This is a bold statement, but I think Barbara Helen Berger's When the Sun Rose is my favorite picture book of all time.
It is a very simple, short, sweet story about two friends spending the day together, but the images and words are so striking and beautiful, you immediately get completely swept up. I've used this book in a number of my Songwriting for Kids classes, and each time I turn the page, there is a quiet intake of breath from the whole group. Ms. Berger is a master at creating a sense of wonder.
It seems that when I walk into the kids section in a bookstore, I am just bombarded by books that are trying to grab my attention with as many bright colors, images, action, and glitz as they possibly can (check out Fuse #8's great September review of Not a Box for more on this topic). So I love it when I come across a book that leaves me with a sense of calm and wonder. When the Sun Rose is a rare and breathtaking example of this. Take your time with each page, absorbing each one...I guarantee you will close the book feeling refreshed and renewed. It is a great gift.
Now here's the bad news: this book is out of print. You can still find a few used copies on Amazon or at AbeBooks.com. But check your library, and if they don't have it, get it on interlibrary loan. Do what you have to do, but find this book. And if you happen to run into dead ends all around, check out Barbara Helen Berger's Grandfather Twilight instead (a perfect bedtime book which deserves a blog post all its own...so stay tuned).
For more about Barbara Helen Berger and her beautiful work, visit her official website.