Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Detailed Illustrations

As I child, I loved books that had detailed illustrations I could pore over for hours. My most favorite was The Littles and Their Friends by John Peterson—not the chapter books, but an illustrated picture book that showed where (and how) each group of friends lived (under tree roots, at the garbage dump…). I can’t tell you how many hours I spent with that book.

As an adult, I discovered more books with detailed illustrations that I would have adored as a child such as Peter Spier's Circus (or any books by Peter Spier, People is another great one), any of the books in the Anno's Journey series (Anno's U.S.A. is a great one for our U.S. studies this year, but I’ve also collected Spain, Britain, and Italy—each has so many little hidden gems that adults can appreciate as well from history, art, and literature), What Do People Do All Day? (or any other Richard Scarry books), In the Town All Year 'Round, Through Time: London, and so many others. As you can see, I have a soft spot for them!

These books do not make excellent read-alouds. They are not for “get-to-the point, already” children. They are not ideal for children who are overwhelmed by a lot of detail. They are for children who will pore over them during quiet time, one-on-one, until the books become a part of the landscape of their imagination.

This past month we’ve enjoyed three more books with detailed illustrations.

:: The Way We Work: Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body

We’ve been studying the human body for the past few months, and a friend introduced us to this work by David Macaulay. We’ve enjoyed several other books by the author, most notably The Way Things Work, so I knew my boys would love this one as well. Macaulay draws fascinating illustrations and describes the body systems in a compelling way! (Some of you may want a heads-up that he indeed describes in detail the reproductive systems and how they work.)



:: Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet

This picture book alternates between hand-drawn illustrated pages (my personal favorite) and pages with photographs (more of a DK or Usborne style).

undergroundunderground 2


:: Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

This book has lovely thick papery pages, and works well as a read-aloud also.

illustrationsillustrations 2


Do you have favorite picture books with detailed illustrations?

Do your children spend time just looking at books?


Sarah M said...

My family (my engineer-brain son, especially) LOVES anything by David Maccauly. His building books are great, and there is an entire DVD series (each one is about 11-14 minutes long) following The Way Things Work book.
Sarah M

Pip said...

We love to pour over Stephen Biesty's cross-section picture books! -Pippa H.

Heidi said...

Sarah M~ We've watched the PBS show that went with his series of books Pyramid/Cathedral/Castle, but I didn't realize there were videos for The Way Things Work. I'll check those out. Thanks!

Pip~ Yes, Stephen Biesty's books are fantastic! He, too, has a human body one that is so fun.

Stephanie said...

I always love your book suggestions! I've had "The Way Things Work" floating around my amazon wish lists for a while and just snagged a used copy. Thanks for the reminder (especially since it's such a good fit for Cycle 3)!