (But the boy doesn't get to drive the train, only ride on it.)
posted by Redstart at 9:46 AM on October 8


Well, you didn’t say they had to be good books, so...you’ve described most episodes (and picture-book versions of episodes) of Dora the Explorer.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:40 AM on October 8


Definitely Journey by Aaron Becker, as well as the sequel, Quest. I haven't yet seen Return. Even though they are wordless they check pretty much all of your boxes, especially Quest (which is not as good), because it has more landscapes and more characters.
posted by vunder at 2:02 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Many of Mr. Men books have a lot of those elements. Wizards appear with some regularity to drive the narrative.

Also the Harold and the Purple Crayon books also seem to fit though aside from the crayon and abrupt transitioning, not too much obvious magic, more magical i guess
posted by ixipkcams at 7:41 PM on October 8


Thanks, all, keep them coming. My son is almost 2.5, so I really am looking for picture books not chapter books, though I might look at an absolutely perfect chapter book. I really feel like the structure of storytelling is different in picture books, though.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:51 PM on October 8


Weslandia has a landscape
posted by azalea_chant at 9:02 PM on October 8


Oh and tar beach by faith ringgold
posted by azalea_chant at 9:05 PM on October 8




Where is the Cake (lost item, open landscape, meeting people)
Where Is The Cake Now? (lost item, open landscape, meeting people)
Bunny Bus (groovy vehicle,meeting people)
The Witch's Children And The Queen (magical quest, groovy vehicle, meeting people)
Many of the Katie books by James Mayhew involve jumping into paintings and meeting the subjects (magical quest,meeting people). Katie In London involves a ride through London on a lion (groovy vehicle)
Up The Mountain Path (open landscape, guide character, meeting characters along the way)

(All of the above are picture books.)
posted by yankeefog at 3:11 AM on October 9


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