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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: 'Saving Winslow'

"Saving Winslow" by Sharon Creech

★★★★★ When his father brings home a sickly, half-dead baby donkey in the middle of winter, Louie, who has not had luck keeping things alive like goldfish, worms and bugs, is determined to do whatever it takes to save it.  Suffering the loss of his brother, Gus, who recently joined the army, having a baby donkey to love helps soothe Louie's lonely heart and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'City of Islands'

"City of Islands" by Kali Wallace

★★★★ Orphaned as a child, twelve-year-old Mara works as a servant for the powerful Lady of the Tides by diving into the murky sea for ancient artifacts supposedly containing residual magic from the magical Founders who built their beautiful city thousands of years ago. While diving with her friend Izzy, Mara begins hearing songs reminiscent of the songs her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Are You Scared, Darth Vader?'

"Are You Scared, Darth Vader?" by Adam Rex

★★★★★ Is Darth Vader scared of anything?  This fun children's book asks just this question!  Darth Vader is asked about many Halloween-related characters, such as; vampires, ghosts, witches, wolfmen, and children.  Kids will love this Halloween-themed Darth Vader story as he interacts with all of these creatures for the first time. The...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Running Through Sprinklers'

"Running Through Sprinklers" by Michelle Kim

★★★★ Sara and Nadine have always had each other, since forever, or at least since they were small and both living on the same cul-de-sac, literally minutes away from each other. That is, until everything changed. It was seventh grade and they were both supposed to be starting together as they always did, until Nadine suddenly announces, almost right before...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)'

"She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)" by Ann Hood

★★★★★ Trudy Mixer feels like she has lost control of her young life. She has been ostracized by her classmates ever since the new substitute teacher called her by her real name—Gertrude—and her best friend has left her for the future cheerleaders group. Practically the most important job of her life is running The Robert E. Quinn Junior High Beatles Fan Club (the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nightbooks'

"Nightbooks" by J. A. White

★★★★ Alex loves scary stories, the scarier the better. His favorite movie is Night of the Living Dead,  so when he sneaks out of his parent’s high-rise apartment, he is naturally drawn to an odd level apartment where he hears the movie playing. However, when Natacha invites him in, he discovers that there appears to be no way to escape. The apartment is...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker'

"The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker" by Matilda Woods

★★★★★ Alberto never really thought much about his life, but he certainly never would have imagined that his wife and children would all die of a sickness plaguing their beautiful town that left a purple mark on their necks. A master carpenter, he could not bear having them thrown into the sea as other deceased victims were, so he made wooden coffins and buried...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost'

"Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

★★★★ Nine-year–old Roxie loves her quirky, Uncle Dangerfoot,  so when he arrives from London and she discovers that she is going to go on vacation with him,  and her BFF Norman can come along, she is ecstatic. However, when they arrive at their destination, Windswept House near the ocean, they discover that the Hooligans—Helvetica, Simon, Freddy and...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Just Under the Clouds'

"Just Under the Clouds" by Melissa Sarno

★★★★★ Cora lives in Brooklyn and loves to climb trees. She was taught by the best, her father. Now with her father gone, her family is struggling and basically homeless, shuttling from one unsafe shelter to another. A middle schooler, Cora is responsible for looking after her younger sister, Adare, while her mother works. Adare is “special:" she was deprived of...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The  Truth As Told by Mason Buttle'

"The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle" by Leslie Connor

★★★★★ Mason Buttle appears to have almost all the cards stacked against him. He’s taller and bigger than all the other kids in his seventh grade class. He sweats profusely, so much so that he brings another shirt to school with him every day to change into later in the day.  He has trouble with words, writing them and reading them. He lives in a ramshackle...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Prim Improper'

"Prim Improper" by Deirdre Sullivan

★★★★★ Meet Primrose “Prim” Leary, the quirky and charming 13-year-old star of Deirdre Sullivan’s Prim Improper.  Prim is coping with the sudden loss of her mother, and you might expect a story like this to be dark and brooding, but Prim tells her tale (in diary form) with a precocious and wittily observant voice that delves into sensitive – and even...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Wild Robot Escapes'

"The Wild Robot Escapes" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Author Peter Brown left us with hints of impending doom for our robot friend, Roz and her family, near the end of the previous book, The Wild Robot. At the very least we were fairly certain that changes were ahead for the characters we, (okay I), had grown to love, and of course these play out in this sequel. Roz has been brought to the mainland and is...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Bob'

"Bob" by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead

★★★★★ Bob’s been waiting for Livy for five, very long boring years at her grandmother’s house, exactly as she told him to do. When Livy finally returns to her grandmother’s house in Australia to stay for a while, she strangely remembers nothing about ever being at her grandmother’s house before, yet it feels like she has forgotten something very important. Then...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Hope in the Holler'

"Hope in the Holler" by Lisa Lewis Tyre

★★★★★ Wavie’s mom had a plan for her after her impending death from cancer, but ending up in in Conly Hollow, her family’s Appalachian home, was never intended to be a part of it. But when her alleged aunt shows up after her mom’s death and takes her there to live, she has no choice. What Waivie gets is a filthy home with garbage strewn everywhere, in a dirt-poor...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Be Prepared'

"Be Prepared" by Vera Brosgol

★★★★ Vera is ashamed of her Russian heritage in front of her American girlfriends. She just wants to be as American as they are with their perfectly planned birthday parties and summer camp culture. When she tries to imitate them and utterly fails, she turns to an alternative—Russian camp. At ORRA, maybe she will meet better friends who are like she is for...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: graphic novel

Cover: 'Hello Lighthouse'

"Hello Lighthouse" by Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This beautifully illustrated children's picture book traces the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in a lighthouse on a very tiny island in the middle of the sea. We see the keeper doing his daily chores such as polishing the lamp’s lens, filling the oil and trimming the wick to keep the lighthouse lamp lit. We experience the birth of their...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Witch Boy'

"The Witch Boy" by Molly Knox Ostertag

★★★★★ Aster wants to learn how to be a witch, but the men in his family are supposed to be shapeshifters and warriors. Aster doesn't care about those things; he just wants to learn witchcraft with the girls. He spies on them, jotting down notes and teaching himself spells. His mother warns him that what happened to his great uncle could happen to him, that his...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, identity

Cover: 'Dear Girl'

"Dear Girl" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal

★★★★★ Written like a letter from a mother to a daughter, this children's book is one of my new favorites. I would recommend anyone to read this to the young girls in their lives; daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends. This is the perfect story to give girls permission to be themselves, love themselves, and express themselves. The story is fun and...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Shadow Weaver'

"Shadow Weaver" by Mercy Kate Connolly

★★★★ Emmeline has never been alone. Ever since her best friend Dar, her shadow, spoke to her when she was a baby, she has always had her trusted best friend with her. With her unique gift, Emmeline is able to conjure up and weave shadows together whenever she desires. Her magical talent is threatened when it is discovered by Lady Aisling who threatens to take...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden'

"The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden" by Kevin DeYoung, Don Clark

★★★★ This brilliantly illustrated book covers the Bible’s central message in just 10 chapters using simple, casually styled language. It describes the Bible story of the snake crusher (that’s Jesus), defeating death forever so that we can live with God in the garden as the biggest story the world has ever known. DeYoung’s writing makes the Bible accessible to...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Granted'

"Granted" by John David Anderson

★★★★ Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets lives an idyllic sort of life in the Haven where all the fairies have a special job to do. She is a Granter. This means that it is her job to grant the wish of one human person from one of the twelve fallen leaves (wishes) of the over five million on the large Great Tree. Unfortunately, with less world magic available less wishes...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'I Am a Cat'

"I Am a Cat" by Galia Bernstein

★★★★★ What happens when Simon, a normal house cat, tells a group of big cats from around the world that he is just like them? They are stunned, and then laugh hysterically! Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, and Tiger each go on to tell Simon how they differ and how Simon is not "cat" enough. The lion has a mane and roars, Simon doesn't have a mane, nor can he...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book, fiction

Cover: 'The Sky at Our Feet'

"The Sky at Our Feet" by Nadia Hashimi

★★★★ When two men, who do not look like customers, start talking to his mother at work in New Jersey, Jason is terrified that his mother will be sent back to Afghanistan since she is not a U.S citizen. Remaining hidden he watches the frightening scene unfold, and when he finally sees his mother riding away with these men, he knows he has to flee and try to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dear Pope Francis'

"Dear Pope Francis" by Pope Francis

★★★★★ This book is a delightful and refreshingly candid look at Pope Francis and the children from around the world who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a letter and ask the leader of the Catholic Church any questions they wished. The questions they ask are honest, surprising, and ones that people of all ages would be interested in hearing his...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Glass Town Game'

"The Glass Town Game" by Catherynne M. Valente

★★★★★ What happens when four children follow a man made entirely out of book and magazine pages onto a train headed for Glass Town? An adventure, of course! Only these aren’t just any children, they are the Brontës—Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—and the world they find themselves in is all their own creation. Glass Town and Gondal are at war, just like...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

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