Witch Hazel by Molly IdleWhat it's about: While ailing in bed, elderly witch Hazel finds joy in sharing her lifetime of memories with young companion Hilda. And, after Hazel is gone, Hilda finds solace in her own memories of their time together.
Art alert: A sepia backdrop lends a quiet, nostalgic tone to the gently shaded white-and-gray illustrations.
Reviewers say: "A bewitching examination of the abiding power of memories and story" (Horn Book Magazine).
Mushroom Lullaby by Kenneth KraegelWhat it's about: A straightforward introduction to mushrooms takes a whimsical turn, inviting young readers to imagine themselves playing with friendly insects, exploring a cozy mushroom house, and snuggling up for sweet dreams.
Why kids might like it: Narration addressed directly to "you" ensures that all kids can feel included in a mushroom-sized world of their own, while fanciful ink-and-watercolor art exudes bedtime-story coziness.
Luminous: Living Things That Light Up the Night by Julia KuoWhat it is: a radiantly illustrated overview of bioluminescence, including concepts like energy, camouflage, and biodiversity as well as creatures such as fireflies, vampire squid, and glowworms.
How it's told: on two levels: simple, poetic primary narration alongside more detailed scientific information for older or more inquisitive readers.
Try this next: W.H. Beck's Glow, another dual-level book exploring bioluminescence, this time with photo illustrations.
I Feel! A Book of Emotions by Juana MedinaWhat it is: Focusing more on illustrations than on words, this affirming book names and depicts 14 different emotions, from loneliness and fright to bravery and happiness.
Who it's for: While relating emotions to expressions and actions isn't for every kid, many who are learning to articulate their feelings will find validation in this uncomplicated primer.
Kids might also like: Todd Parr's The Feelings Book or Lizzy Rockwell's How Do You Feel?.
Firefighter Flo! by Andrea Zimmerman; illustrated by Dan YaccarinoWhat it's about: With flashing lights and clanging bells, Flo and her diverse team of firefighters rush to douse a burning building with their fire hose, rescuing everyone (dogs and all) from the blaze.
How you should read it: OUT LOUD and with LOTS of EMPHASIS, letting kids get the full impact of the rhyming onomatopoeia, as well as pore over the crisp, retro-modern illustrations.
Series alert: Flo's bravery kicks off the new Big Jobs, Bold Women series.
I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne; illustrated by Julia KuoWhat it's about: After a young girl and her parents move from Taiwan to the U.S., the girl's in-person talks with beloved grandmother Popo turn into video calls and long-distance dreams. But even with oceans and new languages between them, Popo and her granddaughter maintain their bond.
Why kids might like it: Highlighting an intergenerational, bicultural family, this feel-good read may resonate with many children.
Try this next: Margaret Chiu Greanias' Amah Faraway or Michelle Sterling's When Lola Visits.
Oona by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Raissa FigueroaMeet: young mermaid Oona, sweet and "a little bit salty," as she and her pet otter Otto go scavenging for unexpected treasures.
What happens: Oona learns how to move past disappointment in this undersea adventure, the 1st in a series which continues with Oona and the Shark and Oona in the Arctic (due out in January 2023).
Kids might also like: Jerry Pinkney's The Little Mermaid, a more traditional but equally enchanting fantasy starring a curious Black mermaid.
The Tree in Me by Corinna LuykenWhat it's about: An inclusive group of kids plays and relaxes among the trees, while lyrical text describes how people's inner lives are like trees, interconnected with nature and one another.
Art alert: Rosy pink and glowing gold hues stand out in the dreamy illustrations, making this book a strong choice for sharing (one-on-one or with a group), as well as for starting conversations about how kids can nurture their own "trees."
Outside, Inside by LeUyen PhamWhat it's about: The wide-open world changes after "something strange" happens and almost everyone who was once outside goes inside. Families hunker down, dedicated workers step up, and little ones adjust to a new normal.
Why kids might like it: Although it doesn't directly mention COVID-19, this look at lockdown life encourages hope and shared understanding among kids whose lives have been shaped by the pandemic.
Look for: the little black cat weaving its way through every page.
Mel Fell by Corey R. TaborWhat it's about: Venturing out of the nest, fledgling kingfisher Mel's first test of her wings takes a decidedly downward trajectory.
How to read it: You'll need to turn the book sideways to follow Mel as she begins plummeting, heightening the drama of her loooooong dive and the exhilaration of her eventual, triumphant flight.
Award buzz: Gentle humor and playful visual storytelling earned this book a 2022 Caldecott Honor.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!
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