2022 Starred Reviews Round-Up

Does your collection include this year’s critically acclaimed books? See what Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and more, say about the top reviewed books of 2022 for kids and teens!

Click the tabs below to view more books in each age category.

Picture BooksMiddle Grade BooksYoung Adult Books

I Am Golden by Eva Chen; illustrated by Sophie Diao
On Sale Now

This joyful and lyrical picture book from New York Times bestselling author Eva Chen and illustrator Sophie Diao is a moving ode to the immigrant experience, as well as a manifesto of self-love for Chinese American children.


“In these pages, cultural triumphs live next to snug family dinners, and all of it matters as the parents set their child aloft. Every child should be launched by such words of love and confidence. … Salve on the wounds of racism, this is a transporting invitation to be different, go forward, and meet your destiny.” —School Library Journalstarred review

“[A] richly metaphoric celebration of Chinese American identity … Luminous, gently textured digital art by Diao includes thoughtful, recognizably Chinese cues that add further dimension … A loving, affecting tribute to how children of immigrants can serve as bridges and torchbearers for their communities.” —Publishers Weeklystarred review

“From the outset, this gorgeous picture book exudes joy and celebration of identity. Through dazzling illustrations, Diao brings to exuberant life best-selling Chinese American author Chen’s message of finding love and power in one’s differences. … This powerful and uplifting story captures [Chinese] American joy and is a definite must-read.” —Bookliststarred review

“An immigrant couple’s empowering love letter to their child. … Diao’s lovely digital artwork works in tandem with Chen’s rich textual imagery to celebrate Chinese culture, family history, and language. … A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity.Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Legend of Gravity by Charly Palmer
On Sale Now

In his author-illustrator debut, Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe–and Africana Book Award–winning illustrator Charly Palmer spins a tall tale about a neighborhood basketball hero.


“The Legend of Gravity is a riveting rocket of a tale. Like a memorable championship game, it deserves to be revisited over and over again by legions of devoted fans.” —BookPage, starred review

“On-point gameplay descriptions bring readers into the action as the awe-inspiring heroics of a mythically great ball player take center court… Vivid colors and heavy brushstrokes bring the city, its courts, and the characters to life, with the fluid basketball movements and positioning of the players being exceptionally well rendered.” —The Horn Book, starred review

Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild; illustrated by Charlene Chua
On Sale Now

Perfect for Valentine’s Day, Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild and Charlene Chua is a touching picture book about friendship and the courage it takes to share your feelings.


“The gentle, child-friendly romance at the heart of the story is a perfect celebration of courage and queerness, and earnest, awkward Violet is a protagonist every reader will root for.” —Kirkus, starred review

“Valentine’s Day brings a shy child named Violet the chance to connect with her crush, Mira, in Sullivan Wild’s uplifting wintry tale…a race through the snow—choreographically captured with dancelike grace in Chua’s simple, light-filled watercolors—brings the duo together at last, making the holiday one of joyful acceptance.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

That’s Betty! The Story of Betty White by Gregory Bonsignore; illustrated by Jennifer M. Potter
On Sale January 18, 2022

An innovative and joyful picture book biography that celebrates the life and achievements of TV legend, pioneer, and activist Betty White.


“Cleverly written from a child’s perspective, this biography will have readers loving Betty White more and more with each turn of the page. . .Written in preparation for White’s upcoming 100th birthday in 2022, this is a must-have for all library shelves.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“In this awed tribute, a young fan assigned to do a class presentation on a “trailblazing woman” braves the skepticism of their teacher and their dads to gain. . .a high-spots overview of White’s multi-decade career. Readers, too, will come away wowed.” —Booklist, starred review

Friends are Friends, Forever by Dane Liu
On Sale Now

A picture book based on the author’s own immigration story, the infinite impact of friendship, and passing on love and kindness around the world.

“The story itself is simple and sweet in nature as we see the two main characters go from mildly interacting to fused together in their walk outside… A spare and wonderful addition to picture book collections.”—School Library Journal, starred review

Anzu the Great Kaiju by Benson Shum
On Sale Now

An adorable picture book about a tiny monster with a big heart trying to follow in his family’s footsteps.

*”It’s a pleasure to see the monster myth once again turned on its head. Spoiler alert: Goofy, loving monster makes good on his proclivities for joy, and wins his parents’ approval along the way. It’s a triumph, all right.” School Library Journal, starred review

Where is Bina Bear? by Mike Curato
On Sale Now

In Mike Curato’s funny, poignant picture book Where Is Bina Bear?, a little rabbit throws a party—but can’t find best friend Bina Bear anywhere!

“This book would prove an excellent prompt for classroom discussion as well as a vibrant read aloud. VERDICT A gloriously simple and funny story of empathy, recommended for first purchase.” School Library Journal, starred review

“A tender tribute to both lone wolves (er, bears) and the beings who love them.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken by Hannah Holt; Illustrations by Korwin Briggs
On Sale Now

Packed with information, hilariously but accurately (well…except for the chickens) illustrated, Hannah Holt and Korwin Briggs’ A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken is sure to wedge its way into the annals of history-based picture books.

“Do not miss this very fun and informative book, which is an excellent choice for anyone interested in fashion, history, or chickens.” School Library Journal, starred review

Dragon Bones by Sarah Glenn Marsh; Illustrations by Maris Wicks
On Sale Now

At home in her seaside town in England, little Mary Anning stared out her window. Unlike other children, Mary couldn’t wait for a rainy day. Because when it rained… the bones were revealed.


“Particularly attuned to preschool and primary audiences…the interplay between the solidity of Mary and her discoveries and the wispy white outlines of her realistic and fantastical imaginings opens a window into a period when even renowned naturalists pontificated from speculation more often than settled knowledge.” – The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (BCCB)

“A lively portrayal of an outstanding 19th-century woman and her contributions to the study of paleontology.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

I Am Mozart, Too by Audrey Ades; Illustrations by Adelina Lirius
On Sale Now

To everyone who has heard of my famous younger brother but has never heard of me.

“A must-buy for any collection. Not only is this a story that needs to be shared, but the back matter educates young readers on critical reading distinctions.” — School Library Journalstarred review

Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth by Michelle Duster; Illustrations by Laura Freeman
On Sale Now

Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth is an inspiring picture book biography of the groundbreaking journalist and civil rights activist as told by her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award Honoree artist Laura Freeman.

“A superb biography for all libraries, this picture book can effectively be used with a broad range of students as an introduction to the importance of activism and Black history.” — School Library Journalstarred review

Why? A Conversation about Race by Taye Diggs; Illustrations by Shane W. Evans
On Sale Now

A piercing picture book about racial injustice from a child’s perspective from Taye Diggs and Shane Evans.

“Diggs makes these gutting conversations loving, plainspoken, and accessible to children. … The question-and-answer format, the hallmark of parenting, helps the characters process large thoughts and huge problems, and yet find some paths to solutions.”—School Library Journalstarred review

Our Planet! There’s No Place Like Earth by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by David Litchfield
On Sale Now

From writer Stacy McAnulty and illustrator David Litchfield, Our Planet! There’s No Place Like Earth is a nonfiction picture book about the Earth, told from the perspective of Earth herself.

“The last illustrations feature a joyful, verdant Earth, who is clearly choosing hope over despair. … Offering a helpful primer to difficult concepts, this engaging picture book is recommended for first purchase.” —School Library Journalstarred review

Let’s Do Everything and Nothing by Julia Kuo
On Sale Now

Let’s Do Everything and Nothing is a lush and lyrical picture book from Julia Kuo celebrating special moments—big and small—shared with a child.


“This stirring ode to the love between parent and child is a must-have for all collections.” —School Library Journalstarred review

“[A] simple yet powerful salute to mothers and daughters and the time they spend together… This exquisite book would be a perfect gift to bring to a baby shower.” —BookPagestarred review

This Book Will Get You to Sleep! by Jory John; illustrated by Olivier Tallec
On Sale Now

For little ones reluctant to say good night, this laugh-out-loud story from beloved author Jory John and internationally acclaimed illustrator Olivier Tallec will guide them through different methods of falling asleep—until they might just get tired after all.

“Tallec’s humorous, signature-styled pictures easily keep pace with the book’s mock-serious tone, foregrounding a charismatic protagonist who will help kids find their way, if not to sleep, then at least to plentiful giggles.” —Publishers Weeklystarred review

Miss Rita, Mystery Reader by Sam Donovan and Kristen Wixted; illustrated by Violet Tobacco
On Sale Now

In this heartwarming picture book, Tori can’t wait to show off Daddy’s drag queen alter ego, Miss Rita, at school story time. But will the other kids love Miss Rita like Tori does?

“Sweet and reassuring…The vivid, expressive, and energetic illustrations catch just the right over-the-top tone. This fun selection is a great way to enhance picture-book collections.” — Booklist, starred review

Pineapple Princess by Sabina Hahn
On Sale 05/31/2022

A sly, hilarious, and bold picture book from debut creator Sabina Hahn about a fierce little girl who commandeers a rotting pineapple for a royal crown—perfect for fans of Eloise and Olivia.

“This witty (and slightly wicked) book should appeal to readers who admire Eloise’s and Olivia’s insouciance, as well as fans of Jon Klassen’s deadpan, elevated humor.” —Bookliststarred review

See You Someday Soon by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Suzy Lee
On Sale 06/14/2022

From the author of the mega-bestseller Be Kind comes a picture book for anyone who’s ever loved someone far away.

“A satisfying resolution arrives to close the book, offering solace to those who have endured long separations from loved ones due to the pandemic and also to anyone whose loved ones live far away. Characters’ skin tones vary depending on the color of the page.” —Kirkusstarred review

Tomatoes in My Lunchbox by Costantia Manoli; illustrated by Magdalena Mora
On Sale 06/21/2022

A moving picture book from a debut author about the first day of school, layered with themes about the immigrant experience and the universal experience of feeling out of place.

“[A] beautifully told and illustrated story that expresses, with sensitivity and inspired use of figurative language, a child’s attempt to fit with the dominant culture—a common experience that will resonate with many readers and inspire empathy in others.” —Kirkusstarred review

Northwind by Gary Paulsen
On Sale Now

This stunning New York Times Bestseller from the survival story master, set along a rugged coastline centuries ago, does for the ocean what Hatchet does for the woods, as it relates the story of a young person’s battle to stay alive against the odds, where the high seas meet a coastal wilderness.


“A voyage both singular and universal, marked by sharply felt risks and rewards and deep waters beneath.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Spare, survival-oriented prose keeps the reader immersed in scenes difficult and wondrous, offering a glimpse of the sheer awesomeness of nature, showcasing the beauty of the sea and its inhabitants, and regaling readers with a timeless and irresistible adventure that has resilience at its heart.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Call this posthumously published novel The Young Man and the Sea . . . [A] splendid story . . . Beautifully written, it’s classic Paulsen at his best.” —Bookliststarred review

“[A] mesmerizing modern-day epic . . . The tale of man versus nature is as old as time, but Paulsen, who died in 2021, goes beyond the genre by exploring the complex perspectives of animals . . . Narrative devices like kennings and repetitious phrasing hark back to epic sagas such as Beowulf and the Poetic Eddas: tides become moon-currents, silence becomes non-sound and memories become thought-pictures. But possibly the most compelling aspect of the work is the lesson Leif learns along his journey: ‘Don’t go to a place. Go to be. Just to be.’” —Shelf Awarenessstarred review

“What a gem . . . This accessible, captivating adventure story is destined to become another Paulsen classic . . . An essential purchase for libraries serving middle grade and YA readers.” —School Library Journalstarred review

Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa by Julian Randall
On Sale Now

The Land of Stories meets Dominican myths and legends come to life in Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa, a blockbuster contemporary middle-grade fantasy duology starter from Julian Randall. Fans of Tristan Strong and The Storm Runner, here is your next obsession.


“Pilar is fierce, honest, and funny, a heroine readers are sure to love. Action-packed and engaging from start to finish, this is a great next read for fans of Rick Riordan and Alane Adams.” –School Library Journal, starred review

“Fusing a vibrant, self-assured narrative voice; subtly wrought intergenerational concerns; and rich, Dominican-inspired worldbuilding, Randall creates an undeniable page-turner.” —Publisher’s Weeklystarred review

“Magic awaits around every corner in Zafa. Nonstop action and plenty of heart create a story worth escaping into.” —Kirkus Reviewsstarred review

Button Pusher by Tyler Page
On Sale March 15, 2022

A memoir-driven realistic graphic novel about Tyler, a child who is diagnosed with ADHD and has to discover for himself how to best manage it.


“Well-paced interweaving of story beats and explanation, told with a refreshing honesty of feeling, make this a factually informative, accessible introduction to ADHD” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Highly recommended for graphic memoir collections, especially where graphic medicine is popular, this is a reassuring and informative resource for neurodiverse kids” Booklist, starred review

Moonwalking by Zetta Elliott and Lyn Miller-Lachmann
On Sale April 12, 2022

For fans of Jason Reynolds and Jacqueline Woodson, this middle-grade novel-in-verse follows two boys in 1980s Brooklyn as they become friends for a season.


“A tender, engrossing tribute to art and close interpersonal bonds that explores themes of neurodivergence, mental health, and institutional prejudice.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Through alternating first-person accounts, and with varied poetic styles, Elliott (A Place Inside of Me, rev. 11/20) and Miller-Lachmann (Rogue, rev. 9/13) present a thoughtfully structured and sensitively rendered verse novel set in early- 1980s Brooklyn featuring two memorable protagonists… Both authors are adept at evocatively re-creating the setting, with references ranging from Ronald Reagan’s anti-union stance to Jean- Michel Basquiat, Michael Jackson, and the Clash. Authors’ notes give background on various aspects of the novel, including autism as a likely diagnosis for JJ, using today’s terms. — Horn Book, starred review

“The coauthors’ equally strong contributions evocatively bring the characters and setting to life through visual poetry. The even pacing makes for an engrossing read, and the characters’ pain and promise will remain with readers. A stellar, hauntingly beautiful narrative.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“In an authentic look at the racial divide that continues today, authors Elliott and Miller-Lachman bring varying degrees of own-voices authenticity to the characterizations and emotions represented. Their multilayered exposure of a specific time in history will resonate with modern readers, who will see these racist acts echoed all too loudly in current events.” — Booklist, starred review

The Ghoul of Windydown Vale by Jake Burt
On Sale Now

In this action-packed mystery from award-winning author Jake Burt, Copper Inskeep holds Windydown Vale’s deepest and darkest secret: he is the ghoul that haunts the Vale, donning a gruesome costume to scare travelers and townsfolk away from the dangers of the surrounding swamps. 

“Burt really puts the swamp into swamp gothic (and the gothic, too). . . . The agony Copper feels as both his assumptions and his loyalties are severely tested is as tangible as the muck in this magnificent, macabre melodrama.” —Booklist, starred review

Happily Ever After Rescue Team: Agents of H.E.A.R.T. by Sam Hay; Illustrations by Genevieve Kote
On Sale Now

A young girl’s wish to help out in her family’s seaside café gets out of hand when she accidentally summons a rescue squad of fairytale princesses in this first book of a fun new illustrated chapter book series, Happily Ever After Rescue Team: Agents of H.E.A.R.T.!.

“Fans of Tracey West’s “Dragonmasters” and Annie ­Barrows’s “Ivy and Bean” will enjoy this new funny fantasy ­series.” School Library Journal, starred review

Olympians: Dionysos by George O’Connor
On Sale March 8, 2022

In the final volume of the New York Times–bestselling Olympians graphic novel series, author/artist George O’Connor focuses on Dionysos, the god of wine and madness.

“A by turns epic, amusing, and tragic caper that’s even more toastworthy.” Kirkus, starred review

Consider the Octopus by Nora Raleigh Baskin and Gae Polisner
On Sale April 5, 2022

When chance, or fate, throws two twelve-year-olds together on board a scientific research ship at the edge of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s not all smooth sailing!

“Superlative writing and character development uplift this timely story . . . An inspiring tale of friendship and conservation.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Starla Jean Takes The Cake by Elana K. Arnold; Illustrated by A. N. Kang
On Sale: 04/05/2022

It’s Willa’s first birthday — a day that doesn’t come along…every day. In fact, it only comes once and Starla Jean is going to make the best out of it for her baby sister. How? A party!

“Perfect to share with family…Starla Jean is the kind of enduring character that readers will turn to time and time again.” – School Library Journal, starred review

Lifeling by Kristy Applebaum
On Sale April 12, 2022

For fans of Tuck Everlasting comes a fantasy adventure from Kirsty Applebaum about a twelve-year-old boy who can bring living creatures back from the point of death—in exchange for part of his own life.


★”[An] earnestly told novel conveys messages of love, loyalty, and sacrifice.” —Publishers Weeklystarred review

“[A] gripping drama full of intense emotion [with a] thought-provoking premise musing on life, love, and sacrifices made for others.” —Kirkus Reviewsstarred review

Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore
On Sale: 03/08/2022

In this young adult novel by award-winning author Anna-Marie McLemore, two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake – but can they keep their worlds above water intact?


“McLemore crafts vivid magic that balances scenes of overwhelming, unregulated emotions given life by the lake with soothing, sincere moments of love, self-affirmation, and gentle humor…A beauty both bright and deep.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“An astonishingly beautiful love letter to neurodivergent and nonbinary teens cast amid a magical lake setting that will pull you in right along with the characters.” —Booklist, starred review

“In this sumptuous tale of magical realism told via alternating perspectives, McLemore holds up realities of being neurodivergent while otherwise marginalized alongside strong friendships and vital family relationships that ground the protagonists.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Delivers mesmerizing magical realism, brilliant portrayals of gender transitioning and genderfluidity, and sensitive representations of living with ADHD and dyslexia…This magnificent YA novel urges acceptance and support, reminding readers that different isn’t wrong, it’s beautiful.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review

The Red Palace by June Hur
On Sale Now

June Hur, critically acclaimed author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls, returns with The Red Palace—a third evocative, atmospheric historical mystery perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Kerri Maniscalco.


“Hur’s Joseon mysteries are groundbreaking, and this retelling of Prince Sado is no exception. … Hur set the bar high with her previous works and has cleared it with room to spare. A tense political thriller, a beautiful romance, and a coming of age all in one unique package.” —School Library Journalstarred review

“This atmospheric historical mystery will transport and captivate readers … Hur deftly incorporates the class system, patriarchal restrictions, and court politics, as well as Korean words, into the storyline, broadening the world and cultural richness of the story … A beautifully written story full of historical and cultural details that will leave readers aching for a follow-up.” —Bookliststarred review

Daughters of a Dead Empire by Carolyn T. O’Neil
On Sale Now

From debut author Carolyn Tara O’Neil comes a thrilling alternate history set during the Russian Revolution.

“A riveting reimagining of a historical legend as a pulse-pounding thriller.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

One for All by Lillie Lainoff
On Sale March 8, 2022

“There are no limits to the will—and the strength—of this unique female hero.” —Tamora Pierce, writer of the Song of the Lioness and the Protector of the Small quartets

“Among the book’s many strengths is its character development, fleshing out each individual with their own charms, quirks, and flaws . . . Lainoff’s debut is a rare treat, telling an honest story about a disabled protagonist in a historical setting without infantilizing the character or glossing over her experience . . . An unforgettable mystery and dashing story woven from threads of chosen family and sisterhood along with bravery, loyalty, and heart.” —Booklist, starred review

Scout’s Honor by Lily Anderson
On Sale April 5, 2022

Prudence Perry is a third-generation Ladybird Scout who must battle literal (and figurative) monsters and the weight of her legacy in this YA paranormal perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


“Anderson deftly balances snarky humor and heart-thumping action with affecting discussions about friendship, inclusivity, and mental health. The surprise-studded plot seamlessly integrates both Anderson’s clever, unique mythology and excerpts from the Ladybird Handbook, and the realistically rendered, intersectionally diverse cast is kind, charismatic, and full of moxie.” —Publishers WeeklyStarred Review

“Anderson. . .has written a ridiculously fun and campy horror romp, which also incorporates thoughtful commentary about mental and emotional health, inclusion, and facing your fears.” —BooklistStarred Review

“With a sly sense of humor and nostalgia . . . author Lily Anderson offers a clever subversion of “chosen one” narratives as the novel explores tantalizing “what ifs” like “What if Buffy had just gone to a psychiatrist?” and “What if Girl Scouts were masters of cookies—and karate?” It’s an absurd premise, but Anderson makes it work through unself-conscious world building and a skillful blend of fantastical and real-world threats. . . It’s hilarious and heart-wrenching in equal measure. ” —BookPageStarred Review

“The metaphorical level is there for readers inclined to dig for it, but they, particularly the Buffy fans among them, will be better off reveling in the whirl of teen angst and ichor-spattered fun.” – Kirkus, starred review

The Well by Jacob Wyatt; Illustrated by Choo
On Sale April 12, 2022

A fantasy graphic novel about Lizzy, a girl who gets cursed by a wishing well, and her adventure to grant three wishes in order to break free.


“The Well features numerous same-gender couples, including a romance between Lizzy and another young woman. VERDICT A quick, immersive, and gorgeous read that’s welcome on any graphic novel shelf.” —School Library Journalstarred review

“There’s a timelessness to this story as the weight of family secrets, the desire to change a life through wishes, and the magic of tapping one’s own strengths are themes that echo backward and forward across humanity. Lizzy is a worthy protagonist, drawing on her family legacies and the support of her steadfast grandfather to bolster her as she realizes that one doesn’t always get to choose whether they are going to change the world, but they do get to decide who they will be in the process.” —BCCBstarred review

“Wyatt and Choo’s gorgeously illustrated adventure follows a classic three-quest fairy tale structure, but the matter-of-fact queer representation and lush, manga-inspired artwork set it apart… With captivating artwork and a compelling adventure that has surprising depth, this is a top pick for teen readers who liked Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam.” —Bookliststarred review