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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: 'Chu's First Day of School'

"Chu's First Day of School" by Neil Gaiman, Adam Rex

★★★★ Like many children, Chu is nervous about his first day of school. He has the usual concerns and questions; what will happen in school, will they like him. Once he gets there, he discovers that he has to introduce himself to the other children by saying his name and one thing that he loves to do. That’s when he becomes very quiet and is reluctant to share,...

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

Cover: 'My Teacher Is a Monster!'

"My Teacher Is a Monster!" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Author and illustrator Peter Brown gives us another humorous read-aloud with “My Teacher Is a MONSTER!”. Bobby has a familiar problem: a teacher, Ms. Kirby, who is the bane of his existence. She reminds him to follow school rules by saying things like “no recess for children who throw paper airplanes in class”. In short, he thinks she is a monster.  ...

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

Cover: 'A Horse Called Hero'

"A Horse Called Hero" by Sam Angus

★★★★ It’s wartime and London is no longer safe so Dodo and Wolfie, along with many other children, are forced to go and live with a family in the country. Their mother is dead and their father is off fighting in the war.  Wolfie, who has dreamed of owning a horse, finds an abandoned, orphaned silver foal who is near death, names him Hero, and nurses him...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses'

"Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses" by Kimberly Dean, James Dean

★★★★★ Cool-cat Pete the Cat is back with his laid-back personality and going-with-the-flow mantra. Pete wakes up grumpy one morning and cannot seem to be happy. Pete's friend Grumpy Toad gives him a pair of magic sunglasses that make Pete see the world in a new, more positive way. Pete helps out other friends who are feeling frustrated, mad and sad with his magic...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Castle Behind Thorns'

"The Castle Behind Thorns" by Merrie Haskell

★★★★★ Waking up in the fireplace ashes of an unfamiliar and very broken castle, Sand discovers that nothing lives here, except the huge, dense thorny brambles that enclose the whole exterior, making it impossible to leave. He begins mending broken objects and soon discovers Perrotte, a girl his age and heir to the castle who has awakened from the dead. They...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Goodnight Darth Vader'

"Goodnight Darth Vader" by Jeffrey Brown

★★★ Darth Vader is trying to put his twins Luke and Leia to sleep but they have the usual questions and demands of most kids at bedtime. He tells them rhyming stories about droids, wookies, Han Solo, Boba Fett and other familiar Star Wars characters. While this is not great literature, this cute book will be devoured by Star Wars fans, old and young alike, who...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, science fiction

Cover: 'Ferry Tail'

"Ferry Tail" by Katharine Kenah

★★★★ Walter, the ferry dog loves his perfect job. He greets ferry-goers, fetches the captain’s morning newspaper, tastes the cook’s food, watches babies and barks at seagulls. The captain’s cat is the only one aboard he does not like. One day he doesn’t feel needed and decides to leave and try life on the island. This sweet, simple picture book will appeal to...

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

Cover: 'The Girl with the Silver Eyes'

"The Girl with the Silver Eyes" by Willo Davis Roberts

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Katie Welker knows that she’s different in more ways than just having those unusual silver eyes which freak other people out. She can move things just by thinking about them and read the minds of cats, but what else might she be capable of.  After she discovers that her mother took a drug while she was pregnant that was later removed from...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Lizzy Bennet's Diary'

"Lizzy Bennet's Diary" by

★★★★★ Inspired by Jane Austen’s classic novel, “Pride and Prejudice”, we can easily believe that Elizabeth Bennet just might have written this diary.  It is a fun re-imagining of Lizzy Bennet’s world through her eyes with realistic journal entries and cute drawings and captions filling each page. But it’s the realistic invitations, notes, and letters glued...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, classics

Cover: 'Little Green Peas'

"Little Green Peas" by Keith Baker

★★★★ The peas from the alphabet sensation LMNO Peas have returned for a new adventure exploring color. From green gardens to purple mountains to the red colors of fall, the peas see color everywhere. This book is recommended for toddlers and preschoolers who will gain color knowledge and letter knowledge from the vibrant, fun illustrations.  

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader

Cover: 'A Dog Called Homeless'

"A Dog Called Homeless" by Sarah Lean

★★★★★ A year after her mother’s death, Cally sees her mother at the cemetery but no one will believe her. Worse yet, no one wants her to talk about her mother. She continues to see her mother often along with a friendly wolfhound and an elderly homeless man. She volunteers to not talk for a day at school to help raise money for a children’s hospice home and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'In New York'

"In New York" by Marc Brown

★★★★★ Learn about New York City, the beloved home to the author and illustrator of this book! This is a great book for elementary school aged children, who will learn facts about New York's history to the present day. Of course all of the landmarks are beautifully depicted through the artwork and illustrations of this book. You definitely get the feeling that the...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'A Walk in Paris'

"A Walk in Paris" by Salvatore Rubbino

★★★★ Accompany a girl and her grandfather on their walk through Paris! All of the splendor of the most well known landmarks of the city are visited and portrayed in a sight-seeing tour. The beautiful illustrations and simple story make for a wonderful journey for any young reader. In addition to the story, there are fun facts about Paris on every page for the...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, travel

Cover: 'The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing'

"The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing" by Sheila Turnage

★★★★ The Desperado Detectives are back! This time, Mo and Dale set out to uncover a ghostly mystery: the murder of Nellie Blake and her haunting of the Tupelo Inn. When Miss Lana accidently purchases the inn at an auction, Mo wants her to turn it into a successful business. But who would want to visit the haunted inn with Nellie creating havoc? This is a great...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Lion and the Bird'

"The Lion and the Bird" by Marianne Dubuc

★★★★ Lion kindly helps a bird who is cold and wounded and provides a warm place for the winter. They have a lovely time together, but when spring comes and bird's flock returns, he has to join them. This heart-touching universal tale about friendship, love and the ties that bind us is wonderfully told, and simply, but beautifully, illustrated. Preschoolers,...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Three Times Lucky'

"Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage

★★★★★ Mo LoBeau got lucky when she was a baby; she survived a hurricane her mother left her in and wound up in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. Orphaned, Mo made her own family with the Colonel, a quirky man with amnesia who found her after the hurricane, and Miss Lana, an eccentric café hostess. Mo helps out at the café with her best friend Dale, attends the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Hope Is A Ferris Wheel'

"Hope Is A Ferris Wheel" by Robin Herrera

★★★★ Star Mackie has every reason in the world to give up. She lives with her mother and sister Winter in a pinkish trailer with a plastic flamingo glued to the top. She has never met her father or even received a card from him. She starts an Emily Dickinson Poetry Club to meet friends in her new school. In her weeks of assigned vocabulary sentences (which she...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nightingale's Nest'

"Nightingale's Nest" by Nikki Loftin

★★★★★ The music he heard was like nothing he had ever heard before; it was like magic. Twelve-year-old John Fischer is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business when he meets a foster child, Gayle, the bird-like girl with the beautiful voice of a nightingale. When they become friends he discovers that her singing helps heal his body...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Real Boy'

"The Real Boy" by Anne Ursu

★★★★★ The massive walls around the protected island city of Asteri writhe with enchantment.  The wizards’ powerful magic protects the city from illness and harm.  A devastating worldwide plague many years ago killed numerous people from the island. “The boy”, Oscar, works as a lowly “Hand” for Caleb, the most powerful magician in the city. His job is to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Nest'

"Nest" by Jorey Hurley

★★★★★ Robins arrive in the spring, prepare a nest, raise their young throughout the seasons in this beautifully illustrated picture book that is perfect for sharing. With only one word on each page it reads like a poem. The pictures lend themselves to adult-child conversation beyond the words.    

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Winter of the Robots'

"The Winter of the Robots" by Kurtis Scaletta

★★★★★ It’s science fair time but Jim’s best friend Oliver always wants to build robots so he chooses a girl partner named Rocky.   He “borrows” cameras from his father’s security business and places them in a hidden junkyard in an attempt to study otters for their project.  They don’t find any otters, but discover strange noises and movement coming from...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, action adventure

Cover: 'Get Into Art People'

"Get Into Art People" by Susie Brooks

★★★★★ Get Into Art People features twelve famous artists with distinct styles. Each section includes a full page reproduction of the artist’s work with information about the artist and his/her technique. The genius here is a fold out page with an accompanying project that incorporates the artist’s work. The book ends with a glossary and materials list. The book...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction, art

Cover: 'Journey'

"Journey" by Aaron Becker

★★★★★ In this wordless story a lonely girl with a red piece of chalk draws herself into another world. On her journey she finds adventure, peril and ultimately friendship. Although readers will think of "Harold and the Purple Crayon," this is a much more engaging story.  The illustrations are rich and full of color and detail. People of all ages will be...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, caldecott award winner

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