5 books to steal your imagination - by authors from around the world

Published on: 15 April 2018 Author: Ranjit Singh

Nimesh the Adventurer author Ranjit Singh knows it's not always easy to find diverse picture books, but he's picked five that are definitely worth seeking out.

Nimesh the Adventurer

When I first met Alice Curry, the founder of Lantana Publishing and editor of my picture book Nimesh the Adventurer, she spoke about the lack of culturally diverse voices in the world of children's picture books and Lantana's aim to introduce more variety. 

In line with their mission, I was asked to draw up a list of books that celebrate the power of the imagination, but featuring diverse characters or written by diverse authors. And after compiling the list, I can appreciate Lantana's mission even more.

It was a joy searching out some books to fit the theme, but admittedly difficult. Even where the books exist, their availability here in the UK proved a challenge.

But here are a few picture books that impressed me in one way or another - books that could sit alongside classics like Where the Wild Things Are or the various works of Dr. Seuss:

1. Journey Through Islamic Arts by Na'ima Bint Robert and Diana Mayo

Journey Through Islamic Arts

In her imagination, a child narrator flies around the world at night to visit architectural wonders. Robert's text is both descriptive and personal, and in Mayo's illustrations the buildings and landscapes are depicted with an enchanting balance of depth, stillness and movement.

2. Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Be A Friend

This is a very sweet meditation on loneliness and outreach, and Yoon builds up the story in a graceful and delightfully understated manner. Her illustrations have an endearing and distinctive style that is gently atmospheric and highly memorable.

3. Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

Rules of Summer

The contrast between Tan's sparse, suggestive text and highly evocative, surreal artwork creates an effect that is both ruminative and wonderful. The book has illustrations that place the characters some distance away amongst immense, dream-like settings, which gives them an almost mind-blowing effect.

Read our review of Rules of Summer

4. Two Can by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Ben Javens

Two Can

I really like Javen's bright illustrations, which have an almost retro feel. And Smriti's short, snappy narration style has a playful effect, giving the text the flow of a game of tag. I think this is the kind of book children would delight in reading with each other.

Read our review of Two Can

5. Her Idea by Rilla Alexander

Her Idea

This book is wonderful. The bright images, full of movement, are a joy to look at. Along with the pacing and the delightful flowing text, I was really drawn into Sozy's (or is it Rilla's?) world. I really liked all the fascinating creatures, big and small, that surround her in her imagination. I can picture this making a wonderful animated feature.

Read our review of Her Idea

Which picture books from around the world do you enjoy? Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting us @BookTrust!

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Our review

Nimesh the Adventurer

Author: Ranjit Singh Illustrator: Mehrdokht Amini

This captivating picture book will delight young children, encouraging them to invent their own imaginative adventures. The striking collage illustrations contain vibrancy and depth, drawing the reader into Nimesh’s exciting fantasy world.

Read more about Nimesh the Adventurer

More about Lantana Publishing

Why diverse books are so important

Lantana Publishing founder Alice Curry reveals how she was inspired to set up her company - and why all children should be able to see themselves in books.


10 classic diverse children's books

Writer and former Playdays presenter Trish Cooke looks back on the books that played an important role for her children - and are having the same impact today.