The World of Imagination

Children’s imaginations fascinate me. When my nephew turned 3, my brother bought him one of those hummer electric cars, but being 3 years old, Alex was more scared of the car than excited. So being the creative and wonderful aunt that I am (just go with me here), I took the ginormous box that the hummer came in and cut out a door and some windows. That little box house became Alex’s private space for months afterwards. That’s the beauty of imagination. A box can become a fortress, a castle, or a little house to read and enjoy books with your aunt. Here are some books that celebrate children and animals with big imaginations.

In Henkes’ latest treasure, Little White Rabbit, the featured rabbit may be small, but he’s got a big imagination. As he hops along, he wonders what it would be like to fly like a butterfly or to be as tall as a tree or as green as the grass. When he’s scared by a cat, little rabbit runs to his mother, grateful for the safety of his home. Henkes’ colored pencil and acrylic illustrations evoke a sense of spring, but this title will be a joy all year round.

In Red Wagon, Lucy, an adorable fox with a pink bow, wants to play with her new wagon, but her mother needs her to run to the market to pick up vegetables. Lucy grudgingly begins her chore, and as she’s joined by friends, her chore becomes an adventure! Suddenly the wagon becomes a boat to sail through the ran, a covered wagon to transport pioneers, a circus wagon, and even a spaceship. When she returns home with the vegetables in her wagon, she’s put in a full days worth of play.

Based on his experiences with his own daughter, Tim Wadham debuts a clever story of make-believe in The Queen of France. Rose wakes up feeling royal and decides to become the Queen of France. She dons the beautiful necklaces and bracelets and goes to find Rose’s mother. Throughout the day, Rose alternates between being herself and the Queen of France, always asking her parents where the alternate persona went. The Queen of France offers to exchange places with Rose, but when she’s told that Rose’s mother would miss Rose “infinity times infinity,” the Queen of France decides to become Rose once and for all. The sweet rhythmic text begs to be read aloud time and time again.

In You’re Mean, Lily Jean!, Carly always played with her sister Sandy, until Lily Jean moves in next door and charms Sandy with her shiny red shoes and xylophone-playing ways. Lily Jean will let Carly play with them only if she plays the most demeaning roles–like the cow or the dog. Fed up with her roles, Carly takes matters into her hands. Denton’s artwork makes the character’s movements elegant and their faces full of expression. A great book to teach kids to stand up for themselves and how they should treat their friends.

Tusa depicts an ideal childhood in her lyrical masterpiece, Follow Me. The book starts off with a girl swinging from a tree and then her imagination takes off, lifting her into the sky and soaring among the birds. She “wanders through pink” and “gets lost in blue” and continues to fly in the skies before landing back in her own backyard with arms still outstretched and eyes closed, prolonging the experience. A great book for dreamers of any age.


Follow Me by Tricia Tusa. 2011.

Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes. 2011.

The Queen of France by Tim Wadham. 2011.

Red Wagon by Renata Liwska. 2011.

You’re Mean, Lily Jean! by Frieda Wishinsky. 2011.

Lindsey L.