The Year in Review: Some of Our Favorite Books from 2023

For more recommendations, look at Curated Bookshelves from some of our Educator-Partners

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A Real-Life Fairy Tale: Princess Grace

Princess Grace of Monaco is a global icon known for her beauty, glamour and grace. The former Hollywood actress who lit up the silver screen as Grace Kelly, Princess Grace also exemplified leadership and philanthropy.  Acclaimed children’s author Emberli Pridham tells her story in A Real-Life Fairy Tale: Princess Grace, guaranteed to inspire young readers in your life this holiday season.

For more information visit areallifefairytale.com.  ($21.95).


I’m From 

by Gary R Gray Jr (Author) Oge Mora (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

A poetic, heartwarming ode to the small, defining moments of a boy’s life by a brilliant new debut and a Caldecott Honoree. For fans of Last Stop on Market Street.

Early morning wakeups and homemade pancakes,

Raucous bus rides and schoolyard games,

Family games and bedtime rituals…

These are the small moments that shape a child’s day. I’m From is an invitation into the vivid world of one small boy, a poetic account of all the people and places and things that shape who he is and define where he is from.

Hidden Gem 

by Linda Liu (Author) Linda Liu (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

THIS BOOK ROCKS!!

(It also happens to be about a rock…)

“Breathtaking.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Prepare to fall in love with this debut picture book and its irresistibly quirky story of a tiny, unassuming rock’s journey to self-confidence, perfect for fans of Eric Carle & Jon Klassen.

When a small pebble sees others gathering on the steps of the Museum of Rocks, he grows curious. Once inside the esteemed halls, he is shocked by what he discovers. The only rocks on display are glittering gemstones, geodes and crystals!

These beautiful stones make him wonder: Can he be special, too? Perhaps he’ll find an answer in the World’s Most Beautiful Gem exhibition . . . or maybe, just maybe, he will find the answer inside himself.

Elena Rides

by Juana Medina (Author) Juana Medina (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Beginning readers–and beginning riders–will be drawn to this bright, buoyant story of a determined elephant and her loyal sidekick from the award-winning creator of Juana & Lucas.

Elena wants to ride her bike. She steadies, she readies. She wobbles, she bobbles . . . KA-BANG! Learning to ride a bike is hard. But Elena can do it. She just has to try, try again. With this reassuring story of childlike persistence, Juana Medina, creator of the acclaimed Juana & Lucas series, introduces Elena, a plucky elephant, and the little red bird, who is Elena’s faithful cheerleader.

Simple, energetic text and bold, brilliant artwork convey a relatable tale of the ups and downs of learning something new (not without protest or tears) and the final thrill of mastery that will have children rooting for Elena and ready for her next adventure.

Tiger Trouble (Tig and Lily)

 Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Series: TIG and Lily

Lions, Tigers, and . . . a house cat?! Oh my! Life at the zoo gets complicated when a tiger finds out she has a new roommate. A purr-fect graphic chapter book series!

What makes a tiger a tiger? Is it the stripes? The roar? This is something that Lily, the tiger at the local zoo, has never had to worry about — until she meets the fiercest animal of them all . . . her new roommate. Tig might look like a house cat, might sound like a house cat, but Tig knows he is a Tiger.

The competition is on as these two cats figure out what it means to be a Tiger . . . and a friend.

Seals are Jerks! 

by Jared Chapman (Author) Jared Chapman (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In a hilarious story for fans of We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, a young girl is determined to find out the truth about her favorite animals — and find out once and for all, are seals really jerks and do they really eat penguins?!

Seals are Lorelei’s favorite animal: they’re so cute and cuddly and best buddies with penguins. Well… that’s what she thought before learning the ugly truth — some seals EAT penguins! She doesn’t want to believe it at first, but she drags Penguin, the classroom guest and seal whistleblower, to Antarctica to prove Penguin wrong and confront Seal face-to-face. And Seal finally reveals the truth.

Beloved creator of bestseller Vegetables in Underwear, Jared Chapman, explores the ultimate question: Can seals be Lorelei’s favorite animal even if they eat penguins? This laugh-out-loud story, brimming with honesty and charm, is perfect for today’s young readers. Seals Are Jerks! is the launch of an exciting new series in the spirit of We Don’t Eat Our ClassmatesChildren Make Terrible Pets and I Want My Hat Back.

Egyptian Lullaby   

by Zeena M Pliska (Author) Hatem Aly (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A rich, beautifully layered ode to the great city of Cairo, Egypt, its people, and culture.

Every night, my Ametti Fatma sings the sounds of Egypt to me as I fall asleep.

This is the Nile,

that flows through the city.

Swish, swoosh, swish.

This is the boat,

that glides on the Nile,

that flows through the city.

Swish, swoosh, swish.

Each night, a young girl’s Auntie Fatma puts her to bed, singing a lullaby filled with rich imagery of her home in Egypt. As Auntie Fatma sings, we are given a glimpse of modern Cairo, from boats making their way down the Nile to gentle calls to prayer from the mosques to young children joyfully playing soccer in the streets.

Join Zeena Pliska and Hatem Aly on a vibrant journey to Cairo in this gorgeous, layered song.

Fire in the Sky (Spooky Sleuths) 

by Natasha Deen (Author) Lissy Marlin (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Series: Spooky Sleuths 

There are mysterious explosions near the old abandoned houses in town. Is it science . . . or is it something strange and ghostly? Find out in the latest installment of the spooky chapter book series Spooky Sleuths.

Asim’s friend Max is in danger! Asim is sure some sort of supernatural being–a witch, maybe?–is after Max. Rokshar, the levelheaded one of the group, thinks the woman is a scientist using kids for her experiments! Either way, Max is in trouble, and it’s up to Asim and Rokshar to keep him safe. But when they get close to finding answers, Asim and his friends are attacked by fireballs. Is science behind the flying fire? Or is it a witch from Guyanese folklore? Find out . . . if you dare!

Don’t miss the Spooky Sleuths series based on ghost stories from Guyana.

A Nessie Situation (Cryptid Club #2)

by Michael Brumm (Author) Jeff Mack (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Series: Cryptid Club

Fans of The Bad Guys and Catwad will love The Cryptid Club, a hilarious new four-book graphic novel series about an unlikely team of kid sleuths out to solve the mysteries behind the sudden spate of monster sightings around their school.

The Cryptid Club has found its next case! When they discover strange writing on the bathroom stalls and that something is stealing paper and pens, they know it’s going to take some super sleuthing to crack this caper.

But when a monster starts popping up in every toilet around the school, the principal orders all the bathrooms immediately closed. Now Lily, Henry, Oliver and their superhero-wannabe friend, Ernie, must solve the mystery before the whole school can’t hold it in any longer!

Everything is not as it seems in this hilarious new graphic novel series debut by Emmy Award-winning writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Michael Brumm and bestselling illustrator Jeff Mack.

Mabuhay! 

by Zachary Sterling (Author) Zachary Sterling (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

From rising star Zachary Sterling comes a humorous and heartwarming middle-grade graphic novel that celebrates food, family and folklore.

Can two kids save the world and work their family food truck?

First-generation Filipino siblings JJ and Althea struggle to belong at school. JJ wants to fit in with the crowd, while Althea wants to be accepted as she is. To make matters worse, they have to help their parents run the family food truck by dressing up as a dancing pig and passing out samples. Ugh! And their mom is always pointing out lessons from Filipino folklore — annoying tales they’ve heard again and again. But when witches, ogres and other creatures from those same stories threaten their family, JJ and Althea realize that the folklore may be more real than they’d suspected. Can they embrace who they really are and save their family?

The Sea of Terror (Once Upon a Time #3)

by Stuart Gibbs (Author) Stacy Curtis (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Series: Once Upon a Tim 

Join Tim and his friends on a treacherous journey across the seas in the laugh-out-loud funny, highly illustrated third book of the New York Times bestselling Once Upon a Tim series from Spy School author Stuart Gibbs.

After helping Princess Grace foil the villainous Prince Ruprecht–twice!–junior knights Tim, Belinda and Ferkle are on a new quest–this time to recover the Queen of Merryland’s precious golden fleece (and, more importantly, the protective amulet in its pocket) from the Kingdom of Dinkum. The safety of all Merryland depends upon them. But first, they must face the deadly Sea of Terror and the dastardly perils it contains. Tim and his friends will have to use every ounce of bravery, valor and intelligence they possess to navigate the treacherous waters–or else risk becoming flotsam on the waves.

Duel 

by Jessixa Bagley (Author) Aaron Bagley (Illustrator)   

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

A rivalry between sisters culminates in a fencing duel in this funny and emotional debut graphic novel sure to appeal to readers of Raina Telgemeier and Shannon Hale.

Sixth-grader Lucy loves fantasy novels and is brand-new to middle school. GiGi is the undisputed queen bee of eighth grade (as well as everything else she does). They’ve only got one thing in common: fencing. Oh, and they’re sisters. They never got along super well, but ever since their dad died, it seems like they’re always at each other’s throats.

When GiGi humiliates Lucy in the cafeteria on the first day of school, Lucy snaps and challenges GiGi to a duel with high sisterly stakes. If GiGi wins, Lucy promises to stay out of GiGi’s way; if Lucy wins, GiGi will stop teasing Lucy for good. But after their scene in the cafeteria, both girls are on thin ice with the principal and their mom. Lucy stopped practicing fencing after their fencer dad died and will have to get back to fighting form in secret, or she’ll be in big trouble. And GiGi must behave perfectly or risk getting kicked off the fencing team.

As the clock ticks down to the girls’ fencing bout, the anticipation grows. Their school is divided into GiGi and Lucy factions, complete with t-shirts declaring kids’ allegiances. Both sisters are determined to triumph. But will winning the duel mean fracturing their family even further?

Where Are The Aliens? The Search for Life Beyond Earth 

by Stacy McAnulty (Author) Nicole Miles (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

A fun-filled, highly illustrated, science-based exploration into one of the universe’s greatest mysteries—does life exist beyond Earth?—from bestselling and award-winning author Stacy McAnulty.

Spoiler: Scientists haven’t discovered life beyond Earth, not even a single teeny-tiny organism. But there’s a whole lot of outer space, and humans have searched only a fraction of a fraction of it. So, do you believe in the possibility of life out there? Or do you think Earth is perfectly unique in its ability to grow organisms?

Where Are the Aliens? takes readers on a journey of theories and discoveries, from the Big Bang and primordial soup to how the ancient Greeks considered the cosmos to the technology used today to listen and (possibly!) communicate with far-off exoplanets. Packed with playful illustrations and fascinating factoids, this is the perfect book for anyone who has ever looked up and asked, “What’s out there?”


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