23 Stars in 2022

23 Stars in 2022 for Astra Books for Young Readers

2022 was a spectacular year for starred reviews at Astra Books for Young Readers, with 22 stars across our children’s imprints, to be exact! 

Here’s to celebrating our starry titles that released this past year:

Fire Chief Fran - Four Stars - Picture Book


A Kirkus Reviews Best Book

Perfect for fans of firefighters and fire trucks, this energetic rhyming picture book shows how a fire chief and her crew keep their community safe.

★ “A must-have for all community helper collections.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★  “This book is on fire!” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★  “A first-rate portrayal of first responders.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “A noteworthy, enjoyable addition to firefighter themed books and an informative, engaging, and uncommonly inspiring introduction to the subject.” —Booklist, starred review

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester - Best Young Adult


A Kirkus Reviews Best Book

A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book

In this queer contemporary YA mystery, a nonbinary autistic teen realizes they must not only solve a 30-year-old mystery but also face the demons lurking in their past in order to live a satisfying life. 

★ “A top-notch blend of contemporary fiction and mystery with a satisfying conclusion…a thrilling debut featuring lovable and well-developed characters.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Equal parts delicate and devastating, MacGregor’s thought-provoking prose, evocative settings, and vividly characterized cast combine to provide a hopeful look at survival and closure.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “This vibrantly written debut novel masterfully blends a suspenseful and satisfying paranormal mystery with a sweet and tender love story.” —School Library Journal, starred review

City Under the City - Best Children's Book


A Publishers Weekly Big Indie Book for Fall 

101 Great Books for Kids List, Evanston Public Library (IL)

From acclaimed author-illustrator Dan Yaccarino comes an exhilarating adventure—set in a richly imagined alternate future—celebrating autonomy, community, and the power of reading.

★ “Librarians and educators can hardly go wrong with a book that celebrates unimpeded literacy with such verve.” —  The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Recommended

★ “A stirring and thought-provoking tribute to the power of books, reading and human connection.” —  Horn Book, starred review

To the Front - Best Book of the Year


Eureka! Nonfiction Silver Honor Award (California Reading Association)

This powerful tribute to Civil War nurse Clara Barton and her heroic efforts during the Battle of Antietam reveals how she earned the name “The Angel of the Battlefield,” and shows the beginnings of her journey as one of our country’s greatest humanitarians and the founder of the American Red Cross.

★ “(A) riveting tribute to the ‘Angel of the Battle-field’…” —Booklist, starred review

★ “A brilliant introduction to the Civil War for students of any age and demonstrates how one determined person can make a world of difference.” —School Library Connection, starred review

Seeing Freedom - best Book of the Year


A New York Public Library Best Book for Kids 

In this dramatic Civil War story, a courageous enslaved fugitive teams with a cunning Union general to save a Union fort from the Confederates–and triggers the end of slavery in the United States. This is the first children’s nonfiction book about a Black unsung hero who remains relevant today and to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

★ “This beautifully illustrated picture book enables readers to see the Civil War from a different point of view.” —Booklist, starred review

★ “This is a thrilling tale of bravery and cunning, the courage of [George] Scott, and the shrewd actions of General [Benjamin] Butler…Fascinating facts combine with vivid illustrations in a truly powerful recounting of a crucial point in history.” —School Library Connection, starred review

American Murderer, YALSA winner, best books of 2022


A YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist

A School Library Journal Best Book

Included on NPR’s 2022 “Books We Love” List

Eureka! Nonfiction Silver Honor Award (California Reading Association)

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book

Evanston (IL) Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids 2022

What made workers in the American South so tired and feeble during the 19th and early 20th centuries? This exciting medical mystery uncovers the secrets of the parasite hookworm, commonly known as the “American Murderer,” and is the latest title in Gail Jarrow’s (YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award-winning author) Medical Fiascoes series.

★ “Jarrow’s impeccable research and fascinating details will keep [readers] hooked…an engrossing blend of history and STEM.” —Booklist, starred review

Born Hungry - Best Book of the Year


How did Julia Child become one of America’s most celebrated and beloved chefs? Her grandnephew reveals her story in this picture book that Jacques Pepin calls a “vivid portrait . . . an enjoyable read.” Julia’s kid-friendly recipe for Oeufs Brouillés (Scrambled Eggs) is included!

★ “(A) charming, intimate biography of Julia… this is a must for foodies-in-training…”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

Jack Knight's Brave Flight - Best Book of the Year


High-flying history is brought to life in this suspenseful story of an unknown and daring pilot named Jack Knight, who in 1921 flew his biplane straight into a blizzard over America’s heartland and saved the US Air Mail Service in the process.

★ “A riveting journey about an undersung aviator.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Secret Life of the Sea Otter - Best Books of the Year


Follow a year in the life of an adorable sea otter as she creatively hunts for food, deftly avoids danger from a great white shark, and gives birth to a pup.

★ “This is a wonderful, unforgettable sea adventure…a juvenile nonfiction treasure; ­highly recommended to all libraries who serve children.” —School Library Journal, starred review

Ethel's Song - Best Books of the Year


A Tablet Magazine Best Jewish Children’s Book 2022

Convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union against the United States, Ethel Rosenberg shares the story of her beliefs, loves, secrets, betrayals, and injustices in this compelling YA novel in verse.

★”Told in verse, this is a story of persistence and resilience… (a) jaw-dropping true story for any YA reader interested in U.S. political history.” —School Library Journal, starred review

The Flying Man - Best Book of the Year


Here is the little-known history of Otto Lilienthal, a daring man whose more than 2,000 successful flights inspired the Wright Brothers and other aviation pioneers.

★ “Readers will marvel at Lilienthal’s perseverance of his dream…. [and] will enjoy learning about a not very well-known designer and inventor of flying machines, making this book a missing link in collections about aviation and flight.” —School Library Journal, starred review

Infinity - Best Book of the Year


Eureka! Nonfiction Silver Honor Award (California Reading Association)

★ “This attractive offering will enhance STEAM collections and spark curiosity and conversation among young readers.” —Booklist, starred review

Mr. McCloskey's Marvelous Mallards - Best Books of the Year


This behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the classic and beloved picture book Make Way for Ducklings will captivate young artists, writers, readers, and animal lovers alike.

★”Make way for a comical episode that offers insight into the hard work of creativity, in general and in the case of one picture book that has been admired and loved for generations.” —School Library Journal, starred review

Road Trip - Best Book of the Year


Join Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs on their pioneering camping trips during the early 1900s in this energetic and entertaining nonfiction picture-book adventure.

★  “An entertaining and informative picture book describing the camping adventures of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, John Burroughs, and Harvey Firestone… dynamic and engaging…” —School Library Journal, starred review

Revolutionary Prudence Wright - Best Books of 2022


Here is the first-ever picture book about female Revolutionary War activist Prudence Wright, who rallied the first and only group of “minute women” to fight the British, changing history in the process.

★ “Vivid, absorbing, and inspiring. ” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review


What little animal lover wouldn’t want to set all the animals in the zoo free and fly through the sky with them? Lift-the-flap and open the door to join Lola and the animals, with an accordion fold that turns the pages into a stand-up story-telling scroll!

★“The wordlessness, unconventional art style, and unusual continuous visual storytelling of Imapla’s book make it feel like more of a stunning art piece than a typical children’s book. A clever concept, beautifully designed and executed.” — School Library Journal, starred review