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Marathon County Public Library

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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: '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

Cover: 'Weird Insects'

"Weird Insects" by Michael Worek, Stephen Archer Marshall

★★★★★ Weird insects will amaze anyone remotely interested in insects. The book provides a magnifying glass look at insects from around the world. Each page is filled with a stunning and vibrant photo against a white page. Each page also lists insects’ common and scientific name as well as interesting facts about the insects’ characteristics and behavior. Budding...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, animals, nature

Cover: 'Spark'

"Spark" by Kallie George, Geneviève Côté

★★★★ Spark is a small, young dragon with a mighty flame.  In other words, he has problems controlling his flames.  He turns marshmallows to a crisp and cracks dishes while trying to dry them.  His family and friends encourage him and try to help him.   This is a cute first chapter book with engaging illustrations for beginning readers....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader

Cover: 'Did Romans Eat Chips?: And Other Questions About History'

"Did Romans Eat Chips?: And Other Questions About History" by Paul Mason

★★★★ What did athletes wear at the original Olympics? Which horse had a city named after him? Did Romans eat chips? Find out the answers to these crazy questions in Paul Mason's fun book about history. The book is filled with funny illustrations and asks questions about a wide range of historical events. The questions range geographically from South America to...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Rooftoppers'

"Rooftoppers" by Katherine Rundell

★★★★★ Charles, an eccentric, erudite bachelor with a heart full of love finds a baby floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel. He takes her home, names her Sophie, and notifies the proper authorities who reluctantly agree to let him keep her.  Charles and Sophie have a wonderful life together until she turns 12 when the National...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Building Our House'

"Building Our House" by Jonathan Bean

★★★★★ This cozy picture book shows the year-and-a-half long construction process involved in building a house, from moving into a trailer to live until the house is done, picking out the site, consulting the blueprints, digging the basement, raising the frame, and working in all types of weather.  Mom and Dad both work on the house while the children play...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Museum'

"The Museum" by Susan Verde, Peter H. Reynolds

★★★★★ A little girl takes a tour of a museum, and each work of art gives her a different feeling. The rhyming lines help to evoke the feelings each work of art is meant to express. Featuring colorful re-creations of works by Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Auguste Rodin, this book also serves to introduce your child to the work of great artists...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, art

Cover: 'Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy'

"Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Opehlia Jane Worthington-Whittard is an extraordinary 11 year old girl; she just doesn’t know it yet.  Accepting a last-minute job offer to curate a sword exhibit at a museum in a foreign city, Ophelia’s father believes that this is just the change of scenery his daughters need after the recent death of their mother.  The plan is for Ophelia and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Superworm'

"Superworm" by Julia Donaldson

★★★★★ “Hip, hip hooray for SUPERWORM”, repeatedly chant the animals and insects in the forest as their hero Superworm saves them from many disasters.   But in the midst of their happiness the evil wizard lizard captures Superworm with his servant crow and puts an evil spell on him, forcing him to find treasure in the soil.  Will his friends rescue him,...

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

Cover: 'A Tale of Two Castles'

"A Tale of Two Castles" by Gail Carson Levine

★★★★★ Twelve year old Elodie is forced to leave her family and her island home of Lahnt, to sail to the town of Two Castles and begin a new life.  Stuck in Two Castles without any money to immediately follow her dream of being an actor, she is transported into the lair of a brilliant dragon, Meenore, who offers to employ her as his paid assistant, even...

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

Cover: 'If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!'

"If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!" by Kim Norman

★★★★ Go on an adventure and find out all the fun things you can do in the snow! The book follows the rhythm of the children's song "If You're Happy and You Know It," so the book can be sung to the classic tune. Go skiing, sledding, and drink cocoa with a walrus, caribou, polar bear and other arctic creatures. Recommended for preschool children and families....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'First Big Book of the Ocean'

"First Big Book of the Ocean" by Catherine D. Hughes

★★★★★ Do you know what a leafy sea dragon is? Find out in this ocean-filled book put out by National Geographic Kids. This books is a great read for any school-aged child that is curious about biology or the ocean. Split up into ocean sections, each section details the animal life one will find in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic oceans. Each animal...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, animals, nature

Cover: 'What Does the Fox Say?'

"What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis

★★★★★ Dog goes woof and cat goes meow, but what does the fox say? If you loved the YouTube sensation "What Does the Fox Say?" you will love the children's picture book version! The book is filled with the zany lyrics to the popular song and kooky illustrations of the animals mentioned. Recommended for children and adults who are fans of the song, or anyone...

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

Cover: 'Santa Claus and The Three Bears'

"Santa Claus and The Three Bears" by Maria Modugno

★★★★★ The three bears weren't expecting company when they went for a walk on Christmas Eve. But who should appear but the merry old gentleman himself - Santa Claus! Santa tries out the Christmas pudding, the chairs and then the beds. Find out what happens when the three bears come home from their walk. Wonderful pictures and whimsical prose make for a lovely...

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

Cover: 'Handbook for Dragon Slayers'

"Handbook for Dragon Slayers" by Merrie Haskell

★★★★ 13-year-old Tilda is not your average fairytale princess. Born with a twisted foot, she knows that people in her kingdom don't respect her and she's bored with being a princess. Her boredom, however, comes to an abrupt halt when her evil cousin steals the throne. She is suddenly thrust into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure -- complete with magical horses --...

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

Cover: 'Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library'

"Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library" by Barb Rosenstock

★★★★★ Thomas Jefferson’s love of books and reading is wonderfully portrayed in this short children’s book.  Amusing illustrations of books on the roof of the White House, books used to spell out the word “BOOKS” on his fireplace mantle, and a picture of Jefferson being so engrossed in reading a book that they had to wait for him to sign the Declaration of...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, picture book, history

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