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Staff Reviews: For Children

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books and DVDs for children! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates. The book reviews on this website represent the personal opinions of the individuals who created them and do not represent any official views of the Marathon County Public Library.


Cover: 'Bones of Faerie'

"Bones of Faerie" by Janni Lee Simner

★★★ Folklore and post-apocalyptic fiction collide in "Bones of Faerie," a young adult novel by Janni Lee Simner. Liza is a teenage girl who lives in a world greatly affected by a war that took place several years before she was born. This war was between the world as we know it and Faerie, a realm where magic is commonplace and nature supersedes technology...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Buddy Bench'

"The Buddy Bench" by Patty Brozo

★★★★★ Has there ever been a time where you have felt left out or forgotten in group activities, such as recess? This book focuses on that issue. For a variety of reasons, some of the kids at this school feel left out when it comes to recess. They watch as their classmates play with kites or throw a ball, having fun without them. The students who are watching just...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Hey Grandude!'

"Hey Grandude!" by Paul McCartney

★★★★★ On gray rainy days, don’t you wish you were exploring warm tropical beaches under the hot sun? Out on a trail ride with a real cowboy? Or instantly surrounded by snowcapped mountains, taking in the sights and sounds from on top of a hill of lush wildflowers? Well, good news! You can! That is, if you happen to have a Grandfather named “Grandude” and he...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'Fraidyzoo'

"Fraidyzoo" by Thyra Heder

★★★★★ Be prepared to giggle and laugh your way through Fraidyzoo by Thrya Heder. The lessons throughout the book are twofold, but the creative and playful illustrations are worth the read alone! Do you look forward to visiting the zoo and seeing all of the unique animals there? Some zoos have so many animals to see, it’s hard to take them all in. From...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'The Forever Garden'

"The Forever Garden" by Laurel Snyder

★★★★★ Have you ever kneeled down in the soil and planted a seed in a garden? When you stood up, were your knees covered in dirt? If so, you’ll fit right in reading about the friendship between a young curious girl named Laurel and her delightful neighbor Honey, who owns the house next door. In some ways Honey is continuously planting seeds throughout her garden,...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'Boxitects'

"Boxitects" by Kim Smith

★★★★ Meg loves to create and build, and boxes are her favorite medium. From tiny house to marvelous castles, she loves her self-appointed role as "Boxitect." Her mom is very proud of her skills and decides Meg should expand them by attending Maker School. There, she meets other kids who also love to create things out of various items such as blankets, tin-...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Girl and the Dinosaur'

"The Girl and the Dinosaur" by Hollie Hughes, Sarah Massini

★★★★★ Marianne is a focused little girl who follows her own interests and dreams, even though others can’t understand her passions. She spends her days painstakingly and patiently digging for dinosaur bones on a sandy beach. Her persistence finally pays off when she discovers a whole dinosaur skeleton! But the story does not end there. It takes a fantastic...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Nest That Wren Built'

"The Nest That Wren Built" by Randi Sonenshine, Anne Hunter

★★★★★ In imitation of the classic poem “The House That Jack Built” this book’s text begins: “These are the twigs, dried in the sun,/that papa collected one by one/to cradle the nest that Wren built.” The rhythmic tone continues in the text while on each page a different natural scene unfolds. More and more elements are added to the nest—even a snakeskin and...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Small Spaces'

"Small Spaces" by Katherine Arden

★★★★ After the recent loss of her mom, Ollie is just trying escape into a world of books. When she stumbles upon a woman trying to throw a book into the river, she rescues it and becomes entranced by what she soon discovers is a journal that spins quite the creepy tale. On a school field trip, the haunting pages of the journal suddenly seem only too real, and...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'The Dark Lord Clementine'

"The Dark Lord Clementine" by Sarah Jean Horwitz

★★★★ Being evil has never come naturally to Clementine, the daughter of the Dark Lord Elithor. Clementine, who prefers flowers and sunshine to darkness, wakes up one morning to find her father literally whittling away. Clementine needs to keep the family farm running, while her father locks himself away in his laboratory to find a cure for the curse put...

Audience: tweens | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'Saturday'

"Saturday" by Oge Mora

★★★★★ Today will be special. Today will be splendid. Today is Saturday! Ava's mother works Sunday through Friday, so their Saturdays together are precious. Saturdays are filled with fun activities the mother-daughter duo partake in together: story time at the library, visits to the salon, and picnics in the park. When Ava and her mother have a not-so-great...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Our House is on Fire'

"Our House is on Fire" by Jeanette Winter

★★★★★ After learning about climate change in school, Greta couldn't eat, sleep, or think about anything else. Like any good student, Greta decided to do some research. She saw polar ice caps melting, animals' habitats changing, and wildfires running rampant in documentaries and in scientific books. Greta realized the planet - our house - is on fire and that...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao'

"Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao" by Kat Zhang

★★★★★ Amy Wu is good at a lot of things, but one thing she is not good at is creating the perfect bao, a Chinese steamed bun her family loves to make and eat. Amy, along with her little white cat, are determined to master this difficult recipe. Amy helps her dad mix and knead the dough while her mom cooks the meat filling. Then, it is time to get to assemble...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'The Lions at Night'

"The Lions at Night" by Jessica M. Boehman

★★★★★ Take an adventure through New York City in this wordless picture book!  The famous sculpted lions outside of the New York Public Library, Patience and Fortitude, take an adventure one summer evening as they leave their usual post outside the NYPL. The lions ride the subway, visit Coney Island, and more. The black and white illustrations with pops of...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Christmas Wombat'

"Christmas Wombat" by Jackie, French

★★★★★ This book is a wonderful holiday read about a wombat who loves carrots, naps, and scratching. This love of carrots takes him on an adventure (a holiday adventure), though wombats don't celebrate holidays and have no concept of what Christmas or Santa is. The wombat finds himself face-to-face with reindeer (he names them strange creatures), who he battles...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Writers and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Authors and Their Animal Friends'

"Writers and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Authors and Their Animal Friends" by Kathleen Krull, Violet Lemay

★★★★★ Do you have a pet? What kinds of animals do you like? Have you ever given your pets names like Bambino, You Know, Catterina, Mooky, Littless Kitty, Friendless, or Colonel Eggbert? In this read you will learn about the pets and animals 20 famous authors loved! Author Kathleen Krull offers insight into the backgrounds of the authors from childhood to them...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Girl and the Wolf'

"The Girl and the Wolf" by Katherena Vermette

★★★★★ The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette is a wonderful retelling of the classic Red Riding Hood tale. With gorgeous illustrations and lyrical dialogue, Vermette walks you through the woods as a little girl who has wandered too far and finds herself alone and lost. A wolf comes upon her, and what follows is a twist on the original...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde'

"Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde" by Joyce Dunbar

★★★★★ Puss Jekyll is the perfect pet, cuddly and sweet, but she has a secret. At night she becomes Cat Hyde, mischievous hunter of small critters, not an ideal house pet. How can these two distinct personalities coexist in one furry cat body? Puss Jekyll lounges in the sun, warming her paws, while Cat Hyde prowls the streets wreaking havoc. What trouble will...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, read-alouds, picture book, animals

Cover: 'Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts'

"Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts" by Esta Spalding

★★★★★ Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts is a book you feel like you’ve dreamed up. Its realistic elements are: the four Fitzgerald-Trout children need to go to school, they need to eat, they need to do laundry and - most importantly - they need a better place to live. Its fantastical twist is: they have two terrible mothers and two (or three) awful fathers...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Boy Called Bat'

"A Boy Called Bat" by Elana K. Arnold

★★★★★ Nine year-old Bixby Alexander Tam - also known as Bat - loves animals, struggles to get along with his big sister, and also happens to be on the autism spectrum.  Author Elana K. Arnold allows us to experience Bat’s world first hand, and we find ourselves rooting for Bat as he cares for an orphaned baby skunk and learns to navigate his first friendship...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Guinea Dog'

"Guinea Dog" by Patrick Jennings

★★★★ Rufus really wants to get a dog but his father won't even consider it. Then his mom brings home a guinea pig. She runs, fetches, sits and even plays Frisbee! Rufus and Fido have a number of funny adventures. We have guinea pigs and I wish they were trained like Fido! This book is a great read-together bedtime story for kids and their...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Sad Little Fact'

"The Sad Little Fact" by Jonah Winter

★★★★★ This book allows its readers to meet the Sad Little Fact and many other little facts along the way. The Sad Little Fact lives in a world in which facts are dismissed and ultimately deemed "fake," then thrown away. The authorities of the world declare that lies are facts, and the world grows dark and dreary. However, hope is on the horizon as...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Invisible War'

"The Invisible War" by Ailsa Wild

★★★★ World War I was a time of great changes when it came to warfare - from mustard gas to the Browning Automatic Rifle, the way the world fought wars had changed. Unfortunately, medical science hadn't caught up with many of these changes. Soldiers suffered from debilitating wounds that often led to a slow, painful death or traumatic amputations. Many soldiers...

Audience: teens, tweens | Genre: graphic novel, nonfiction

Cover: 'The Cook and the King'

"The Cook and the King" by Julia Donaldson, David Roberts

★★★★ In this new fairy tale, a hungry king needs to find a cook. After trying many cooks and rejecting them all, he ends up with Wobbly Bob. The king then asks for his favorite dish—fish and chips—but Wobbly Bob is “terribly scared” about every aspect of food preparation. The king looks sympathetically on the shaking cook and helps him to prepare the meal....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon'

"The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon" by A.N. Kang

★★★★★ Papillon is so fluffy, he floats! Miss Tilly, his owner, worries that Papillon will float away. So, she tries to weigh him down with different foods, costumes, and hats. Papillon does not like to wear clothes (what cat does?) so this doesn't work. Miss Tilly leaves one day and Papillon follows his new friend, a red bird, out the window and into the world....

Audience: children | Genre: board book

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