Most anticipated children's books of 2023 image
STARRED REVIEW
January 02, 2023

2023 preview: Most anticipated children’s books

These 15 picture books and middle grade novels are at the top of our TBR lists as we begin a new year of reading.
STARRED REVIEW
January 02, 2023

2023 preview: Most anticipated children’s books

These 15 picture books and middle grade novels are at the top of our TBR lists as we begin a new year of reading.
January 02, 2023

2023 preview: Most anticipated children’s books

These 15 picture books and middle grade novels are at the top of our TBR lists as we begin a new year of reading.
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2023 will yield a bumper crop of books for readers small and not-so-small, including new releases from Newbery Medalists Jerry Craft and Kwame Alexander, and collaborations between Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson, Grace Lin and Kate Messner, and Kelly DiPucchio and Loveis Wise.

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Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin and Kate Messner

Little, Brown | February 7

It’s difficult to imagine an author-illustrator dream team more thrilling than Kate Messner and Grace Lin, both of whom have proven their authorial expertise in picture books and novels alike. Their collaboration is an ode to imagination and the sheer joy of reading as only they could create together.

On Air With Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Katherine Tegen | February 14

Any new release from acclaimed middle grade author Janae Marks is cause for celebration, but a sequel to her bestselling debut novel, From the Desk of Zoe Washington, the story of a girl who dreams of becoming a successful baker and sets out to discover whether her father was wrongly incarcerated, has us doing happy dances in our office chairs. On Air With Zoe Washington finds the titular hero juggling new family dynamics and new challenges at the bakery.

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Finally Seen by Kelly Yang

Simon & Schuster | February 28

Kelly Yang burst onto the middle grade scene in a big way with her 2018 debut, Front Desk, which spent more than six months on the New York Times bestseller list and won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature. What’s even more impressive, though, is the momentum Yang has maintained ever since, publishing four more middle grade novels, two YA novels and a nonfiction picture book, Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country, featuring artwork by 15 illustrators. Yang shows no signs of slowing down in 2023, with two books on the way: Finally Seen, which follows a girl who immigrates to America from China five years after her parents and little sister, is coming in February; and Top Story, the fifth book in Yang’s Front Desk series, is scheduled for publication in the fall.

My Baba’s Garden by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith

Neal Porter | March 7

Author Jordan Scott and illustrator Sydney Smith’s first picture book together, 2020’s I Talk Like a River, was an extraordinary depiction of the bond between a young boy who stutters and his empathetic father. We loved it so much, in fact, that we named it one of our 10 best picture books of the year. Repeat collaborations between authors and illustrators tend to be exceptions in picture book publishing rather than the norm, so we were surprised and delighted to learn that Scott and Smith have created another picture book together, this one a sensitive exploration of the relationship between a boy and his grandmother. 

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams cover image

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams by Daniel Nayeri, illustrated by Daniel Miyares

Levine Querido | March 7

Daniel Nayeri’s 2020 middle grade novel, Everything Sad Is Untrue, broke him out in a big way, and for good reason. His mostly true story about an Iranian refugee named Khosrou who journeys to Oklahoma by way of Italy was inventive, hilarious and deeply moving. Among the honors it received were the Michael L. Printz Award and the Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature. Everything Sad Is Untrue took Nayeri 13 years to write, so we’re a little relieved that we only had to wait two and a half years for his next book, The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams, which follows a boy who travels the Silk Road with a fast-talking merchant.    

Twenty Questions by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Candlewick | March 14

We would be here all day if we offered a comprehensive list of all the awards and honors garnered by these two talented creators. Instead, we’ll just say that they’re two of the most successful and interesting people working in children’s literature today, and we’re over the moon that they’re making another book together after 2015’s Leo: A Ghost Story. We look forward to discovering Twenty Questions, and to the thoughtful and imaginative conversations it will surely inspire.

Remember cover image

Remember by Joy Harjo, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Random House Studio | March 21

Muscogee writer Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, has published two picture books in addition to her many acclaimed collections of poetry and works of nonfiction, but it’s been awhile—14 years, to be exact. Although the text of Remember is not a new composition (the poem was originally published in Harjo’s 1983 collection, She Had Some Horses), the boundaries between poems and picture book texts can be blurry, and Harjo’s imagery-laden verse seems perfect for adapting. We fully expect that 2021 Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade’s illustrations will leave us breathless.

School Trip by Jerry Craft

Quill Tree | April 4

In 2020, Jerry Craft’s New Kid became the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal. Craft followed New Kid with a sequel, Class Act, which saw Jordan and his friends Drew and Liam take on eighth grade at Riverdale Academy Day School. In School Trip, the trio will face their biggest adventure yet: traveling to Paris.

Big Tree cover image

Big Tree by Brian Selznick

Scholastic | April 4

Brian Selznick‘s best-known books are also his biggest. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the longest book ever to win the Caldecott Medal, clocks in at 544 pages. Add in Wonderstruck and The Marvels and you’re at a whopping 1,824 pages, many of which are illustrated in Selznick’s signature soft graphite. But young readers don’t love Selznick because he writes big books. They love him because of how he dives, seemingly without fear, into big ideas. Big Tree sees Selznick take on a whopper even by his own standards: It’s an entire novel told from the point of view of a sycamore tree seed whose name is, naturally, Louise.

How to Write a Poem by Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Quill Tree | April 4

We adored How to Read a Book, the first picture book that Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander created with Caldecott Honor illustrator Melissa Sweet. New books from either of these gifted creators always go onto our TBR lists immediately, but the prospect that Alexander might share some insights into his creative processes in How to Write a Poem has us even more excited than usual.

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The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson

Simon & Schuster | May 2

Since publishing her debut YA novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour (2010), Morgan Matson has become known as one of the most thoughtful writers of contemporary YA fiction. Across six books, she has offered grounded and relatable depictions of friendships, families and first loves. We’re eager to see Matson try her hand at middle grade fiction with The Firefly Summer, which follows a girl getting to know her late mother’s large extended family for the first time.

Big by Vashti Harrison

Little, Brown | May 2

Bestselling author-illustrator Vashti Harrison’s luminous digital art is irresistibly appealing, whether it’s in Harrison’s own Little Leaders biography series or in picture books written by former NFL player Matthew A. Cherry (Hair Love), Academy Award-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o (Sulwe) or Questioneers author Andrea Beaty (I Love You Like Yellow). Big is Harrison’s first fiction picture book as both author and illustrator, and it follows a young girl’s evolving relationship to her body.

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Becoming Charley by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Loveis Wise

Knopf | May 2

At their best, Kelly DiPucchio’s picture books have a perfect balance between laugh-out-loud humor and just the right amount of heartfelt sweetness. Over the years, DiPucchio has also worked with some of our favorite illustrators, including Greg Pizzoli (Dragon Was Terrible), Stephanie Graegin (Super Manny Stands Up!) and Claire Keane (Not Yeti). Becoming Charley, the story of a nonconformist caterpillar, features illustrations by Loveis Wise, who has quickly become known for their bright color palettes and engaging artistic style in picture books such as Jeanne Walker Harvey’s Ablaze With Color and Ibi Zoboi’s The People Remember. 

The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro

Disney Hyperion | May 2

2023 will bring so many delights for longtime fans of middle grade fantasy superstar Rick Riordan that we hereby declare it a Riordanaissance! Riordan’s boutique imprint, Rick Riordan Presents, will publish at least five new novels inspired by myths and legends from China, Korea, Mesopotamia and more. May will bring The Sun and the Star, a new novel co-authored with Mark Oshiro and starring fan-favorite characters Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades, and Will Solace, the son of Apollo. Then in The Chalice of the Gods, coming in September, Riordan will revisit Percy Jackson himself as he tackles his biggest quest yet: getting into college. Although the first season of the Disney+ Percy Jackson adaptation won’t be released until 2024, we bet that Riordan and the show will continue to drop all sorts of tantalizing tidbits throughout the year. 

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Martina Has Too Many Tías by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Sara Palacios

Atheneum | June 20 

After starting her career by writing nonfiction picture books, then transitioning to middle grade novels, Emma Otheguy published her first fiction picture book in 2021. With illustrations by Ana Ramírez González, A Sled for Gabo was a warmhearted tale of a boy experiencing his first snowy day and finding creative ways to join in the wintry fun. Martina Has Too Many Tías features illustrations from Pura Belpré Honor illustrator Sara Palacios, whose work we’ve loved in picture books such as Rajani LaRocca’s I’ll Go and Come Back and Mitali Perkins’ Between Us and Abuela.


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