This is the second 2023 Children’s and Middle Grade Releases post. In the first I tried to focus on UK authors but here I’ve cast a wider net. The release dates reflect the UK in the first section and US in the second.
The Pearl Hunter by Miya T. Beck | 16 / 03 / 23 – HarperCollins
Set in a world inspired by pre-Shogun era Japan, this is a stunning debut fantasy in the vein of Grace Lin about how a young pearl diver goes to the ends of the earth to rescue her twin sister, who has been stolen by a ghost whale. Kai and Kishi share the same futon, the same face, and the same talent for pearl diving. But Kishi is the obedient daughter, while Kai tries to push the rules, and sometimes they fight. Still, when Kishi is stolen and killed by the legendary Ghost Whale, nothing will stop Kai from searching for her, deep in the ocean, hoping for a way to bring her back to life. But such a rescue is beyond the power of an ordinary mortal. Kai strikes a deal with the she’ll steal a magic pearl in exchange for her sister’s soul. As she journeys across treacherous land scape, Kai must navigate encounters with scheming bandits, a power-hungry war lord, and a legion of conniving fox spirits. And when a new friendship becomes something almost as powerful as her love for her sister, Kai must make impossible choices and risk everything just to get home again.
The Boy Who Saved a Bear by Nizrana Farook, ill. David Dean | 06 / 04 / 23 – Nosy Crow
Nuwan works at the library, delivering books. One day, he accidentally takes away a very valuable key that’s been hidden inside one of the books, and in the process thwarts the plans of some very dangerous thieves. On the run, he hides in a cave, only to discover in the middle of the night that he is sharing it with a big, hairy, terrifying bear! After some hair-raising moments, he and the bear reach an understanding and they travel on together, evading the bad guys and hoping the key will unlock the answers to the mystery so that they can stop running and return home…
Mermaid Academy: Isla and Bubble (Mermaid Academy #1) by Linda Chapman, Julie Sykes, ill. Lucy Truman | 04 / 05 / 23 – Nosy Crow
Hidden deep beneath the waves is Mermaid Academy, a magical school where mermaids are paired with their very own dolphin and must discover their unique mermaid magic, with plenty of adventure along the way!
Impulsive Isla isn’t afraid of breaking a few rules to win the school treasure hunt and her dolphin, Bubble, is always up for a dare. But the seas surrounding the academy are swirling with magic, and soon Isla and Bubble find themselves in very deep water…
Two sequels are also due out within the year, and are as follows –
Mermaid Academy: Cora and Sparkle (Mermaid Academy #2) by Linda Chapman, Julie Sykes, ill. Lucy Truman | 03 / 08 / 23 – Nosy Crow
Mermaid Academy: Maya and Rainbow (Mermaid Academy #3) by Linda Chapman, Julie Sykes, ill. Lucy Truman | 12 / 10 / 23 – Nosy Crow
A Spoonful of Time: A Novel by Flora Ahn | 06 / 04 / 23 – Quirk Books
Maya s grandmother, Halmunee, may be losing her memory, but there s something almost magical about the way she cooks. Whether Halmunee serves salty miyeokguk or sweet songpyeon, her stories about Korea come to life for Maya. Then one day, something extraordinary happens: a single delicious bite of patbingsu transports Maya and Halmunee back into one of Halmunee s memories. Suddenly they re in Seoul, and Halmunee is young. This is just the first of many secrets Maya will uncover: that she and her grandmother can time-travel, and they aren t the only ones with this ability. As Maya eats her way through the past, her questions multiply until a shocking discovery transforms everything she thought she knew about family, friendship, loss, and time itself.
This book contains recipes.
A Bit of Earth by Karuna Riazi | 27 / 04 / 23 – HarperCollins
Maria Latif is used to not having a space of her own. But what happens when she feels the sudden urge to put down roots in the most unexpected of places? Karuna Riazi crafts a tender coming-of-age story about friendship, family, and new beginnings. A Bit of Earth is a reimagining of the classic The Secret Garden for readers of Other Words for Home and The Bridge Home.
Growing up in Pakistan, Maria Latif has been bounced between reluctant relatives for as long as she can remember—first because of her parents’ constant travel, and then because of their deaths. Maria has always been a difficult child, and it never takes long for her guardians to tire of her. So when old friends of her parents offer to “give her a better life” in the United States, Maria is shipped to a host family across the world.
When Maria arrives on Long Island, things are not quite what she was expecting. Mr. Clayborne has left on an extended business trip, Mrs. Clayborne seems emotionally fraught, and inexplicable things keep happening in the Claybornes’ sprawling house. And then Maria finds a locked gate to an off-limits garden. Since she’s never been good at following rules, Maria decides to investigate and discovers something she never thought she’d find: a place where she feels at home.
The Kingdom Over the Sea by Zohra Nabi, ill. Tom Clohosy Cole | 02 / 05 / 23 – Simon and Schuster
My own Yara, if you are reading this, then something terrible has happened, and you are on your own. To return to the city of Zehaira, you must read out the words on the back of this letter . . . Good luck, my brave girl.
When Yara’s mother passes away, she leaves behind a letter and a strange set of instructions. Yara must travel from the home she has always known to a place that is not on any map – Zehaira, a world of sorcerers, alchemists and simmering magic. But Zehaira is not the land it used to be. The practice of magic has been outlawed, the Sultan’s alchemists are plotting a sinister scheme – and the answers Yara is searching for seem to be out of reach.
Yara must summon all of her courage to discover the truth about her mother’s past and her own identity . . . and to find her place in this magical new world.
The Stories Grandma Forgot (and How I Found Them) by Nadine Aisha Jassat | 25 / 05 / 23 – Hachette
Twelve-year-old Nyla’s dad died when she was four, or that’s what she’s been told. So when Grandma Farida insists she saw him in the supermarket, Nyla wonders if she is ‘time-travelling’ again – the phrase she uses when Grandma forgets.
But when Grandma asks Nyla to find her dad and bring him home, Nyla promises that she will.
As Nyla sets out on her journey, she hopes that uncovering the past will help her to understand the mystery at the heart of her family … and to work out who she is.
A page-turning verse novel about memory and identity, and a bond that soars above all else.
Saffiyah’s War by Hiba Noor Khan | 06 / 07 / 23 – Andersen Press
War comes to the streets of Paris and Safiyyah’s life changes for ever. Her best friend’s family have fled, and the bombing makes her afraid to leave the mosque where she lives. But when her father is arrested by the Nazis for his secret Resistance work, it falls to Safiyyah to run the dangerous errands around the city. It’s not long before hundreds of persecuted Jews seek sanctuary at the mosque. Can Safiyyah find the courage to enter the treacherous catacombs under Paris and lead the Jews to safety?
One Chance Dance by Efua Traore | 06 / 07 / 23 – Chicken House
Jomi’s Mum left him to find their destiny in Lagos. Now, Jomi and his friendly bush baby follow her – but their only starting place is a TV dance competition his mum used to love.
If Jomi and his new Lagos friends can get on that TV show, then maybe Jomi’s mum will see him and they can find their destiny together …
The Housetrap by Emma Read | 06 / 07 / 23 – Chicken House
Deliah, Sam and Claude follow little sister Amity inside a mysterious mansion. But no sooner have they found her than the floor beneath their feet starts to twist and turn: the house rearranges itself like a giant Rubik’s cube.
Don’t Want To Be Your Monster by Deke Moulton | 01 / 08 / 23 – Tundra Books
Two vampire brothers must set aside their differences to solve a series of murders in this humorous and delightfully spooky novel for young readers. For fans of Too Bright to See.
Adam and Victor are brothers who have the usual fights over the remote, which movie to watch and whether or not it’s morally acceptable to eat people. Well, not so much eat . . . just drink a little blood. They’re vampires, hiding in plain sight with their eclectic yet loving family.
Ten-year-old Adam knows he has a better purpose in life (well, death) than just drinking blood, but fourteen-year-old Victor wants to accept his own self-image of vampirism. Everything changes when bodies start to appear all over town, and it becomes clear that a vampire hunter may be on the lookout for the family. Can Adam and Victor reconcile their differences and work together to stop the killer before it’s too late?
Undercover Alien by N.S. Blackman | 15 / 08 / 23 – Dinosaur Books
What is going on in the school library?
When Col sees something that definitely doesn’t look human hiding among the shelves, he thinks it must be his imagination (or his love of all things Space-related) getting the better of him.
But his classmate Alicia is not so sure – and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious disasters that keep befalling their school.
It’s a lot more than Col bargained for at secondary school – and a lot more fun! Until now, life beyond primary school has proved to be quite difficult and the library has been a great refuge for him. But now it looks as though Col, and his new friend Alicia, are about to have an adventure that’s out-of-this-world!
Godfather Death by Sally Nicholls, ill. Júlia Sardà | 07 / 09 / 23 – Andersen Press
When a poor fisherman chooses Death to be godfather to his son, he’s sure he’s made a good choice – for surely there’s no man more honest than Death? At the christening, Death gives the fisherman a gift that seems at first to be the key to the family’s fortune, but when greed overcomes the fisherman, he learns that nobody can truly cheat Death…
The Witchstone Ghosts by Emily Randall-Jones | 14 / 09 / 23 – Chicken House
Autumn sees dead people, much to her annoyance… but when her father drowns, he’s the one ghost that doesn’t appear. Then, a clause in his will sends her to the remote isle of Imber. Can Autumn uncover Imber’s dark past before it comes hurtling into the present?
Enlightened (illustrated) by Sachi Ediriweera | 26 / 09 / 23 – Atheneum Books for Young Readers
A spirited young prince longing to learn more about the world grows into a man on a quest to find the cause of human suffering in this first-of-its-kind graphic novel retelling of the life of Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism.
Prince Siddhartha lives in a beautiful palace in the heart of Kapilavastu. His father, the king, ensures that he has the best of everything—he just can’t go outside. He is locked up away from the city, away from anything that might cause him pain. He knows nothing of illness, aging, sorrow, or death, yet Siddhartha feels the pain regardless, and it instills a burning curiosity to understand the world outside—and the nature of human suffering.
Based on the life of the real man who was known first as a prince, then as a monk, and now as the Gautama Buddha, Enlightened is about one boy’s quest to learn the truth that underpins our endless struggle against suffering—and in understanding, break the cyclic existence that perpetuates it.
The Legend of Ghastly Jack Crowheart by Loretta Schauer | 05 / 10 / 23 – Andersen Press
It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li! by Nicole Chen | 28 / 02 / 23 – Quill Tree Books
Pearl Li is ready to spend the summer before seventh grade hanging out with her two best friends, crocheting the cutest amigurumi dolls, and visiting her favorite tea shop, Boba Time. Its quirky owner, Auntie Cha, is the only adult Pearl can confide in about her art—if only her tech-obsessed family would understand her love of crafts!
After Pearl learns of Boba Time’s financial troubles, she decides to sell her amigurumi to raise money for the shop. But as she navigates the ups and downs of running a business, Pearl realizes that monetizing her passion is more complicated than she could’ve ever imagined. Can Pearl save Boba Time before it’s too late?
Aniana del Mar Jumps In by Jasminne Mendez | 14 / 03 / 23 – Dial Books
Aniana del Mar belongs in the water like a dolphin belongs to the sea. But she and Papi keep her swim practices and meets hidden from Mami, who has never recovered from losing someone she loves to the water years ago. That is, until the day Ani’s stiffness and swollen joints mean she can no longer get out of bed, and Ani is forced to reveal just how important swimming is to her. Mami forbids her from returning to the water but Ani and her doctor believe that swimming along with medication will help Ani manage her disease. What follows is the journey of a girl who must grieve who she once was in order to rise like the tide and become the young woman she is meant to be. Aniana Del Mar Jumps In is a poignant story about chronic illness and disability, the secrets between mothers and daughters, the harm we do to the ones we love the most—and all the triumphs, big and small, that keep us afloat.
Creatures of the In Between by Cindy Lin | 11 / 04 / 23 – HarperCollins
Prince Jin is running out of time. He must find a monster companion before his thirteenth birthday or lose the throne completely, and that means travelling to the only place where monsters still live: the legendary, dangerous Whisper Island. But untold perils await Jin there. The magical creatures he seeks are not so easily swayed, and an even greater threat looms on the horizon–one that could threaten everything Jin hopes to achieve.
In the Tunnel by Julie Lee | 30 / 05 / 23 – Holiday House Inc.
Myung-gi knows war is coming: War between North and South Korea. Life in communist North Korea has become more and more unbearable—there is no freedom of speech, movement, association, or thought—and his parents have been carefully planning the family’s escape.
But when his father is abducted by the secret police, all those plans fall apart. How can Myung-gi leave North Korea without his dad? Especially when he believes that the abduction was his fault?
Set during a cataclysmic war which shaped the world we know today, this is the story of one boy’s coming-of-age during a time when inhumanity, lawlessness, and terror reigned supreme. Myung-gi, his mother, and his twelve-year-old sister Yoomee do everything they can to protect one another. But gentle, quiet, bookish Myung-gi has plans to find his father at any cost—even if it means joining the army and being sent to the front lines, where his deepest fears await him.
Singing With Elephants by Margarita Engle | 30 / 05 / 23 – Viking Books for Young Readers
Cuban-born eleven-year-old Oriol lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she struggles to belong. But most of the time that’s okay, because she enjoys helping her parents care for the many injured animals at their veterinary clinic.
Then Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature moves to town, and aspiring writer Oriol finds herself opening up. And when she discovers that someone is threatening the life of a baby elephant at her parents’ clinic, Oriol is determined to take action. As she begins to create a world of words for herself, Oriol learns it will take courage and strength to do what she thinks is right—even if it means keeping secrets from those she loves.