Middle-Grade Monday | #CYBILS2023 Book Reviews 12.18.2023

This week’s featured books have windows, mirrors, and sliding doors.

Tweens will both connect with and learn from Anna, Mia, and the people in their lives. Through them they will learn more about cultural heritage, belief systems, belonging, and themselves, too.

And, as you’ll see from our reviewers’ comments, we adults can learn a thing or two, as well.

Summaries via Goodreads. Clicking the cover takes you there.


Jessica @ Cracking the Cover – This is one of those books that just hits all the marks. It’s smart. It’s sensitive. And it makes readers take a good look at their own experiences. What Happened to Rachel Riley? is a book that sticks with you. It’s a book both tweens and their parents should read. I originally checked my review copy out from the library, but I plan to purchase a copy for my 9-year-old to read when she’s a little bit older. It’s an outstanding read for girls AND boys as they head into middle/junior high school. NOTE: The publisher’s suggested age for What Happened to Rachel Riley? is 8-12. I think it skews a bit higher, ages 10 or 11 and up.

Melissa @ Book Nut – I love a good story told through found documents, and this one was fun. There were some prose sections, so it wasn’t entirely found documents, but much lot of it was. And it’s a smart story as well. I liked how Anna had to piece things together, and how the reader was never too far ahead, so I never felt like I was waiting for Anna to catch up. I loved the dynamic of Anna’s family, and how she slowly made friends at her school – moving right before 8th grade is hard, and I liked how Swinarski portrayed that.


Gary Anderson @ What’s Not Wrong – Another excellent title from Heartdrum [HarperCollins Imprint].  Two Tribes respectfully shows both Jewish and Muscogee culture, and young readers are likely to find the traditions interesting as seen through Mia’s eyes. The larger issue explored in Two Tribes is that adolescents are figuring out and experimenting with their identities as they transition from what has been taught and expected by their parents into a more independent version of themselves. This version is likely to include much of what they have been taught but might also incorporate elements foreign or even offensive to their parents.

TheNextGenLibrarian @ Goodreads – The artwork wasn’t my favorite and something just kept it from being a full 5 ⭐️ but the representation was *chef’s kiss*. I learned so much about both Judaism and Indigenous cultures/religions through this book and know that it’s information all our kids need to learn more about too.

Deborah @ Goodreads – I loved this GN. I learned a lot about both the Jewish and Muskogee backgrounds that I didn’t know before. A beautifully drawn GN focusing on acceptance and learning to love more than one side of your self.