The IN be-TWEEN | #CYBILS2023 Reviews 02.07.2024

One week, friends! Just one more week until the 2023 CYBILS Awards winners are announced.

You probably already added the finalists and winners to your TBR, and that’s cool, but our judges read A LOT of great books that, while not award winners, will definitely be winners with young readers. Yes, even picky tween readers. x

See for yourself.

Book cover and summary excerpt from Goodreads. Click to see more details and reviews.



Jessica @ Cracking the Cover – Billed as The Parent Trap meets The HolidayThe House Swap is a sweet coming-of-age tale. The story is told from alternating points of view. Through Allie and Sage, readers not only get a sense of who the girls are but their varying cultures. Author Yvette Clark does an excellent job realizing their characters. The juxtaposition helps move the story forward and keeps the pacing strong. The House Swap is a heartwarming read that explores complicated family dynamics while remaining light.

Cindy @ Kiss the Book – A sweet book about finding friends in unexpected places. While not a stand-out must read for every student, certainly has plenty of charm.


Kristen @ GoodreadsMisfit Mansion definitely lived up to the hype I’ve seen from some other readers I’ve seen promoting this cute found family story about monsters who have been living together and one who wants to see what it is like in the human town nearby especially during the Harvest Festival. I absolutely loved the message of this book, the cute illustrations and the loving vibes throughout. Plus fall themes books are my fave so I was digging it so much with all the lovely colors! A must read!


Karen @ Goodreads – Oh, I want to reread this book regularly and use it as a coffee table book / conversation piece. Megan Clendenan (author) and Suharu Ogawa (illustrator) provide young readers an overview of city planning. Their examples span centuries and continents. I was very happy to see examples from Africa and from pre-Columbian Americas. So often China, India, Egypt (as the only African country) and Europe are overrepresented in overview books such as this. I learned a lot about Brasilia and Benin City (Eda) because they appeared at several points to illustrate concepts. It’s very educational! I could get lost in any one section for days by doing side reading on the internet.

Tiffany @ Goodreads – You can’t tell from the cover, but this book is definitely geared more toward upper elementary and middle school. Filled with photographs and informative illustrations – you can learn everything about city development and designing. I particularly love how this book includes valuable and relevant information from the past, present and looks to the future.


Linda @ Goodreads – Kate Fussner’s verse novel, her debut, feels as if many middle-grade readers will hold tight to the story as they live their own fears and triumphs, and learn that sometimes words can show both regret and love, and can help their growing up.


Deb @ The Book SearchDogtown is about a shelter for dogs who need homes.  People have brought their dogs to the shelter for a number of reasons.  Surprisingly, some of the dogs are robots and even the robots are looking for new homes. This is a story full of heart.  There are parts that are heartbreakingly poignant and parts that are laugh out loud funny.  This would be another wonderful read aloud to middle grade classes looking for opportunities to discuss big issues like the ethical treatment of animals, friendship and how someone might try to help a friend as well as thinking about writing techniques, like writing from multiple points of view and author’s voice.  I thought this one was great and I think the kids will like this one too.