Marathon County Public Library

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Kids' Corner

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 Door By the Staircase' by Katherine Marsh, Kelly Murphy

"The Door By the Staircase" by Katherine Marsh, Kelly Murphy

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes is miserable. She is so miserable that she attempts an escape up the small, sooty stovepipe from the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies, where, as an older child, there’s literally no chance of getting adopted, especially when the head mistress dislikes you. So when an old woman with a big nose, Madame Z, shows up to adopt her, she’s...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

'The Girl in the Well Is Me' by Karen Rivers

"The Girl in the Well Is Me" by Karen Rivers

★★★★ Being the new kid in town, eleven-year-old Kammie Summer is perhaps just trying to impress the popular girls at her new school when she accepts their dare and ends up in a deep abandoned well. It’s wet, smelly, cold, dark and scary and it hurts being cramped in there with her arms and body wedged against the sides of the well. Where are her so called new "...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Realistic

'The Wild Robot' by Peter Brown

"The Wild Robot" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Roz’s life begins in a peculiar way. Washed ashore in a crate on what appears to be a deserted island, she is the lone intact survivor of a sunken cargo ship. Charged by the island sun and literally jolted to life when a sea otter reaches through her crate and accidentally pushes a button on the back of her head, Roz, a robot, opens her eyes and introduces...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'North Woods Girl' by Aimee Bissonette

"North Woods Girl" by Aimee Bissonette

★★★★★ In an age of computers, smartphones and tablets, it can sometimes be difficult to draw kids' attention away from such devices and get them outside. The young, unnamed protagonist in "North Woods Girl" eschews such technological temptations in favor of exploring the great outdoors with her rustic, nature-loving grandmother, who lives deep within the north...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Picture Book

'Maybe a Fox' by Kathi Appelt, Alison McGhee

"Maybe a Fox" by Kathi Appelt, Alison McGhee

★★★★★ On an ordinary wintry school day like so many others, while sisters twelve-year-old Sylvie and eleven-year-old Jules are waiting for the school bus, Sylvie runs into the woods and disappears. Why would she go? They were forbidden to go on this path leading to the Slip, a small geological formation in which the river bed disappears into an open cavern and...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land' by John Coy

"Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land" by John Coy

★★★★★ This beautiful, heart-warming children’s book gave me goosebumps. The photographs portray a multitude of immigrants who came to America from many different countries. In simple, almost lyrical text it imparts the great sacrifices that the previous generation made, not only to bring their family to a new country, but to survive and provide new opportunities...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle' by Janet Fox

"The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle" by Janet Fox

★★★★★ Amid warnings from the train stationmaster about Rookskill Castle in Scotland being peculiar, haunted, with grinding and screeching noises and rumors of kids disappearing, the Bateson children, Katherine (Kat), Robbie, Amelie, and Peter, an American boy, proceed to the castle anyway. Actually, what choice do they have? They’re kids who are sent to this...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

'The Land of Forgotten Girls' by Erin Entrada Kelly

"The Land of Forgotten Girls" by Erin Entrada Kelly

★★★★★ Living in the shadow of her sister Amelia’s ghost, and carefully trying not to destroy the spirit of her younger sister, ever-resourceful Soledad tries desperately to give her something to believe in, even though it may be untrue. Living in almost unbearable conditions in Louisiana with their new, evil stepmother after their father deserts them soon after...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Finding Winnie:  The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear' by Lindsay Mattick, Sophie Blackall

"Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear" by Lindsay Mattick, Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This is the heartwarming story of the real life "Winnie the Pooh." I really enjoyed how the author told the story in two parts and also included real journal entries and photographs from WWI. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian on his way to care for horses in World War I, happened upon a lost baby bear at a train station. For some reason,...

Audience: Children | Genre: Caldecott Award Winner, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Read-Alouds

'Withering-by-Sea' by Judith Rossell

"Withering-by-Sea" by Judith Rossell

★★★★★ Stella is an eleven-year-old orphan living with her three aunts in a boring, seaside mansion, the Hotel Majestic, where elderly people come to partake of the healthful waters. Her life suddenly becomes way too interesting when she witnesses a murder and finds herself on the run from the evil professor/magician Starke and his gang of men who desperately want...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Dogtag Summer' by Elizabeth Partridge

"Dogtag Summer" by Elizabeth Partridge

★★★★ Tracey (Tuyet) is “con lai”, half breed; she has been told that she has the face of the enemy. Half Vietnamese and half American, her father was an American soldier serving in Vietnam. Adopted by an American family in California, she is not sure where or how she fits in. With the help of her best friend Stargazer she begins searching. When they discover an...

Audience: Children, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'The Wrinkled Crown' by Anne Nesbet

"The Wrinkled Crown" by Anne Nesbet

★★★★ Linny’s twelfth birthday is fast approaching and she’s being watched and protected even more than usual, lest she fall victim to an ancient curse. She is forbidden to touch a lourka instrument, but the call of music and the lourka is so irresistible that she secretly builds one. When she is compelled to play it on the eve of her birthday, her best friend...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

'The Lightning Queen' by Laura Resau

"The Lightning Queen" by Laura Resau

★★★★★ Surprising, haunting, almost magical, this tween novel is unusual in that it spans generations. At the beginning of the story, eleven-year old Teo is suffering from the recent loss of his mother and sister Lucita on the Hill of Dust in Mexico, where hardly anything exciting ever happens. But when the gypsies roll in and he meets Esma, the self-proclaimed...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Rosemary Spell' by Virginia Zimmerman

"The Rosemary Spell" by Virginia Zimmerman

★★★★★ Books and words have always been important to Rosemary and her best friend Adam, so when they discover an extremely old book in a locked cabinet in her father’s old study, they are excited beyond words. Is it perhaps a secret, magical, ancient book? Did it once belong to Shakespeare or perhaps to Constance Brooke, an elderly poet suffering from Alzheimer’s...

Audience: Children, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Paper Wishes' by Lois Sepahban

"Paper Wishes" by Lois Sepahban

★★★★ Ten-year-old Manami lives a carefree life combing Bainbridge Island, Washington with her beloved grandfather and dog Yujiin. But it’s 1942, and after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor they are forced by the U.S. government, along with other Japanese Americans, to live in a one room prison camp in the California desert. Worse yet, Yujiin is forced out of...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Pax' by Sara Pennypacker

"Pax" by Sara Pennypacker

★★★★★ Forced by his father to return his beloved pet fox, Pax, to the wild and move three hundred miles away to live with his grandfather, twelve-year old Peter is devastated. Still grieving his mother’s recent death, losing his father to the war effort (again) and being forced to give up Pax, his friend and soul-mate, is too much. Unconcerned with his own safety...

Audience: Children, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Rosie Revere, Engineer' by Andrea Beaty

"Rosie Revere, Engineer" by Andrea Beaty

★★★★★ Meet Rosie, the great-great-niece of the heroine Rosie the Riveter, who enjoys building different gadgets and gizmos. Rosie wants to become an engineer when she grows up! She is always trying to make new things, however when people laugh for joy at her inventions she mistakes that for people laughing at her inventions instead. Rosie wants to give up every...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Picture Book, Read-Alouds

'Connect the Stars' by Marisa de los Santos, David Teague

"Connect the Stars" by Marisa de los Santos, David Teague

★★★★ You could say that thirteen-year-old Audrey Alcott is obsessed with lying. She can’t help it. She instinctively knows when people are lying and it’s making her life so miserable that her parents send her to a six-week summer wilderness camp that promises attendees a “journey to confidence.” There she meets Aaron Archer, a kid with a brain like a walking...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Action Adventure

'Mother Bruce' by Ryan T. Higgins

"Mother Bruce" by Ryan T. Higgins

★★★★★ Bruce is a grumpy bear who lives alone and has one passion—eggs. He loves making fancy egg recipes that he finds on the Internet, but one day he gets a big surprise. Before he gets his goose eggs cooked, they hatch and call him “Mama.” He tries repeatedly to get rid of the goslings, even by being extra grumpy and roaring, but they won’t leave, not even when...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Picture Book

'Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids' by Jill Mills

"Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids" by Jill Mills

★★★★★ This book totally lives up to its name; it is adorable! There are some seriously cute ways to make snacks and meals for you and your family. Adults and kids will both enjoy the recipes in this fun filled cookbook. Adults, you’ll find lots of healthy recipes and treats that you can make with your kids or for them as a surprise. Kids, you will find cool...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Vincent Paints His House' by Tedd Arnold

"Vincent Paints His House" by Tedd Arnold

★★★★★ This book transports us to Vincent's house on the day he decides to paint it. This book pays homage to the artist himself, Vincent van Gogh. As Vincent begins painting his house he encounters various animals who also live on his house that have differing opinions as to which color to paint it. Not only are all the colors of the rainbow mentioned as options...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Picture Book, Read-Alouds

'What Is Punk?' by Eric Morse, Anny Yi

"What Is Punk?" by Eric Morse, Anny Yi

★★★★★ Did you grow up listening to Punk music and wish to share it with your kids or reminisce about it? "What Is Punk" covers the rise of the Punk movement, the various bands associated with it, and its fashion. Experience this book in all its glory as you learn all about the Ramones to The Slits to the Descendents in a fun story that rhymes and is illustrated...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Girl Who Could Not Dream' by Sarah Beth Durst

"The Girl Who Could Not Dream" by Sarah Beth Durst

★★★★ Imagine catching dreams, distilling them, pouring them into bottles and selling them to people searching for certain types of dreams. This is what Sophie’s parents do somewhat secretly in the lower level of their bookstore. Sophie, however, is not allowed to dream because when she does her dreams become real. Her octopus-like pet, Monster, came into her...

Audience: Children, Teens | Genre: Fiction, Action Adventure

'You Can't See the Elephants' by Susan Kreller, Elizabeth Gaffney

"You Can't See the Elephants" by Susan Kreller, Elizabeth Gaffney

★★★★★ Since her mother died, her grief-stricken father has been sending thirteen-year-old Mascha to her grandparent’s house for the summer in Clinton, a small town where nothing exciting ever happens. She wanders around town with her earbuds in, lonely and bored, until she meets Julia and Max who are the only kids who seem to want to talk to her. As she gets to...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'A Nearer Moon' by Melanie Crowder

"A Nearer Moon" by Melanie Crowder

★★★★ Luna and Willow live in a village where houses are raised on stilts. They have heard stories about creatures living under the water and the time before the river had a dam, when the clean water flowed freely, and the mucky, slick swamp didn’t exist. When Luna and Willow venture out in their flat boat, and Luna ignores her mother’s silly rules and goes below...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

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