Play Pen: New Children's Book Illustration is a compilation book that showcases lots of great work by several contemporary illustrators.
I enjoy the distinctly international vibe of this book. There are artists in here from all over the world, and you don't really need to read the text to catch this aspect— it's evident from first flip-through. The variety of art is distinct and refreshing. Different countries have different aesthetics in different genres of art, media and culture, and in children's publishing as well.
The biographies on each artist are also the perfect length: long enough to convey a depth of information enough for you to gain an understanding of the artist, but short enough to keep your interest for the entire block of copy, without the text fighting the artwork for your attention.
All in all, Play Pen is a great addition to my bookshelf, one I go back to again and again as a source of information and inspiration.