#Cybils2022 Middle Grade Fiction


Air: A Novel
Monica Roe
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Nominated by: JF

Twelve-year-old Emmie is a wheelchair athlete and wants nothing more than to someday own a chair that she can truly show off her skills with, one day maybe even competing in wheelchair motocross. Emmie and her best friend, Claire, put their business skills to work and are slowly raising the money, one wheelchair backpack at a time. When the opportunity comes to make her fundraising efforts public, Emmie is initially excited, knowing her dreams for the perfect wheelchair will come true much sooner, but she becomes increasingly more uncomfortable as it’s made apparent that she is the “good cause” her school is raising money for. Emmie is forced to decide just how much of herself she is willing to give to gain access to the wheelchair of her dreams. Emmie is a spunky, confident main character who readers will love to root for and will have a blast following her story. – Amanda Sealey, A Patchwork of Books

Attack of the Black Rectangles
A. S. King
Scholastic Press
Nominated by: Gary Anderson

Censorship is a hot topic this year and Amy Sarig King is tackling it with her new book The Attack of the Black Rectangles. It’s about Mac, a middle schooler, who is surprised to find that his new reading teacher has censored the book their class is reading about the Holocaust by blacking out words related to women’s anatomy. With support from his grandfather and his best friends, Mac takes his protest out into the community and finds more support than he ever dreamed. This is a wonderful story of friendship, hope and grace that will resonate with lots of readers. Don’t miss it! – Debbie Tanner

Amina Luqman-Dawson
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: LibraryMiranda

n this ambitious historical novel, an ensemble cast tells the story of a secret community in the Great Dismal Swamp built by formerly enslaved individuals. Homer, who escaped slavery, wants to go back and rescue his mother. Sanzi has grown up a wild and free child of the swamp, but wants to know what lies beyond its bounds. Nora is the daughter of the plantation owner; when she sees how her nanny is treated, she knows she has to create change. Anna, another young enslaved person on the plantation, has her own secret plans for becoming free. These young voices – and many more – twine together, circling the Freewater colony, as those within the community seek true freedom, and those who claim ownership of others seek to destroy it. A perfect read for children who love an immersive setting and complex plot, and for those who want to learn resistance stories in American History – Elizabeth Carter

Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone
Tae Keller
Random House Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: erinentrada

Middle school is often described as the years of adolescence to dread, and Jennifer Chan has every reason to dread her school days. The new girl in a small town, Jennifer not only believes in aliens but is also not afraid to talk about them to anyone who will listen. Mallory, her neighbor and classmate, encourages Jennifer to keep quiet about her seemingly odd beliefs in order to prevent the inevitable bullying that will follow. After Jennifer disappears, Mallory is forced to confront her own beliefs – not only about extraterrestrials but also about what friendship really means and the lengths she’s willing to go to protect her own. At times intense, Jennifer Chan is Not Alone confronts the aftereffects of bullying, while realistically portraying tween friendship. Tae Keller has created a story not simply of belief vs. unbelief, but one of understanding, compassion, and the complexity of hope in the unknown. – Amanda Sealey, A Patchwork of Books

Varsha Bajaj
Nancy Paulsen Books
Nominated by: Seth

Twelve-year-old Minni, the heroine of THIRST, lives in the poorest slum of Mumbai, India, in a shack with no indoor plumbing. Her crowded neighborhood is served by a communal tap, where residents must wait for hours to collect water to haul back to their homes. It’s an arduous task that’s made even more difficult by long lines, water shortages and theft of the precious liquid by the local mafia. When Minni is forced to leave school to work in an elegant high-rise where water flows freely with the magical twist of a knob, she’s stunned to see just how different life is for the rich people in her city. She’s even more surprised to discover her employer is a water mafia boss wanted by the police. Minni’s family is counting on her wages, but her community needs water. Will bringing her boss to justice help? Or will it just lead to the loss of Minni’s job and maybe even her life? Does Minni have the courage to find out? THIRST is a vivid, eye-opening read that helps readers understand the realities of living in extreme poverty in an intimate, personal way. Minni’s empowering optimism provides an inspiring counterpoint to her grim living situation and her story teaches valuable lessons about the importance of hard work, education, friendship, and standing up to bullies. THIRST is a fast-paced, engrossing read that will resonate with readers young and old, helping all of us to appreciate the little luxuries we take for granted every day. – Susan Jensen, Bloggin About Books

Wishing Upon the Same Stars
Jacquetta Nammar Feldman
HarperCollins Childrens
Nominated by: HeyStayAwesome

Wishing Upon the Same Stars is a story about finding common ground. When Yasmeen’s Arab family moves across the country, they experience culture shock as they discover that San Antonio Texas is very different from the Arab community they had in Detroit. This is a story about prejudice and mean girls as Yasmeen navigates friendships at her new school. When she befriends her Israeli Jewish neighbor, Ayelet, she knows her Palestinian father won’t approve. Ayelet’s father runs the Math Club, where Yasmeen finally feels like she belongs, but she thinks that she must keep her participation in the club as well as her friendship with Ayelet a secret. This story does a wonderful job of explaining the Israel/Palestine conflict in a way that children can understand. Through these two girls’ families, we get to see the conflict from both of their perspectives. This is such a heartwarming story of friendship and family and finding the good in people. – Emily Cook, History Book by Book

Ali Standish
Nominated by: EmilyC

Yonder is a beautifully layered story about friendship, what it means to be a hero, coming of age, and realizing the world isn’t as rosy as you’d once believed. Told in a non-linear timeline using flashbacks, you learn about the history of Danny’s friendship with Jack Bailey. Danny has looked up to Jack Bailey as a hero for years, ever since he rescued two children from drowning during the Great Flood of 1940. But in their small Appalachian town of Foggy Gap, Jack is an outcast, and when he disappears, no one seems to care but Danny. It takes Danny’s investigation to discover that there’s more to being a hero than what he imagined. This is a well-researched historical fiction that gives you a window into life on the American Homefront in the 1940s. With vivid characters and beautiful writing, this story is not to be missed! – Emily Cook, History Book by Book