The Green Ember, by S.D. Smith, was nominated for the Cybils by Sherry at Semicolon, who found it very popular at her library and among the homeschoolers she knows, and it's definitely one I'd recommend to fans of Redwall.
Heather and her brother Picket have a happy, peaceful life, in which the sad tales of the fall of the good king are simply stories, until the day their family is brutally attacked by the enemies of their kingdom. Fortunately, two strangers come to their aid, one of whom turns out to be the uncle they never knew they had. Their uncle takes them to a place of refuge, where arts and crafts are cultivated in the hopes that a new king will arise, and usher in a new era of peace.
Heather is happy to join in the community, though many of its residents seem strangle unwelcoming, and it is clear that there are many secrets, but Picket is bitter and sullen, until he forces himself into an apprentice with a mysterious and tremendously skilled fighter. The skills he learns come in all too handy when treachery threatens to destroy any hope of restoring the good king's heir, and all the secrets are revealed....and Heather too has her part to play in the frantic race to salvage hope.
So it's a pretty solid kids saving the day type fantasy story, with a twist--these kids are rabbits. Rabbits who make stained glass windows and do embroidery, who wear clothes, and who are referred to as having 'hands," which of course are much better than paws when it comes to arts and crafts. And this was something of a deal breaker for me. If you are going to make your characters rabbits, pitted against wolves and hawks, that's fine, but please, make there be some other point to the rabbitness! Powerful kicking action comes into play at times, but otherwise there isn't anything rabbit about these characters way of being in the world. And this fretted at me, keeping me from fully enjoying what is a fine "kids discovering their place in an epic saga" type story. But if you have a young reader of nine or so who enjoys animal fantasies, and who really loves desperate hope, bolstered by sword play, this might be just the ticket.
disclaimer: review copy received for Cybils Award consideration