2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Children’s Book Recommendations 2023, So Far: S-Z Titles

Children’s book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

All reading books are carefully handpicked by a certified elementary school librarian who, although retired, still enjoys reading children’s books, especially picture books, and recommending them to busy teachers, school librarians, parents, grandparents, and other book lovers.

Most of the books Mrs. Ferraris reads before recommending are checked out from the public library, except for those much-appreciated complimentary copies sent to her for an honest review. Those are noted. The content below contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, she may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

S-Z

The children's book cover of The Seasons Within Me has a little girl standing under a large white umbrella with her dog nearby.

The Seasons Within Me 

by Bianca Pozzi (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Rise x Penguin Workshop
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : ‎ 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593522915

Brief summary: A young girl feels sad and alone as though it is raining on her and realizes no one is noticing. The child tells her mother and is consoled with the hope of feeling better soon. On her way home from school, she meets a dog that matches her rain. The girl cares for the dog, and they become friends, both feeling happier.

Comments: This children’s book is a lovely metaphor for feeling sad.

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Dario is standing with his arms up with a joyous facial expression as is his imaginary tiger as they enjoy the monarch butterflies.

Sometimes, a Tiger 

by Z.B. Asterplume (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Feiwel & Friends
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover ‏picture book : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250823447

Brief summary: Dario wakes to another morning without a good breakfast but uses his imagination to bring a tiger to school. Soon, other students use their imagination to create something exciting and different.

Dario walks home in the rain with his friends, parting ways when it is his home. They return later in the day with food for his family’s pantry.

Comments: This would be an excellent book to share before a school can/food drive.

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Lintang is sitting at the table trying sambal with her Nenek to one side and the cat on the ohter noticing that her mouth is hot.

Spicy Spicy Hot! 

by Lenny Wen (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏picture book : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0316281026

Brief summary: Lintang ‘s grandma, Nenek, is flying in from Indonesia to meet her for the first time. Nenek teaches her granddaughter how to make sambal, which is too hot for her granddaughter to enjoy. After several different variants, Nenek creates one with mango that is just right.

Comments: Young readers will learn about different peppers and how to make sambal using the recipe in the back of this children’s book.

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

This children's book cover has the Crab Nebula and other plants on it.

A Star Explodes: The Story of Supernova 1054 

by James Gladstone (Author), Yaara Eshet (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Owlkids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 1-4
  • Hardcover nonfiction picture book ‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 177147498X

Brief summary: A distant star exploded and was seen by earthlings in 1054. It was called a guest star(later called Supernova 1054). It faded. Over the centuries, astronomers have studied it through the eye of telescopes, realizing it had changed to a nebula, a large cloud of gas and dust. It is now called the Crab Nebula.

Comments: In this children’s book, there are three back sections called What is a Supernova?, Supernova 1054, and The Crab Nebula. 

I thought this would make a great beginning understanding of supernovas and how they change over time.

Rating: 3/5 📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Yakov and Aicha are eating as they are looking at a store's display of space books and decorations.

The Stars (Aldana Libros) 

by Jacques Goldstyn (Author), Helen Mixter (Translator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Greystone Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 2-5
  • Hardcover ‏ graphic novel: ‎ 72 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771649194

Brief summary: Yakov(Orthodox Jewish) meets a girl, Aicha(Muslim), in his neighborhood. Both are passionate about the stars and share their interest when meeting in a park. They watch the stars together one night when her hijab slips down, revealing her beautiful hair.

Her father sees this and bans them from seeing one another. The two parents argue about their children not seeing each other ever again. Many years later, the boy and girl encounter one another at an international astronomy conference. Will they talk to one another?

Comments: A Romeo and Juliet type of story. The illustrations are vignettes, comic frames, and regular text styles.

Some libraries have this in the picture book area, while others have it in the graphic novel section.

This is an English translation.

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Tilly is standing with her suitcase at the bottom of two mountains that are connected with a bridge.

Stuck in the Middle: A Story About Separation (Difficult Conversations) 

by Tom Tinn-Disbury (Author, Illustator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ DK Children
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0744080282

Brief summary: Tilly lives in a beautiful area and enjoys playing in it, except that her Mommy lives on one Mountain and her Daddy lives on another. Each week, she must climb down one mountain with one of her parents and up another to be with the other parent. It was leaving her very tired, and she wanted to use the bridge in the middle that connects the two mountains but was told that the bridge was too dangerous with fog or too wobbly.

Tilly decides one night to go and fix the bridge. The parents come together and learn how to repair that bridge to make crossing easier for their daughter.

Comments: There is a Guide for Grown-Ups page in the back of the book. This is Tom Tin-Disbury’s second children’s book of the Difficult Conversations series.

Rating: 3/5 📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Lost in the Clouds: A gentle story to help children understand death and grief (Difficult Conversations)  is the first book of the series.

Sunny and Oswaldo are sitting back to back not happy with the other one

Sunny and Oswaldo 

by Nicole Melleby (Author), Alexandra Colombo (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Algonquin Young Readers (February 7, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 164375095X

Summary: Sunny does not like cats, especially the one her father brought home called Oswaldo. She tried to play with it and pet the cat, but they did not get along. She was glad that Oswaldo would leave for the day but always returned in the evening. The cat adored her father. The cat did not return one day, making her father very sad. Sunny tells her father that the cat is mean, and her father explains the cat’s history, helping the young girl understand the cat’s emotions and actions. The cat returns, and a new perspective allows Sunny to care for the cat too.

Comments: A story of understanding and empathy towards another. Social and emotional learning.

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

There is a swing of two ontop of the grassy dune over looking the sea

The Swing 

by Britta Teckentrup (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Prestel Junior
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 160 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 3791375369

Brief summary: A swing sits by the sea and is shared by many people. Seasons come and go. The narrator shares the many reasons people visit the swing: to make big decisions, to just play, for reflection, and so on. These people grow older, and sometimes, some new people discover the swing. The swing was deserted for a while, and vegetation covered it until a group came and repainted and cut away the weeds so that others could enjoy it again.

Comments: Beautiful illustrations that calmly examine the passing of time. Some things change; some do not.

Rating: 5/5 📗📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Several pigeons are in an art museum looking at bird paintings

This Art Is for the Birds 

by Susan Bednarski (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kind World Publishing
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: Prek-3
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1638940185

Brief summary: Alex is not like the other birds in the neighborhood. He likes to collect things and combine them to create mobiles and accessories for his pals. He and his friends decide to take his creations to the art museum. Will the establishment accept art from a crow? Will they love and appreciate them as much as his four pigeon friends?

Comments: Whimsical text with puns. Some speech bubbles. Watercolor and ink illustrations.

Rating: 3/5 📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A young girl holding a shabby yellow umbrella with her dog staring at it too.

The Umbrella 

by Beth Ferry (Author), Tom Lichtenheld (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Clarion Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : ‎ 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0358447720

Brief summary: The walk to the school bus stop is soaking wet as they wait and does not let up after a day of school or when getting home. A girl and her dog need to walk despite the weather. They come across an antique store with a yellow umbrella for free. They run home with it, unaware that it is falling apart as they go.

It continues to rain and rain. The girl and the dog go on a walk and discover something magical has happened to make the sun come back out.

Comments: The illustrations are what I believe a picture book is all about in telling a story. The grays are the only color seen until the umbrella is bought.

The words rhyme and are ones that a young reader can read and relate to in their world.

The text and illustrations complement one another in portraying this humorous story of sharing and fun in the rain.

Rating: 5/5 📗📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

The children's book cover to Welcome, Rain! is of wo girls are looking up as the rain falls onto their faces

Welcome, Rain! 

by Sheryl McFarlane (Author), Christine Wei (Illustrator

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Greystone Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture books ‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771646950

Brief summary: A young girl talks to the rain as she walks through the spring, observing how it provides puddles, worms to come out of the ground, and helps the plants grow. Then, it rains a lot, so the little girl says they have enough. Summer comes, and it is hot with little rain. The autumn leaves fall, and the grass is brown. She is glad that it rains again and asks for snow.

Comments: Each season with rain in it(or not so much) is addressed in this children’s book. I’d pair this with seasons or the water cycle units of study.

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Kayla is wearing a red bike helmet standing between two trees next two her blue bik. Her shadow is of a cowgril while the bike's shadow is a horse.

Wild Blue: Taming a Big-Kid Bike

by Dashka Slater (Author), Laura Hughes (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Candlewick
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover ‏ picture book: ‎ 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1536215678

Brief summary: Kayla’s dad believes his daughter has outgrown her bike with training wheels(Pink Pony) and is ready to learn how to ride a bigger bike without the extra help(Wild Blue, horse). Kayla gets bucked off Wild Blue several times, and her father encourages her to get back in the saddle.

Comments: The metaphor of her bike as a horse using equine language is clever. Book of encouragement, grit, and perseverance.

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Naliah is peaking out from behind a door where their is a yellow ao dai hung on the title's words

The Yellow Áo Dài 

by Hanh Bui (Author), Minnie Phan (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Feiwel & Friends
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250842069

Brief summary: Naliah planned to perform the Fan Dance, the same one her mother learned from her grandmother in Vietnam, on International Day at school, but found that her ao dai was too tight. She went to her mother’s closet to see if any of her mother’s ao dais fit. As she practiced the fan dance, she tore it.

Naliah’s mother presented her with a unique yellow ao dai to wear. The young girl confesses to her mother that she tore the yellow one in the closet and learns about the history of it.

Comments: This children’s book is a lovely story of tradition and remembering our ancestors.

Rating 3/5 📗📗📗

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Grandparent Picture Book Recommendations–Spring 2023

Grandparent picture book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).

cartoon of grandparents and grandchildren

I’m always on the lookout for picture books with grandparents and grandchildren relationships and have been pleased to see five brand-new ones in our public library. I hope there are more to come this year.

Grandparent picture book cover of Mama Shamsi at the bazaar with her granddaughter clinging to her.

Mama Shamsi at the Bazaar 

by Mojdeh Hassani  (Author), Samira Iravani (Author), Maya Fidawi (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dial Books. 2023. K-2. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593110614.

Brief summary: Samira is a bit nervous about going to the bazaar with her grandmother for the first time to buy groceries. She repeatedly asks Mama Shamsi to hide in her chador, but the woman wisely resists using humor to soothe her granddaughter’s fear.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4/5 📗📗📗📗

Grandparent picture book of a grandson standing with his grandfather behind him

At the Drop of a Cat 

by Élise Fontenaille (Author), Violeta Lópiz (Illustrator), Karin Snelson  (Translator), Emilie Robert Wong (Translator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Enchanted Lion Books. 2023. K-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1592703821.

Brief summary: A grandson visits his Grandpa Luis every Wednesday and Sunday. His grandpa is not only a talented artist but can make anything grow, creating the beautiful garden where they spend their days. The six-year-old is learning to read and write and tells us that his Grandpa does not know how as he was an immigrant from Spain to France who had to work in the fields as a child.

This is a French translation and captures the two kindred spirits. I like the mixed-up idioms and how the grandson narrates how he is getting to know Grandpa Luis.

For more details or to buy, click here (in ENGLISH).

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

For more details or to buy, click here (in FRENCH).

Grandparent picture book of Abuela's Super Capa of the abuela and her grandson in capes flying in the air high fiving one another

Abuela’s Super Capa 

by Ana Siqueira  (Author), Elisa Chavarri  (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins. 2023. K-3. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0063113657.

Brief summary: Luis and his abuela have fun every Saturday going around the neighborhood being superheroes. One Saturday, she does not visit. Luis learns that his abuela is very sick in the hospital. She comes to stay with them as she recovers. Although Luis is saddened that his abuela is unable to be as active, he tries to come up with a way to have fun and realizes his sister, Isabel, can be his new sidekick and fight and do adventures together in their capes. 

There is a glossary of the Spanish words used in the book.

For more details or to buy, click here(in ENGLISH).

Rating: 3.5/5 📗📗📗1/2

For more details or to buy, click here in SPANISH.

The sun's rays coming down through the trees onto the road a the child runds to a grandparent

In Every Life 

by Marla Frazee  (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Beach Lane Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1665912488.

Brief summary: The text has seven lines with seven words each(except for the last line). Each line is across the top of a two-page spread with small illustrations below, and then the next two-page spread is an illustration matching that color scheme.

The words are calm and straightforward. The stunning illustrations are done with pencil and gouache and are detailed little scenes of family members with everyday interactions. I stopped and looked at the details of each one before continuing to the following line and was glad to see that grandparents were included.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 5/5 📗📗📗📗📗

Picture book cover of a grandmother and her grandchild walking in the rain

Together with You

by Patricia Toht  (Author), Jarvis  (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : ‎ Candlewick. 2023. PreK-1. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1536223514.

Brief summary: A grandmother and her grandchild put on rain gear to play in Spring’s rain. Summer arrives with them cooling off from the hot sun. Autumn brings the wind they need to fly a kite and enjoy the falling leaves. Winter comes with them getting cozy and watching the snow from inside. Each season is spent with one another.

The seasonal color schemes go in hand with this gentle and calming book that blends from one season to the next.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4.5/5 📗📗📗📗1/2