Kirkus Reviews has announced the finalists for the 2023 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers. The finalists for the young readers’ category are divided into three subcategories, Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult.
Together We Swim by Valerie Bolling and Kaylani Juanita
Jumping into the water can be more than a little scary! But with Mom’s steady arms there’s no fear of sinking. With a kick, a splash, and his family’s cheers of encouragement, one determined boy finds his groove, making waves in this fun-filled day at the pool.
Embrace the feeling of accomplishment in this joyous, reassuring story about perseverance and new experiences. With lyrical rhyming text and vibrant illustrations, Together We Swim is destined to become a family read-aloud favorite!
João by a Thread by Roger Mello, translated by Daniel Hahn
As João tucks under a lovingly woven quilt, he asks himself: So it’s just me now? He curls up, getting cozy in bed, and soon the world of his dreams unspools on the page. The blanket in his bed unravels into deep rivers, lakes, valleys, reservoirs, mountain ranges, fishing nets full of tadpoles and gaping holes, until what’s left is just one long thread. When he feels alone and scared in the dark, João “sews words like patchwork” into a new blanket to cover himself up. He weaves the threads of his quilt until they form one long sentence, and soon, the nighttime is peppered with his own silvery, slippery words. Roger Mello draws like a shapeshifter – to look at his illustrations is always to see something you missed before (a stingray, a crescent moon nestled into the palm of João’s hand). His breathtaking line drawings, beaming in white thread against deep red, combined with poetic and bewildered language, make João by a Thread a book to take into bed at the edge of sleep, just before you start to dream.
Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston
Julia has followed her mum and dad to live on a remote island for the summer – her dad, for work; her mother, on a determined mission to find the elusive Greenland shark. But when her mother’s obsession threatens to submerge them all, Julia finds herself on an adventure with dark depths and a lighthouse full of hope…
The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen
Jon Klassen’s signature wry humor takes a turn for the ghostly in this thrilling retelling of a traditional Tyrolean folktale. In a big abandoned house, on a barren hill, lives a skull. A brave girl named Otilla has escaped from terrible danger and run away, and when she finds herself lost in the dark forest, the lonely house beckons. Her host, the skull, is afraid of something too, something that comes every night. Can brave Otilla save them both? Steeped in shadows and threaded with subtle wit—with rich, monochromatic artwork and an illuminating author’s note—The Skull is as empowering as it is mysterious and foreboding.
America Redux: Visual Stories From Our Dynamic History by Ariel Aberg-Riger
merica Redux explores the themes that create our shared sense of American identity and interrogates the myths we’ve been telling ourselves for centuries. With iconic American catchphrases as chapter titles, these twenty-one visual stories illuminate the astonishing, unexpected, sometimes darker sides of history that reverberate in our society to this very day–from the role of celebrity in immigration policy to the influence of one small group of white women on education to the effects of “progress” on housing and the environment, to the inspiring force of collective action and mutual aid across decades and among diverse groups.
Fully illustrated with collaged archival photographs, maps, documents, graphic elements, and handwritten text, this book is a dazzling, immersive experience that jumps around in time and will make you view history in a whole different light.
The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch
Spence and Anthony have been friends for years, but it’s only when he witnesses a classmate die in what looks like a tragic accident at a house party that a flicker in the fabric of time helps Spence ‘see’ Anthony for the first time.
When Spence wakes up to the same day again and sees Clara, the girl who died, alive and well, it’s clear he’s been granted a second chance. And a third. And a fourth…
Caught in a loop, condemned to experience the same 24 hours over and over, Spence tries to prevent the terrible events of the party.
To break the spell he has to re-evaluate everything he previously took for granted and find the courage to call out his own and others complicity in events that marked the life and death of Clara Hart.