5 Picture Books That Won’t Fit on Your Bookshelf But You Should Get Anyway

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Karina Glaser

Contributing Editor

Karina Yan Glaser is a full-time writer and illustrator with a varied career teaching and implementing literacy programs in family homeless shelters and recruiting healthcare professionals to volunteer in under-resourced areas around the world. Karina is the New York Times bestselling author of the middle grade books, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two daughters, and an assortment of rescued animals. One of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can't go anywhere without a book. Website:; Twitter: @KarinaYanGlaser; Instagram: @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting

The picture book is an incredible art form. Like a haiku, or trying to move a napping baby from the stroller to the crib without waking her up, a great picture book has precision and thoughtfulness and care.

A picture book should be easy to access on the bookshelf and fit comfortably into a tote bag or child’s backpack for easy transportation.

Or should it?

It’s no secret that we at Book Riot love big books (check out the mug that proclaims that very fact). Picture books are no exception. For these five books, I’m glad everyone involved in the picture book making process broke the rules about size. I present to you five lovely (oversized!) pictures books. They might not fit on your bookshelves, but maybe they won’t have to because they’ll be out on your coffee table, propped up on the end table, or kept opened up on the rug surrounded by children (and adults) who love beautiful books.

365 Penguins by Joelle Jolivet365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet

You should get this book because, well, penguins! Jean-Luc Fromental and Joëlle Jolivet capture the penguin’s quirkiness to perfection. The story begins when a penguin shows up outside the door of a family’s home. The next day another penguin arrives. And on day three…I think you can guess what happens. The book is filled with fun math equations and clues, and about halfway through the book a penguin arrives that is not like the others.


Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel MizielinskiMaps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

There’s no real story within the covers of Maps, but then again, there is. Each spread is a beautiful full-color country map with drawings of animals, famous buildings, plant life, natural wonders, popular food, and other fun depictions of life in that country. There are also drawings of boys and girls in traditional and contemporary outfits. Look for Abasi and Neema in Tanzania, Francesca and Ricardo in Italy, and Ólafur and Aníta in Iceland.


A Lion in Paris by Beatrice AlegmanaA Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alegmana

This book is wide rather than tall, which makes it a wonderful medium for the broad landscapes of Paris. The artist incorporates drawings and collage to create a truly stunning book. Follow the path of a lonesome lion who decides to seek his own excitement by going to Paris. He sees the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, Montmartre, and the Métro, but can he find what he’s really looking for?

Animalium by Jenny Broom and illustrated by Katie Scott

Animalium by Jenny Broom and illustrated by Katie Scott

This is a perfect pick for children who have to be dragged out of the Natural History Museum at closing time. The pages are filled with detailed, beautiful drawings by London-based artist and curator Katie Scott. Printed on heavyweight cream papers, sifting through the treasures in this book will feel like peeking into the journals and logs of naturalists from the 1800s.




Zoo-ology by Emmanuelle Grundman and illustrated Joëlle Jolivet

Zoo-ology by Emmanuelle Grundman and illustrated Joëlle Jolivet

This is a whopper of a book. At 17.8 inches tall and 12.4 inches wide, it’s perfect to open up on a cozy carpet. Each page is classified in a unique way, such as “Underground,” “Black and White,” and “Spots and Stripes.” And for kids (and adults) who enjoy searches, try to find the chameleon on each spread.




Do you have books that defy your bookshelves? How do you store them? Which are your favorites?


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