What I love most about my job is that the celebrations never seem to stop—we just feted the best of 2022, and now it’s time to look ahead to the 2023 titles we’re excited about. Read on for some kid lit you won’t want to miss—from poignant graphic memoirs to quirky picture-book tributes to hats.

Two stunning picture books honor those who make us what we are. In Zeno Sworder’s My Strange Shrinking Parents (Thames & Hudson, Jan. 10), the narrator’s Chinese immigrant parents trade inches from their height in exchange for a better life for their son—a powerful metaphor for the sacrifices many immigrant families make. With Remember (Random House Studio, March 21), two powerhouse creators team up—Joy Harjo, the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate, and Michaela Goade, the first Indigenous artist to win the Caldecott. Harjo’s stirring ode to all that shapes us—our ancestors, nature—is made accessible by Goade’s transcendent illustrations.

With Very Good Hats (Rocky Pond Books/Penguin, Jan. 10), adult novelist Emma Straub demonstrates that her creative gifts extend to the picture-book realm. She argues that anything can be a hat if looked at the right way (what is a roof if not a hat for a house, and doesn’t a doll’s shoe make a fetching cap for a finger?), while Blanca Gómez’s winsome collage art amps up the whimsy.

While Straub and Gómez’s story will keep kids giggling, Shadra Strickland’s picture book Jump In! (Bloomsbury, Jan. 31) will have them on their feet, ready to take Strickland’s invitation to heart. In this “moving, grooving snapshot of urban life,” to quote our review, members of a diverse, predominantly Black community spend a hot, fun-filled day jumping rope with joyful abandon.

Nonfiction makes a strong showing this year, too. In Kwame Alexander’s picture book An American Story (Little, Brown, Jan. 3), illustrated by Dare Coulter, a teacher gently but probingly explores the topic of slavery with students. This visual masterpiece is a stinging rebuke to anyone arguing that it’s too difficult to teach children about our nation’s history of racism.

Some of my favorite new nonfiction pushes readers to reconsider the ordinary. Dan Santat’s graphic memoir, A First Time for Everything (First Second, Feb. 28), centers on the author’s 1989 tour of Europe; rather than grand sites like the Louvre, it’s the small moments, in all their awkward, tender, and even romantic glory, that take center stage. Likewise, after finishing Anita Sanchez’s compelling The Forest in the Sea: Seaweed Solutions to Planetary Problems (Holiday House, Feb. 21), middle graders won’t be on the lookout for anything so pedestrian as seashells on their next beach trip—it’s nourishing, life-sustaining seaweed that they’ll want to see.

Finally, readers eager to dive into the fantastical have plenty to anticipate, including a novel from Angie Thomas…yes, Angie Thomas. With Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, April 4), a gripping work set in Mississippi and rooted in African folklore, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey, Thomas moves away from realistic YA but keeps the things readers have come to love about her books: an emphasis on family, a strong narrative voice, and deft use of humor. Lucy Strange’s Sisters of the Lost Marsh (Chicken House/Scholastic, Jan. 3) is a lush, atmospheric tale of a girl in search of her missing sibling, threaded with themes of sororal bonds in the face of misogyny. M.T. Anderson’s Elf Dog and Owl Head (Candlewick, April 11), illustrated by Junyi Wu, follows a boy who encounters a series of creatures from other realms. Juxtaposing the bizarre—people with the heads of owls, a terrifying, giant, snakelike “wyrm”—with the mundanity of pandemic life yields a story that somehow feels all the more intimate for its odd subject matter.

Mahnaz Dar is a young readers’ editor.