Middle-Grade Monday | #CYBILS2023 Book Reviews 12.25.2023

Thanks to the magic of scheduling, we can share reviews AND spend time with family and friends. That’s our kind of multi-tasking.

Navigating tweendom is neither straightforward, predictable, nor easy. Yet the “process”of trying to figure out who you are is universal, whether it’s 1905 or 2023.

In the historical fiction novel A Sky Full of Song, Soshana is a newly-arrived Jewish immigrant who is trying to balance her Jewish identity with a new, American one, as well as a changing relationship with her sister, whose opinions are different than her own.

In Cross My Heart and Never Lie, Tuva shares the ups, downs, change, and choices that come with being a in the seventh grade.

Summary excerpts come from Goodreads. Click the cover to add this book to your TBR.


Susan Bloggin’Bout Books @ Goodreads – I love books about pioneers, homesteading, and life in turn-of-the-century America. A Sky Full of Song explores this setting, but with a Jewish twist. I’d never thought about those pioneers who fled the Russian Empire to escape persecution in the late 1800s/early 1900s and ended up homesteading out on the lonely prairies of such far-flung places as North Dakota. The book is mostly episodic, without a lot of plot to drive the narrative. Because of this, the story sags a bit at times. It’s compelling enough, just not exactly engrossing. I enjoyed the setting and the (mostly) sympathetic, likable characters. The novel teaches some good lessons about being proud of who you are, standing up to bullies, forgiving those who wrong you, and being grateful for what you have.

Cindy on behalf of Kiss the Book, review by Sarah, 9th grader – I really liked the amount of details the book gave even in simple motion and actions along with the big actions. I felt that the book had no forward momentum, however. I felt like even though the story was moving forward it was stuck in place which just made it hard for me to want to read it. I also didn’t enjoy how much description of a girl’s menstrual cycle there was. There wasn’t anything graphic, but I also think it didn’t need as much detail and they added to explain what it is.


Jo the Book Girl @ Goodreads – The story is fresh and sensitive, written in diary-style. 12-year-old Tuva’s questions about becoming a teenager are confusing as it happens to all preteens. It’s especially confusing for Tuva as her first crush turns out to be on another girl. Fir Tuva, it feels absolutely wonderful, but why does it become so complicated? Dåsnes Has written a realistic coming-of-age graphic diary where Tuva is caught between feeling like a kid and wanting to know how to be a teenager.

Tamara @ Bookish Things – I really liked the format is set up to be mostly like a diary that Tuva doodles in. You get misspellings and hearts and things like that. That part was really colorful because Tuva is a young girl who likes sparkles and stuff. The art that wasn’t part of the diary was also really cute.

This book is a great little story that will help tweens navigate the weird split between the groups that want to be seen as “grown ups” and the groups that want to stay kids for a little bit longer, while also trying to figure out who you might like or even who you might be as a separate entity from your friends. That can always be a struggle in the best of times.