Our offBEATS are…well…offbeat. They’re the kind of obscure books your kids will remember in years to come, and think: “That was a creepy story, but also pretty spectacular!” These weird and wonderful books stick with us, and influence us in more ways than we can imagine!
All My Friends Are Planets
By Alisha Vimawala, Troy Nelson (illustrator)
Less outlandish, and more about planets making friends with other planets that just don’t fit in, this quirky book is great for introducing themes of acceptance while also shoehorning in a little astrophysics. Great for ages 4+.
Hortense and the Shadow
By Natalia O’Hara, Lauren O’Hara (illustrator)
This otherworldly fairytale written and illustrated by the O’Hara sisters is deliciously unusual and compelling at the same time. There are certainly age-appropriate dark and frightening elements, as in any traditional tale, but it is reassuring to read about this strong and independent girl’s journey of self-discovery. It also makes a beautiful hardcover gift.
Outside Over There
By Maurice Sendak
This is a beautiful, lyrical gem from my childhood, and is now a firm favorite. I still love to read this one aloud. Of course it is horribly creepy (goblins kidnapping infant baby siblings through an open window anyone?) but children never seem to worry about that kind of thing in the same way adults do. Great for any children 4+ not prone to nightmares.
By Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (illustrator)
Another one that can be seen as hilarious or sinister depending on the reader/day/page. The rhythm and rhyme is really fun, the concept is off-the-wall, and McKean’s artwork is both playful and disturbing at the same time, but it does get requested again and again. Just, perhaps not before bedtime! Ages 3 +
Shh! We Have a Plan
By Chris Haughton
$8.99 (board book)
We loved Little Owl Lost, and Oh No George! so we weren’t at all surprised to find that Shh! We Have a Plan was weird and wonderful as well. The story has the kind of repetitive, predictable pattern to it that preschoolers delight in, with the youngest of the motley crew of characters being the most sensible. Readers 3+ will love this one.
The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots
By Beatrix Potter, Quentin Blake (illustrator)
When we first heard that Quentin Blake was due to illustrate a newly discovered Beatrix Potter manuscript, we were very skeptical. How could the artwork compete with Potter’s own carefully composed drawings? But, after reading it, we had to concede that this is a pretty amazing pairing. The tale itself is somewhat gruesome and baffling – but the words, as ever, are classic Potter, with a bit of a Machiavellian twist. Great for ages 5+, but perhaps not one for the traditionalists!