February 3, 2023

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10 of the best new children’s books in December 2022

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Can you believe it’s the last month of 2022!? It seems unbelievable. December is a big month for me – not only do I have to worry about the holidays, but my daughter’s birthday is also in this month. She turns 5, which also seems impossible. This will be her first birthday party since the pandemic and we’re celebrating her in a playground where I hope it doesn’t get too cold! The weather in Tennessee can go either way in December. In case you’re wondering what books we’re getting her for her birthday or Christmas, I plan to get her the Kitty Quest graphic novels and maybe some of the early readers of Mindy Kim and Critter Club. She loves them!

I’ve also reviewed many of the books in this list of December children’s book releases that will make great last minute gift ideas or ways to spend bookstore gift cards you’ve received. There’s a new boardbook in the First Conversations series, a new picture book by Stacey Abrams, and a new graphic novel by Enola Holmes. Although December tends to be a slower publishing month, I found many books that I was happy to publish this month. I wish everyone a happy holiday full of good books and good company!

Children’s book releases in December: Board Books

Together: A First Conversation About Love by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, illustrated by Anne/Andy Passchier (December 27; Rise x Penguin Workshop)

The newest boardbook, First Conversations, explores love and the many forms love takes. Like the previous books in the series, it embraces diversity, and the illustrations capture many different types of families and love, from a family reading a book online with an incarcerated caregiver, to a queer couple getting married. The book also provides background material to help caregivers have important conversations about love and relationships with their children. It’s an interactive storytelling program that stimulates conversation, perfect for preschoolers.

Children’s Book Releases in December: Picture Books

10 of the best new children’s books in December 2022

Dark on Light by Dianne White illustrated by Felicita Sala (December 6; Beach Lane Books)

This poetic picture book contrasts light and dark as siblings explore nature at sunset and then: ‘Inviting the trail. Shy the fawn. / Dark the hedge that borders the lawn. / Lavender flowers, fragrant and luminous. / Hedge and track and dark on light.” White’s hypnotic prose will have young readers singing and inventing their own lyrics. Sala’s beautiful, warm illustrations perfectly balance the dark/light theme as children explore the many wonders of nature. It is a beautiful ode to the night and that nebulous time between waking and sleeping.

Cover of Stacey's Remarkable Books by Abrams

Stacey’s Remarkable Books by Stacey Abrams, illustrated by Kitt Thomas (December 13; Balzer + Bray)

The sequel to Stacey’s Extraordinary Words follows a young Stacey Abrams as she shares her love of the library with a new student who is still learning to read English. Stacey enjoys reading books during recess, and that’s where she first meets Julie. Julie also likes to read but can’t keep up with Stacey. Stacey can’t wait to show Julie around the library during library hours on Thursday, and her librarian, Mr McCormick, gives her a warm welcome. Together, Stacey and Julie explore the magic of books and are soon joined by other kids in their class. This is a beautiful ode to books, libraries and friendships; one that any book lover will adore, no matter the age.

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Cover of The Universe in You by Chin

The Universe Within You by Jason Chin (December 13; Neal Porter Books)

Caldecott Medalist Jason Chin follows his large-format non-fiction book, Your Place in the Universe, with a microscopic journey into life’s tiny building blocks. It starts with the Calliope hummingbird, the smallest bird in the United States. Each page shrinks as Chin explores microns, cells, atoms, elementary particles, and more, eventually connecting it all to the universe. Anyone familiar with Chin’s work will not be surprised by the beautiful illustrations. The book also has extensive background material to learn more about. The main character of the child, while not part of the narrative, is a brown wheelchair user, which is refreshing to see.

Cover of Keyana Loves Her Family by Tarpley

Keyana Loves Her Family by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (December 13; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Keyana is a girl with lots of ideas and an urge to tackle them. She decides to host a family movie night and immediately starts planning to make sure everything is perfect. However, when her twin cousins ​​make some noise during the film, everything is ruined. The screen falls over, popcorn and cookies fly and the projector breaks. How will Keyana fix everything? Luckily, her love of family and big ideas helps her find another way to celebrate movie night with her family. This is a super fun picture book about family love and dealing with disappointment.

Cover of the Hugs catalog by Stein

The Catalog of Hugs by Joshua David Stein and Augustus Heeren Stein illustrated by and Elizabeth Lilly (December 27; Rise x Penguin Workshop)

Written by a father/son team, this adorable series of hugs is part picture book, part gift book for parents. Each page features a different type of hug, from “The Necklace,” where a child hangs around an elderly man’s neck as he attempts to sip coffee and check his phone, to “The Rolling Hug,” where a Child seated on a motor The arm of a wheelchair hugs a male carer while another child walks alongside them. Each illustration is lovingly drawn with pops of color and minimal to no background, instead focusing on a variety of caregivers and children sharing special, snuggly moments. The back lists even more hugs for kids to try.

Cover of Tomorrow is a New Year by Kim

Tomorrow is Aram Kim’s New Year (December 27; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

In this delightful picture book, Mina shares Korean customs for the Lunar New Year, Seollal, with her class. She wears her hanbok, shows the class sabae (a respectful salute to the elders), plays Korean games, and her mother brings Korean sweets for all of the bokyumoni—their lucky bags. But when Mina’s little brother shows up and throws a tantrum because his hanbok is too itchy, Mina worries the day is ruined. However, the other students in the class help cheer up their brother and they continue to celebrate Seollal. The last few pages show how to fold a paper bokyumoni. This is an excellent classroom book to use during the Lunar New Year and great for the home too! I will definitely make a bokyumoni with my daughter.

Children’s book releases in December: Middle grade

Cover of the Ode to Nobody by DuBois

Ode to a Nobody by Caroline Brooks DuBois (December 6; cottage)

This beautiful middle-grade verse novel is set after a tornado. Eighth grader Quinn doesn’t feel like she’s particularly good at anything, but as long as she has the few things she enjoys—her best friend Jack, her hamster, and skateboarding—she’s fine. She has to write poems for English class every day, which become novels. When the tornado hits, Quinn is forced to move out of her destroyed home while her father fixes it. She and her family have a complicated relationship: her mother and father split, for which Quinn blames himself, and Quinn’s father has a crush on her older brother, who no longer lives with them. Things only get worse when Jack makes a new friend who constantly bullies Quinn. Everything seems destroyed and Quinn doesn’t know how to fix any of it. This is a beautifully written novel.

Cover of Enola Holmes: The Graphic Novels Book 2 by Blasco

Enola Holmes: The Graphic Novels Book 2 by Serena Blasco (December 6; Andrews McMeel Publishing)

This is Serena Blasco’s second graphic novel compilation based on Nancy Springer’s popular middle-class historical mystery series. It contains three stories: “The Case of the Curious Pink Fan”, “The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline” and “The Case of Baker Street Station”. In these stories, Enola investigates tea shops, rescues kidnapped women, tries to find her mother, and receives many cryptic messages that must be deciphered. Oh, and of course she’s dodging her troublesome brothers Mycroft and Sherlock. Blasco’s illustrations are vibrant and colorful and so fun to read whether you’ve read the original novels or not.

Cover of Deadly Hearts by Burgan

Deadly Hearts: History’s Most Dangerous People by Michael Burgan (December 27; Penguin Workshop)

Middle-class readers who enjoy the dark and disturbing will love this biography collection of 16 of the cruellest and deadliest people in ancient and contemporary history. From Attila the Hun to Hungarian serial killer Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, these profiles, though brief, paint a disturbing picture of evil. Karl James Mountford illustrates each biography with black and white portraits.

If you’re looking for more new children’s book releases, check out my listings for September, October, and November. You can also find a full list of new releases in the magical New Releases Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.