Photography in Picture Books

A picture is worth a thousand words — or so the saying goes.

Photography has always had the ability to convey stories, but it seems as though in the modern era of Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, (and the list goes on)….we’ve taken visual storytelling to a whole new level.  Your niece’s first ever snowman.  Your best friend’s failed attempt at lemon meringue pie.  Your brother buried in sand up to his neck while on vacation in the Bahamas.  Everyone’s got a camera in their pocket, and even the smallest of moments are captured for everyone to see.

We’re all a bit photography obsessed, which is why it’s no surprise that the latest trend in children’s picture books seems to be photography illustration.  Sure, photographs have dominated the nonfiction scene for decades, but only recently has the art form moved into the world of fiction in a big way.

Check out these amazing picture books that feature real-world photography in very creative ways!

The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose
You may think you know what squirrels do all day…but Mr. Peanuts is no ordinary squirrel. Instead of climbing tress, he plays the piano.  Instead of scurrying through the woods, he reads books; but everything is more fun with company, so Mr. Peanuts writes a letter to Cousin Squirrel and invites him for a visit!  Featuring candid photographs of wild squirrels in handcrafted, homemade miniature settings.

Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border
What’s a little piece of bread to do when he’s feeling lonely? Find a friend, of course!  And that’s exactly what Peanut Butter tries to do. But sometimes friends are hard to come by, especially when Hamburger has to walk his (hot) dogs, Cupcake is too busy building castles in her sprinkle box, and Egg laughs so hard he starts to crack up! Does Peanut Butter have a soul mate? Young readers will know the answer long before Peanut Butter does and laugh along with each mismatched pairing.

Flo & Wendell Explore by William Wegman
Flo thinks the family’s last vacation together was just grand. Her little brother, Wendell, thinks it was absolutely terrible. So, being the good big sister that she can sometimes be, Flo has agreed to take Wendell on his very own camping adventure. They’re going to go canoeing, fishing, and hiking—well, as best they can in the comfort of their neighborhood.  Wegman has become well known for his dog photography, and in this creative follow-up to Flo & Wendell, he starts with dogs and creates worlds around them.

Nancy Knows by Cybèle Young
Nancy knows she’s forgotten something. Something important. When she tries to remember, she thinks of all kinds of other things instead. She remembers things she knows and things she doesn’t quite know. She remembers things one way, then another. Sometimes she remembers with her ears or her stomach or even her heart. But Nancy knows she’s still forgetting something. It’s only when Nancy stops thinking altogether that she finally remembers the very important thing she’s forgotten. Nancy Knows is the charming story of an elephant who remember lots of things, except the very thing she is trying to remember. Each spread of this whimsical picture book features fantastic miniature paper sculptures within expressive outlines of a puzzled elephant.

Swim Duck Swim by Susan Lurie
It’s time for Duckling to jump in the water and do what ducks do—swim! But he doesn’t want to get wet. He’d rather take a nap. And he’s really, really mad that everyone keeps telling him what to do!  Luckily, Mama and Papa Duck are very, very patient, and soon, Duckling will join his siblings in the pond. Here is a charming story, illustrated with exquisite, up-close photos, that will help young readers learn to swim—or try anything new.

I Wish I Had a Pet by Maggie Rudy
Who hasn’t yearned for the perfect pet? The mice in this book–hand-sewn and inhabiting enchanting, diorama-style scenes–know all about critter care, and they’re here to share wise words about choosing and keeping animal companions.  Whimsical images of the mice with their own petite pets, including bumblebees, ladybugs, and butterflies, complement the warm humor of this extraordinary picture book that’s like no other!


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