#Cybils2022 Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction


Children of the Quicksands
Efua Traore
Chicken House
Nominated by: Kim Aippersbach

Simi’s mother raised her in a protective bubble in Lagos, which did nothing to prepare her for a summer spent with her grandmother in a remote village, where the magic of the Yoruba gods and goddesses is real, and modern conveniences aren’t. There she is confronted with a mystery of vanished children, an unhappy Goddess, and a lake of quicksand that sucks her into a magical bubble world where other children are trapped. She escapes, and begins to unravel the stories at the heart of the mystery, including her own family tragedy and her grandmother’s connection to the Goddess who created the lake. The fantasy side of the story is compelling and distinctive–though there is very real danger, loss, and heartbreak, there is no larger-than-life villain here to be defeated, and Simi is no special Chosen One. Equally engrossing is the beautifully detailed real world story of a city girl adjusting to a rural way of life, who learns how to adapt and becomes a true member of a vibrant community. Truly a winning combination! – Charlotte Taylor, Charlotte’s Library

Eden’s Everdark
Karen Strong
Simon & Schuster
Nominated by: Pat Zietlow Miller

This stunning and thoroughly engrossing horror adventure book immerses readers in a nightmare, with the horrific history of slavery adding depth to the already blood-chilling setting. When Eden meets her deceased mother’s family for the first time, they embrace her. But their island home has a dark side. Eden wanders into Everdark, a strange parallel world. There she is captured by the Witch of Everdark, who is determined to keep her as a daughter in a terrifying version of an opulent mansion that once belonged to slave owners. The characters, both living and dead, are wonderfully complex and mysterious. Readers will be fully invested in Eden’s attempts to escape Everdark by drawing both on her own magical heritage and her strength of character to break and heal intergenerational trauma. – Jolynn Asato, Literacyedprof

Fenris & Mott
Greg van Eekhout 
Nominated by: Rosemary Kiladitis

Mythological mayhem crashes into the real world, in the form of a wolf puppy, Fenris, who’s about to unwittingly set Ragnarok in motion, and who’s rescued by an ordinary girl, Mott. Now alongside her regular, very relatable, anxieties, Mott has a wolf puppy to defend, and Norse magic gone wild to deal with. Along with the fantastical danger the world is in, there’s also extreme environmental danger. Mott wants to save both Fenris and the world, and the tension keeps building beautifully. It’s funny and sweet as all get out (Fenris makes an adorable puppy), and it’s also a page turner of a high stakes romp! An utterly delightful book, with thought-provoking real world seasoning! – Charlotte Taylor, Charlotte’s Library

Freddie vs. the Family Curse 
Tracy Badua
Clarion Books
Nominated by: Greg Pattridge

This supernatural caper about a boy who unleashes the spirit of his great uncle, responsible for the family curse, is full of heart and humor. Freddie’s many cringe-worthy antics and the loving, but often sarcastic, commentary of his family were both hilarious and relatable. At its core, this book celebrates Freddie’s Filipino-American family and does a beautiful job of substantively weaving in important themes of history, culture, community, and tradition into a madcap, magical adventure. – Jolynn Asato, Literacyedprof

The Clackity
Lora Senf
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Deb

Unapologetically scary and occasionally stomach-turningly grotesque, The Clackity reads like a mash-up of old-school fairy tales and modern horror. The prose is musical, the plot keeps the pages turning, and the emotional honesty keeps it grounded even in an entirely fantastical setting. Featuring an episodic structure that’ll appeal to gaming fans, our heroine is tasked with traversing seven dangerous houses full of puzzles and traps, suspicious characters and unwelcome surprises–and all she’s got on her side is her knowledge of fairy tales, her tenacity, her techniques for keeping her panic attacks under control… and an entirely original animal companion that might prompt young readers to start making plans for their first tattoo. –Leila Roy, Bookshelves of Doom

The Marvellers (Marvellerverse, 1)
Dhonielle Clayton, illustrated by Khadijah Khatib
Henry Holt & Co.
Nominated by: Jenna

Ella Durand has grown up near New Orleans in a magical family that practices the traditional arts of Conjure. Historically, though, Conjure has been considered somewhere between lesser and downright wicked by the rest of the magical community, the Marvellers. So when Ella enrolls in the Marveller’s magic school, the Arcanum Training Institute, her experience is both exciting and fraught. The Marveller’s world is filled with tradition and whimsy, including delightful foods, adorable creatures, steampunk/futuristic transportation, unique characters – and a villain that the adults refuse to believe is there. This is an engrossing read for any kid or would-be kid looking for a magical school to call their own. – Katy Kramp, A Library Mama

The Mirrorwood
Deva Fagan
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Sheila Ruth

A girl without a face stars in this cleverly reinventive fantasy tale that has roots in Sleeping Beauty. The story twists and turns with never a dull moment as Fable encounters imaginative riddles, illusions, and challenges on her quest to free the Mirrorwood from its demon-prince. The folks who support Fable along the way (including a girl intent on killing her, a normalized queer family, and a fantastic feline sidekick) elevate the story. With themes of finding your identity and recognizing the experiences of others, The Mirrorwood is a fairy tale adventure with plenty that will enchant young readers. – Jenna Grose, Falling Letters