Top Ten Tuesday: Picture Books I’d Want On A Deserted Island

It is Tuesday!  Which means Top Ten Tuesday hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish.  I love it!

My husband and I have read each one of the following books to my son a countless number of times at this points — and I think we’re up for reading them a countless number of times more.  So I think these’ll be a good choice if we could only take 10 onto a deserted island.  My son has never tired of any of the following books and I doubt he will tire of them anytime soon.  If the following books were the only books I had with me to read to my son on a deserted island, we’d be just fine.  Sure we’d miss all the other books in the world a lot — but I’d be so grateful that I had these.  We Highly, Highly Recommend all of the following books.

 1.  Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and Illustrated by Tony Fucile.  This is really a comic book disguised as a picture book — but so be it!  We love it! It is hilarious and sweet.  The vocabulary in it is excellent and my son will point his finger sometimes and say, “The finger has spoken.”  Which is a direct quote from Bink and Gollie.  There are other fun phrases like, “It’s a compromise bonanza!”  The whole book is wonderful and we all love it!

2.  Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty and Illustrated by David Roberts was the first picture book I checked out of the library for my son when he was about 11 months old.  I shortly purchased it thereafter.  We all have this book memorized.  The illustrations are beautiful and the rhythms and rhymes make this book so good.  It is my and my husband’s ideal picture book.  Fortunately for us, it appears to be my son’s ideal, too.  We’ve never gotten tired of reading this book and I doubt we ever will.

3.  The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.  This book is a beautiful picture book without text.  We’ve made up our own story and after telling it over and over and over again — we more or less have our own version of the story memorized.  My son LOVES to act out this story — and his favorite part is when the mouse chews through the rope.  We’ll put the laundry basket or blanket or whatever will work over our heads and the other one will pretend to chew the other one out of the blanket.  We’ll run from the owl that tries to catch the mouse in the beginning and we’ll run home to our babies at the end of the story.  My son has really absorbed this book and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I never tire of looking at the illustrations — it is truly a masterpiece.

4.  Usborne Illustrated Fairy Tales is phenomenal.  It has around 10 different fairy tales all told very well.  My son’s favorites are The Frog Prince and the Emperor and the Nightingale.  My favorite is The Swan Princess.  The stories are fairly mild compared to the original versions — but without cheapening the original version.  It works beautifully.  I can tell that a lot of thought went into this.  My son has been able to sit with me through the entire book and it is 352 pages long (not that the pages are all that long, but still it takes over an hour to get through the entire book).  Most nights we’ll read two or three stories.

 5.  A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard and Illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen This book is amazing.  The illustrations are elegant and inspiring and the writing is perfect.  This is a book I could happily read for the rest of my (hopefully long and happy) life.

“You whose journeys now begin,
if you reach a lovely inn,
if a rabbit makes your bed,
if two dragons bake your bread,
rest a little for my sake, 
and give my love to William Blake.”

6.  Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.  This was given to us by his grandparents last Christmas.  My father-in-law still claims it as one of his favorites.  It is the story of one man’s determination to keep his beloved steam shovel and that he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that she is okay.  Considering how much my son loves construction vehicles — it is the perfect book for him.  He loves this book and after we’ve finished reading it, he’ll ask for me to reread it to him — and we’ve had this book for almost a year.

7.  The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey and Illustrated by Stacy Curtis has been a huge hit at our house.  The stories are so well written and the illustrations are fun and interesting.  Every story teaches a lesson that I would love for my son to learn sooner rather than later in life.  These lessons serve as a great reminder for me, too.  I checked this book out from the library and my son was so sad when we had to return it that we bought it.  Admittedly, I didn’t think I’d like this book when I checked it out from the library — but both my son and I love it.  I was so surprised that my son could sit through the entire book, but he really enjoys this.  His title for this book is, “Sammy Squi-wrrel.” (Sammy Squirrel is the first character you’ll meet in this book.)

8.  Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin!  by Lloyd Moss and Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman  The rhyme and rhythm to this is unlike any other book I’ve read.  It took me reading it several times to be able to comfortably read this book, but once I got the hang of it — it has become my favorite read aloud book.  My son has large passages of this book memorized and it is wonderful and shocking to hear him say, “With mournful moan and silken tone itself along comes one trombone…”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing the first time he started reciting this book.  This book has lead to a lot of conversations about musical instruments and he can identify many instruments now and I’m sure it is from how much we’ve read this book.  It is so much fun.

9.  Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth always makes me feel more grounded and inspires me to keep trying to be a better person every day.  The book is several short stories connected by one continuous story about Stillwater, who is a panda, and his new friends.  Stillwater tells his new friends stories.  All of those stories have profound meanings and deep philosophical roots.  I think this book is probably a book for adults disguised as a picture book — and I couldn’t be more grateful.  If we were stuck on a deserted island, this book could help me keep a good perspective.  It’s a wonderful, wonderful book and he has other books too, like Zen Ties and Zen Ghosts and The Three Questions.  We really love Zen Ties and The Three Questions and are looking forward to reading Zen Ghosts.

10.  What Pete Ate From A – Z (Really!) by Maira Kalman was on my list last week and well, it is on my list again this week.  I love this book.  My son loves this book, too.  We have a great time reading it.  It is funny and the illustrations and writing are quirky and brilliant.  I always notice something new when reading this book.  It is hilarious hearing my son quote parts of this book.  “Buster says, ‘Nuts to Pete.'” or “Buster is no bargain, he barks all the time, but still.”  It’s just fun and different and is a very unique picture book experience.  What can I say, so far, I have loved many of the picture books I’ve read, but this one is definitely a favorite.

Happy Tuesday and Happy Reading!

Is there a picture book (or 10) you’d like to take with you? I’d love to know!


Where Obtained:  Public or Personal Library.

FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. cjfriess

    Thank you for all these wonderful suggestions, it is so hard to narrow it down to ten isn’t it?! Interesting that you included Usborne Fairy Tales, I’ve had my eye on that book for a while ;o


    • It is a great book, we really like it. (Obviously, if I’m willing to haul it onto a deserted island. ) 🙂 I’m surprised by how hard this list was to make. I started at about 50 and whittled my way down. 🙂 Have you thought about which ones you would want to take?


  2. I love Bink and Gollie! Have you read the second one? It was released not that long ago. It’s adorable.

    And The Lion and the Mouse! I love Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations. Gorgeous! If you like (or your son) likes wordless picture books, have you read Flotsam by David Weisner. It’s fun. It would be a good one for a deserted island.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • The second Bink and Gollie is good. I think a little violent-ish for our two year old at this point, but we’ll be revisiting it when he’s older. I’m hoping there will be more and more and more Bink and Gollie.

      We recently discovered Flotsam and love it! We’ve looked through it quite a few times now. I’m with you, it would definitely be a good one for a deserted island. 🙂


  3. Motherlode at the NY Times just asked this question, too. She limited it to one book and when I posted about it on my blog’s facebook page a reader commented that she was hyperventilating at the thought of being stranded on a desert island with 2 boys and only 1 book. I thought it was the perfect answer!


    • Yeah, hyperventilating is a completely appropriate response. I think my brain just shut down when I thought about picking only one book. Finally I decided if I had to pick only one it would be an how-to-illustrate-picture-books book and we’d all learn how to draw our own books in the sand with a stick. 🙂 Otherwise, I simply can’t choose.


  4. Both Zin, Zin, and Zen Shorts sound so delightful I just placed them on hold. Am looking forward to reading them both. FYI, according to the library’s catalog, there’s a video of Zin, Zin, Zin the Violin.


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