Middle-Grade Monday | #CYBILS2023 Book Reviews 12.4.2023

Even if you haven’t yet seen this week’s books, you probably recognize the authors: Ben Hatke and Kelly Yang. Both are well-known and much-loved among the tween set for their stories of family, friendship, and resilience. FINALLY SEEN and THINGS IN THE BASEMENT are very different books. Yet, as our reviewers point out, young readers can see themselves and  gain empathy toward others in both stories.

Book covers link to Goodreads so you can put these on your TBR if interested.


Gina @ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers –  A heartfelt story that will speak to SO MANY, allow readers to both see themselves, and through the eyes of another, with a gentle touch, but with the crystal clear force of reality. go ahead. Grab your copy of this wonderful story, and just try to tell me you aren’t moved by it. Whether it’s Lina’s courage, Lao Lao’s shock at a boy being a friend, Millie’s contagious energy, or the amazing teachers that share their strength and knowledge… you can’t walk away from this one without feeling…FINALLY SEEN. ❤

Susan @ Blogging ‘Bout Books (on Goodreads) – The tale hits on plenty of important topics that should provoke lively discussions: immigration, bullying, organic farming, book banning, the pandemic, the importance of diverse books, what The American Dream really means, etc. In short, there are plenty of reasons to pick up this moving novel! There is enough conflict and tension in the story to keep things interesting. I found the tale engrossing enough to zip through it in one day. 

Jessica @ Cracking the Cover – When all seems lost, it’s a book that gives Lina hope. And it’s not just any book, it’s a graphic novel that’s images allow her to infer meanings. It opens doors to friendship and learning. Multiple plot lines intersect throughout Finally Seen, ranging from immigration and family to bullying and climate change. There’s a lot going on, but the elements play off each other, creating a cohesive read. Yang’s writing is warm and familiar. She captures Lina’s true essence, and captures readers’ hearts in the process.


Rachael @ Goodreads – This was such a fun, adorable middle grade graphic novel! There were so many layers – literally and figuratively – and it kept me guessing and turning the page. I loved the art work, and the idea of the humungous basement with sock rats. I loved the team work and bravery and friendship and family. I think this was such a fun book and I hope there is a sequel in the works!

VulpixBookPix @ Bookish Things (on Tumblr) – There’s lots of fun onomatopoeias in the panels that are great for a read aloud. The different layers of the basement may have little dialogue until the last half (or even last third) of the book, but the panels have lots of detail to explore as the reader travels with Milo. Then, the adventure picks up with added party members as well as enemies. I had a fun time reading it.