The IN be-TWEEN | #CYBILS2023 Reviews 01.30.2024


Summaries excerpted from Goodreads.
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Jessica @ Cracking the Cover – You might know Chad Morris and Shelly Brown from their previous collaborations. All are strong middle grade novels. I enjoyed them all. But The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry is my favorite. Juniper is a force to be reckoned with. She’s clever, resourceful, athletic and speaks her own mind. Morris and Brown have a comfortable writing style that’s easy to slip into, and they hit on emotional topics with an authenticity that can often be lost in a book like this. The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry is a quick-moving read with short chapters and engaging characters. This would make a great classroom read-aloud but it’s also perfectly lovely reading it on your own.


NextGen Librarian @ Goodreads – This was a great middle grade graphic novel that deals with lgbtq coming out experiences, as well as self-identity and learning who you are. Even though they attended middle school in 1991, this book is set in 2023 to make it more relatable to preteens. It’s great for fans of Varian Johnson’s Twins and Raina Telgemeier. It is also an awesome prequel to their adult memoir High School. The illustrations by @tilliewalden were amazing! CW: coming out themes, bullying

Jo @ Goodreads – I really love the art style of Tillie Walden done in water-color style, and the use of color for the different sisters helps show who is speaking. My only negative is that the writing felt a little all over the place at times where the storylines were a bit difficult to follow. All in all, I loved this for the illustrations, and the candid story of Tegan and Sara.


Gina @ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – This was a moving and powerful journey from today through yesteryear, as we follow the bloodlines back, and back again, reaching a part of history best learned from, but not forgotten. Reading the stories of the lives represented between these pages, and taking in the stunning imagery right along side, isn’t merely words and pictures, but an experience. It brings this branch of history to life in a way I can’t say I’ve seen or felt before, so much so that as the dots are connected through history you too experience in your own way the strength gained, the disappointment shed, and the stars aligning to make this moment worthy of the discoveries occurring. A unique collection that truly has a tale to tell for one family, but also for a people. It’s not just the story of one person, but a story that has roots shared by many, and no matter how hard it might be to look at at times, it needs to be seen, known, remembered, and learned from.

NextGen Librarian – Fans of Door of No Return will love this MG novel in verse by the mother-son team. This book will pair well when studying family genealogy, African Studies, and/or biographies or poetry. This probably won’t be a pleasure read for many kids, but it’s so important and I can see it being one you can tie to curriculum or pair with fiction and other nonfiction texts.


Hilary @ Goodreads – I’m not usually a huge fan of biographical anthologies, but I’d say that this one is the exception. I *really* got into these women’s complex and nuanced stories, and I think that middle grade readers will, too. The theme is women throughout history who used reading to fulfil their purpose and achieve their loftiest dreams. But the stories touch on so many amazing things, and the women selected are wonderfully diverse, traversing continents, time periods, and all sorts of professions. Reading is presented as something that can benefit everyone–those who struggle with it, those who embrace it, those who hide it, and those who profess it openly. Absolutely LOVED the epilogue. The backmatter is wonderful, too, providing reading and literacy resources and bite-size blurbs on each of the women featured in the book. I can’t NOT recommend this, because it’s wonderful!


Deb @ The Book Search – The cover is gorgeous. The story has a satisfying but not completely resolved ending, so I’m hoping there will be more! Abeni and Asha are both wonderful characters and I’d really love to read more of their adventures.  This story is set in Africa and one of the things I liked about this one a lot was a conversation about what had happened to the parents of the kids who escaped and what kept coming up was that the parents had been sent on ghost ships to a land faraway from which they would never return.  It doesn’t take a big leap to make that into how Africans were kidnapped from their homes and sent out on ghost ships to a land from which they would never return.  The folklore around that part of history is pretty sketchy so having a story to hang that historical context on awesome.  The fact that the story is told by kids and that the kids are not only the heroes, but the villains are also pretty amazing.  I really liked this story and I hope you’re going to like it too!