Children’s and YA Books of 2023

We’re excited to share this year-end roundup of children’s and YA books published in 2023 by independent literary publishers. (Read our year-end roundups for fictionpoetrynonfiction, and art and drama as well.)


Picture Books


Cypress Knees and Tupelo Trees: Discovering Plants and Animals of the Swamp by Cathy Melvin

Et Alia Press | April 22, 2023
In this children’s book about the swamp ecosystem, “plants and animals spring to life through lively rhyme and colorful painted collage.”




Alice the Cat by Tim Cummings

Regal House Publishing | May 23, 2023

This book follows “one girl’s quest to save her suicidal cat, the loyal friends who help her, the first love she accidentally falls into, and the angry ghost she encounters along the way.”




Tierra, Tierrita / Earth, Little Earth by Jorge Argueta

Arte Público Press | May 31, 2023

This trilingual picture book—featuring English, Spanish, and Nahuat, and illustrated by Felipe Ugalde Alcantara—explores “the interdependence of life on Mother Earth.”




Do I Belong Here? / ¿Es este mi lugar? by René Colato Laínez

Arte Público Press | May 31, 2023

Illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck, this bilingual picture book portrays “the experiences of newcomer students in schools.”




Mis días con Papá / Spending Time with Dad by Elías David

Arte Público Press | May 31, 2023

This bilingual picture book, illustrated by Claudia Delgadillo, “deals with gender equality.”




La Banana! by Ginna Pollock

Middle Creek Publishing & Audio | June 1, 2023

This picture book “teaches children (of all ages) a little bit of Spanish vocabulary using common items, cute images and a rhyming text.”




Cover of What Could Maggie Do? by Thomas Donahue, featuring an illustration of a blonde woman sitting in a bed,What Could Maggie Do? by Thomas Donahue

Clare Songbirds Publishing | July 22, 2023

Illustrated by Michele Ridgeway, What Could Maggie Do? is “a delightful lap book about a day full of small adventures.”




Tree Spirits by Louise Wannier

Red Hen Press | September 19, 2023

Tree Spirits is “an interactive picture book that encourages creativity, social emotional intelligence, and seeing the world with fresh eyes.”




Grandma, Where Will Your Love Go? by Adriana Camacho-Church featuring artwork of a little girl hugging an older woman on the bench in a park.Grandma, Where Will Your Love Go? / Abuela, ¿adónde irá tu amor? by Adriana Camacho-Church

Translated from the Spanish by Gastón Hauviller

Arte Público Press | October 31, 2023

Camacho-Church’s bilingual picture book explores “the joy of intergenerational relationships.”




La Nana Del Coquí by Georgina Lázaro featuring colorful artwork of a young boy with a toy plane sitting in the grass looking up at birds in the sky. La nana del coquí by Georgina Lázaro

Editorial Destellos | November 3, 2023

This children’s book is “a modern take on the traditional lullaby, with fantastically illustrated scenes that bring the verses to life of what will surely be a new bedtime favorite.”




Encontrando a Paco by Thaís Bermúdez and Julio Puigdorfila featuring graphic artwork of a brown dog peeking through tall grass with purple trees in the background.Encontrando a Paco by Thaís Bermúdez and Julio Puigdorfila

Editorial Destellos | November 10, 2023

This children’s book is “a heartwarming story of a lost stray dog who doesn’t give up his search for a forever home.”





Books for Young Readers


Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade by Kimberly Behre Kenna

Fitzroy Books | February 2, 2023

In this children’s book, Artemis Sparke “heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants and mollusks who don’t make a big deal of her stutter.”




August or Forever by Ona Gritz

Fitzroy Books | February 14, 2023

This children’s book is, according to Gayle Brandeis, “a beautiful novel about sisterhood, about art, about hearts broken and hearts mended.”




Emma and the Queen of Featherstone by Lindsay Fryc

Orange Blossom Publishing | March 7, 2023

In this children’s book, “Emma must navigate her new assignment of guarding her new planet from portal intruders while also figuring out what the Kabiren are hiding.”




The Adventures of the Flash Gang: Episode One by M. Downing and S. Waugh

Regal House Publishing | March 21, 2023

In this children’s book, “a Nefarious Deed is afoot, one that threatens the entire country.”





Doomsday Dani by Carissa Turpin

Orange Blossom Publishing | March 21, 2023

In this children’s book, Dani must “come to terms with her new reality: her parents’ recent divorce, a blossoming, awkward friendship, and repeated humiliation at the hands of a school bully.”




Millie and the Kitchen Witch by Hillary Vaillancourt

Orange Blossom Publishing | April 11, 2023

In this debut children’s book, “Millie hopes winning an annual baking contest will help bring notoriety and customers to the struggling diner like it does every year.”




Vincent Ventura and the Curse of the Dancing Devil / Vincent Ventura y la maldición del diablo bailarín by Xavier Garza

Arte Público Press | May 31, 2023

This bilingual book for intermediate readers, the fifth installment in the Monster Fighter Mystery series, “follows the dangerous battle between a seasoned devil and one unsure of her powers, a witch owl and several very determined kids!”




A Case Is Still a Case / Un caso siempre es un caso by René Saldaña, Jr.

Arte Público Press | May 31, 2023

This novel for intermediate readers “features a web-certified boy detective who learns the hard way that girls can do everything boys can! ”




Food Fight by Linda B. Davis

Regal House Publishing | June 27, 2023

According to Shannon Schuren, this children’s book is “for anyone who has ever fought their own battles with both fitting in and being themselves.”




Cover of The Invisible Elephant by Anna Anisimova, featuring an illustration of a girl in a yellow raincoat holding a white elephant like a balloon.The Invisible Elephant by Anna Anisimova

Translated from the Russian by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Restless Books | August 1, 2023

This illustrated chapter work follows “a blind girl who joyfully explores her environment using her senses and vivid imagination.”




Yellow cover of It's just skin, silly! featuring a brown splotch with a smiley face drawn on it.It’s Just Skin, Silly! by Nina Jablonski and Holly McGee

Catalyst Press | August 1, 2023

Illustrated by Karen Vermeulen, this children’s book explores “the evolution of skin color, based on a collective 40+ years of peer-reviewed research.”




The House of the Lost on the Cape by Sachiko Kashiwaba

Translated from the Japanese by Avery Fischer Udagawa

Restless Books | September 19, 2023

This children’s book is “the moving story of three generations of women adapting to their new home, and its mythical inhabitants, in the tragic aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake disaster.”




If You Meet the Devil, Don’t Shake Hands by Sylvia Whitman

Regal House Publishing | September 19, 2023

In this children’s book, “twelve-year-old Gavin Baker, son of a warrior, is a born worrier.”





Junior Miles and the Junkman by Kevin Carey

Regal House Publishing | September 26, 2023

According to Naomi Shihab Nye, this children’s book is “a tender, transformative novel for all who sometimes feel they don’t fit in.”




The Tailor Shot at the Intersection by Ahn Jaesun featuring close-up artwork of a collar and tie getting mended by tiny dogs in suits.The Tailor Shop at the Intersection by Ahn Jaesun

Translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell

Transit Books | October 17, 2023

This children’s book is “about family, resilience, fashion, and staying true to who you are—told through three generations of tailors in a rapidly changing Seoul.”




Cover of Nena y Roberta, donde está? Featuring an illustration of a grandmother looking through binoculars.Nena, y Roberta ¿dónde está? by Marie Biskai

Editorial Destellos | October 20, 2023

In this Spanish-language children’s book, a granddaughter and grandmother search through fantastical worlds for the latter’s lost memories.




Mariano’s First Glove by Robert Casilla featuring a boy catching a baseball.Mariano’s First Glove / El primer guante de Mariano by Robert Casilla

Arte Público Press | October 31, 2023

This bilingual children’s book explores “the life of an acclaimed major league baseball player.”




Best Amigas by Patricia Marcantonio featuring graphic artwork of two young girls sitting on the sidewalk in front of a house. Best Amigas by Patricia Marcantonio

Fitzroy Books | November 14, 2023

In this children’s book, “Juana Méndez and Diane Conrad are going to save each other’s lives. Not with super heroics, but with a friendship that gets them through everything.”






Young Adult

Pearl of the Sea by Anthony Silverston and Raffaella Delle Donne

Catalyst Press | January 31, 2023

Illustrated by Willem Samuel, this graphic novel for young adults “is a South African adventure story exploring how we are both bound to and freed by nature, seen through the eyes of a tough teen-aged heroine determined to live life by her own rules.”




Secret Rules to Being a Rockstar by Jessamyn Violet

Three Rooms Press | April 18, 2023

Violet’s debut LGBTQA+ YA novel “sizzles with a coming-of-age story set in an industry of ambition, secrets, lies, and utter joy. ”




Robin and Her Misfits by Kelly Ann Jacobson

Three Rooms Press | April 25, 2023

In this YA novel, “a roving female gang of fun-loving rebel bikers and street racers, led by Robin, agree to give back to queer girls in need of help.”




Aqueous by Jade Shyback

Red Hen Press | May 2, 2023

In this debut YA novel, “young Marisol Blaise is taken to live on an underwater mersation known as Aqueous with parents not her own.”




Maybe There Are Witches by Jude Atwood

Regal House Publishing | June 13, 2023

As the characters in this YA novel “quest through historic cemeteries, backcountry libraries, and high-octane scholastic bowl tournaments, something sinister is lurking, watching, and waiting.”




Cover of Kariba, with an illustration of a Black teen with a river and trees in the outline of their torso.Kariba by Daniel Clarke, James Clarke, and Daniel Snaddon

Catalyst Press | August 1, 2023

Kariba is “an African fantasy-adventure graphic novel inspired by the mythology of the Zambezi River and the history of the Kariba Dam.”




Cover of Hellfinder by Paula Stokes, featuring an illustration of a human figure in a blue, icicle-ed cave looking out at an orange mountain and orange sky.Hellfinder by Paula Stokes

Regal House Publishing | August 29, 2023

In this YA novel, “Winter Break turns deadly when Rory Quinn and her treasure-hunter grandmother travel to Iceland in search of an enchanted artifact.”




The Town that Time Forgot by Elizabeth Donley-Leer

Woodhall Press | September 5, 2023

Donley-Leer’s YA novel follows a journalism student “down the treacherous rabbit hole that just might end with his demise.”




Made in Maine by Shawn Samuelson Henry

Woodhall Press | September 5, 2023

In this YA novel set in the aftermath of a mill closure, “a tragic accident sends the town spiraling further into despair.”




But Cats Don’t Talk by Lynne Heinzmann

Woodhall Press | October 2, 2023

This YA novel is “the inspiring story of Rebecca O’Sullivan, a 17-year-old prodigy who has everything going for her: a promising career as a classical pianist, a supportive mother/piano teacher/manager, and a loving pet, Beethoven the Cat (BC).”




Tepozteco’s Belly by José Agustín featuring artwork of a man in aztec clothing atop a fire-breathing statue’s head while kids watch from the side.Tepozteco’s Belly by José Agustín

Translated from the Spanish by Nicolás Kanellos

Arte Público Press | October 31, 2023

An “adventure story about Aztec gods,” Tepozteco’s Belly “introduces teens to Mexican indigenous traditions.”