11 Picture Books with Twist Endings Kids Won’t See Coming
by Janssen Bradshaw
In her pre-child life, Janssen was an elementary school librarian. Now she stays home with her four little girls and is constantly maxing out her library card with picture books, cookbooks, and young adult novels. She’s anxiously counting down the days until her girls are old enough to read the Little House on the Prairie books. You can find Janssen over on her blog, Everyday Reading, where she celebrates modern motherhood with a practical twist.
These are fun... enjoy!
Is there anything better than a twist ending?
We’ve all had that moment where the last seconds of a movie take us completely by surprise (“The Sixth Sense,” I’m looking at you!) or a book where at the last possible moment, the person you thought was good turns out to be the villain, or vice versa.
And picture books don’t want to be left out of the fun either!
We’ve collected some of our favorite books with twist endings to surprise and delight both you and your children.
by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
I love anything Julia Donaldson writes and anything Helen Oxenbury illustrates, so it’s no surprise this one immediately earned a place on our bookshelf. In this retelling of a classic fable, Rabbit arrives back at his cozy burrow to a booming voice coming out of his home, declaring “I’m the Giant Jumperee and I’m scary as can be!” It takes all of Rabbit’s friends to get to the bottom of this mystery and the resolution is sweet and surprising!
- The Forgetful Knight
by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Fred Blunt
Knights and dragons have gone together for centuries, but in this combination, the narrator can’t remember quite how the story goes. Will he remember the details of the daring sword fight (or was it a sandwich fight...)? This laugh-out-loud book will delight you all.
by Michael Rex
Pete needs someone to play with. So when a monster arrives, Pete is over the moon. He can’t wait to play cars and pirates. Then we discover the monster isn’t actually there to play. He’s there to EAT PETE! But will he?
by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small
During a trip the aquarium, Elliot decides he REALLY wants a penguin. And happily, his father says of course. It turns out, though, that his father might have been thinking of bringing home a stuffed plush penguin, not a real-life one.
by Julia Sarcone-Roach
This book became an instant favorite when it was published. The narrator wants to make sure you understand what happened to your missing sandwich. You see, there was this bear. He got lost. He found your sandwich. And then ... well, you know what happened next. Or do you?
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
From the author of the beloved Lunch Lady graphic novels comes a tale that is equally uproarious. Josh decides to wear a paper bag over his head to school. His mother, his bus driver, even his soccer coach disapprove. They can’t figure out WHY Josh would be hiding his head. You’ll have to read it to find out.
by Keiko Kasza
If your child loves the format of the beloved If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, they’ll love this one too. When a hat lands in the woods, each woodland creature that finds it thinks they know just how to use it and claims it for their own. But that hat keeps moving on, only to be used in new creative ways!
by Cirocco Dunlap, illustrated by Olivier Tallec
Don’t get excited. This book will not be fun. The serious mouse narrator is going to make sure that it’s nothing but staring at beige walls and silently waiting for the book to end. But when a bunch of hilarious things start appearing on the pages, the mouse finds that he might not be able to resist forever.
by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Liz Climo
Who wouldn’t want a unicorn? When a little boy uses a wishing well to get himself a pet unicorn, he thinks it is going to be great. But actually, it’s kind of the worst. When the boy finally wishes the unicorn gone, you’d think he learned his lesson. Right?
by Elanna Allen
A tiny fish swims by, minding his own business. Then an octopus arrives and starts playing with the little fish, clearly with the intent of swallowing him whole when the games are finished. But when snack time comes along, we find out that the tiny fish isn’t quite what he seems.
by Jon Klassen
The bear’s hat is gone. He’s determined to get it back, visiting each animal and asking if they’ve seen his missing hat. Just when all hope is lost, a deer wanders by and asks a question that reminds the bear of where his hat might have gone. The ending of this bestseller isn’t at all what you’d expect.
What picture books with twist endings have become your kids’ storytime favorites? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope you check these books out and enjoy sharing them with your kids. They are all quirky and fun and surely will bring a smile to you whether you're young or old. Have a great weekend everyone. Please come back on Monday and join me as we start a brand-new week of wonderful books to share together.
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