two picture books for the little thinker in your life

If the little reader in your life is less than impressed with tall tales of derring-do and/or anthropomorphic cars and dump trucks, let me recommend two quieter picture books. They're excellent for the little thinkers and serious small ones – and the gorgeous illustrations will please adults and children alike.

look, it's raining by mathieu pierloot, illustrated by maria dek
It's Sunday, and Camille, having finished her school work, is feeling a little bored. Her parents are busy with their own projects, so she puts on her raincoat and goes outside to play. Suddenly she hears the thunder roar, and shivers with excitement. She sticks out her tongue to catch raindrops. They taste like clouds. She notices a group of red ants zigzagging along a trail and asks "Where are you going?" The ants reply, "We're going to a show." Camille embarks on an adventure to discover what the show is about and the astounding beauty to be found by closely observing her surroundings.

The last time I visited with my best friend and her two little ones, it was on a rainy September afternoon, and I brought several picture books with me. A surprise favorite with the three-year-old boy was Look, It’s Raining by Mathieu Pierloot, illustrated by Maria Dek. I don’t know if it was due to the day’s rainy weather, just like in the book, or Dek’s watercolor illustrations (and their myriad details), but he was enthralled, reading by himself without knowing any of the words. If a high-energy, go-go-GO! boy can slow down and appreciate this title, I know more contemplative personalities will enjoy it too.


Look, It’s Raining is about exactly what you’d expect – noticing the natural world on a rainy day, and all of the little joys and wonders in it. The bugs are putting on a show, the thunder roars, and Camille, the protagonist, takes it all in while wearing her yellow rain slicker, and then returns to her warm, snug home a little more enlightened and less bored.


Recommended for: rainy day reading for little ones ages two and up, and those who value observing the beauties of the natural world.

little cheetah's shadow by marianne dubuc cover
Little Cheetah's shadow is missing. When Little Cheetah finds him and learns that Little Shadow is sad because he never gets to go first, Little Cheetah is happy to switch places. As they travel about their neighborhood, Little Cheetah is surprised to learn how hard it can be to follow. Eventually they decide that walking side-by-side is much better, and when they go through a scary tunnel on the way home, they discover they can face the dark together. Little Cheetah's Shadow is a sweet tale of friendship, empathy, and the importance of seeing things from a different perspective, rendered in Marianne Dubuc's warm and inviting illustrations.

In case you’ve never encountered them before, I’ll warn you: Marianne Dubuc’s picture books are sweet, short, and charming, with cozy-beautiful illustrations. Little Cheetah's Shadow is no exception. In it, Little Cheetah has lost his shadow. When he finally finds him, Little Shadow is dejected, and lets Little Cheetah know it’s because he never gets to go first, and Little Cheetah closes the door on his tail when they visit the bakery! Little Cheetah says that doesn’t sound nice, and the two switch places for the day – leading to some revelations and good friendship behavior (caring for others, checking in on them, and helping them when they are scared).


Little Cheetah’s Shadow is a satisfying tale with lovable characters and a wholesome message, and beautiful colored pencil-and-watercolor illustrations.


Recommended for: little ones ages 3-5, for bedtime story read alouds, and for teaching and modeling empathetic behavior between friends (and siblings!).

Fine print: I received finished copies of these titles from the publisher for review purposes. I did not receive any compensation for this post.

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