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Kids' Corner

Staff Reviews: For Tweens

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books and DVDs for tweens! (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.


'Just Under the Clouds'  by  Melissa Sarno

"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

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

"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

'Prim Improper'  by  Deirdre Sullivan

"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

'Bob'  by  Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead

"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

'Be Prepared'  by  Vera Brosgol

"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: Tweens | Genre: Graphic Novel

'The Witch Boy'  by  Molly Knox Ostertag

"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

'Shadow Weaver'  by  Mercy Kate Connolly

"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

'Granted'  by  John David Anderson

"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

'The Sky at Our Feet'  by  Nadia Hashimi

"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

'Oddity'  by  Sarah Cannon

"Oddity" by Sarah Cannon

★★★★★ Any book that starts out with fifth graders defending themselves against leopards (again) during a safety drill promises to be fun.  Oddity is a small town that's...well...odd.  Except to Ada Roundtree and her friends and family who have spent their whole lives there.  When Ada's sister Pearl disappears after "winning" the town sweepstakes,...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Tweens

'Goldeline'  by  Jimmy Cajoleas

"Goldeline" by Jimmy Cajoleas

★★★★★ Goldeline is called ghost girl because of her long, flowing white hair, making her a frightening distraction for the robbing bandits she helps in the magical Hinterlands, and who are the only "family" she has known since her momma was accused by the Preacher of being a witch and burned at the stake. However, during one of their jobs she discovers a young...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Lucky Broken Girl'  by  Ruth Behar

"Lucky Broken Girl" by Ruth Behar

★★★★★ Ruthie Mizahi is the “lucky broken girl,” at least that’s what they call her after the multiple car accident in which she survived but several other people died. Being new in America from Cuba, she learned just enough English to graduate from the fifth grade "dumb class” at school, and just received her very own dream pair of go-go boots. Now she has to lie...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Elizabeth and Zenobia'  by  Jessica Miller

"Elizabeth and Zenobia" by Jessica Miller

★★★★★ Elizabeth is not too happy about moving with her father to Witheringe Manor, her emotionally distant father’s creepy, spooky childhood home, but at least she has her best friend and fearless companion, Zenobia with her, even if her father thinks she is far too old for an imaginary friend. Zenobia believes there is a spirit presence in the house and...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Orphan Island'  by  Laurel Snyder

"Orphan Island" by Laurel Snyder

★★★★★ Jinny knows that the Changing will happen sometime soon, and her best friend, Deen, the eldest, will be whisked away in a self-propelled green boat and a new young child will be deposited to join the eight left on the island. Then Jinny will be the new "Eldest" and it will be her job to take care of and teach the brand new youngest child, Ess...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Stars Beneath Our Feet'  by  David Barclay Moore

"The Stars Beneath Our Feet" by David Barclay Moore

★★★★★ Building epic cities with large garbage bags full of LEGO blocks is how twelve-year-old Lolly channels his anger and his voice since the death of his older brother Jermaine, the only real person he could talk to. When his buildings outgrow his mother’s apartment (and her patience) he spends time hiding in a storage closet at the St. Nick community center...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Whichwood'  by  Tahereh Mafi

"Whichwood" by Tahereh Mafi

★★★★★ Since the death of her beloved mother and the disappearance of her heartbroken father, thirteen-year-old Laylee is the only remaining mordeshoor in Whichwood, and she is quite literally working her fingers to the bone. Her job is to wash the bodies and souls of dead people in the village, and with a bit of magic only people in her occupation possess, send...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Nest'  by  Kenneth Oppel

"The Nest" by Kenneth Oppel

★★★★ This tale is told from the perspective of Steven, a tween with OCD. His anxiety acts up again after the birth of his brother Theo, who his parents worry may have mental or other disabilities. I was immediately hooked by the creepy details which sounded like the makings for an episode of Doctor Who. Steven’s recurring nightmare is of a figure standing...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Girl with the Ghost Machine'  by  Lauren DeStefano

"The Girl with the Ghost Machine" by Lauren DeStefano

★★★★ Emmaline’s father misses her mother so much after her premature death that he builds a ghost machine to bring her back. But in the two years he spends tinkering with it night and day, it still won’t work properly. Emmaline, frustrated by the way the machine has consumed her father’s life, attempts to break the machine by pouring her cup of tea into it. Then...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'A House Without Mirrors'  by  Mårten Sandén, Karin Altenberg

"A House Without Mirrors" by Mårten Sandén, Karin Altenberg

★★★★ After the death of her baby brother, Thomasine is staying with her cousins at her Great Aunt Henrietta’s house. The curious thing is that there are no mirrors hanging anywhere in this sprawling old manor. Then Thomasine’s five-year-old cousin Signe, who hardly ever speaks, comes out from the wardrobe where the mirrors are all hidden away, suddenly...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Spirit Hunters'  by  Ellen Oh

"Spirit Hunters" by Ellen Oh

★★★★★ Harper Raine is sure that there is something really wrong with the old Gothic house that her family is moving into, beyond the repairs and renovations that her parents are making. She can sense it, and a neighborhood girl who becomes her friend confirms that it is rumored to be haunted. And then there’s Billy, a boy her four-year-old brother Michael...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming'  by  J. Anderson Coats

"The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming" by J. Anderson Coats

★★★★ Jane’s father was killed in the Civil War leaving her stern stepmother, brother and herself almost penniless. Like many other war widows and their families seeking new husbands and a prosperous life they board a ship to the west. Jane’s main job, since her father’s death and on the ship, is running after and caring for her little brother Jer. But she has...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'All's Faire in Middle School'  by  Victoria Jamieson

"All's Faire in Middle School" by Victoria Jamieson

★★★★★ From the author of Roller Girl comes another tale of middle school and what true friendship looks like. Imogene has been homeschooled her whole life to accommodate her family's involvement in a local Renaissance Faire. Imogene loves the Faire; she helps out in her mother's shop, and aspires to be a knight someday. Imogene decides to give middle school...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Graphic Novel

'Sputnik's Guide to Life On Earth'  by  Frank Cottrell Boyce

"Sputnik's Guide to Life On Earth" by Frank Cottrell Boyce

★★★★★ Sent to a live with a foster family in the country the summer after his grandad could no longer care for Prez or himself, the only thing Prez Mellows can focus on is finding and being together with his grandad again. Enter Sputnik, an alien, who appears to be a dog (with leather helmet and pilot goggles) to everyone except Prez, who declares that he has...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Moo'  by  Sharon Creech

"Moo" by Sharon Creech

★★★★★ Almost on a whim Reena, her little brother Luke, and her parents move to Maine. They trade the bustling, big city life for a quiet harbor town with hills and valleys where they’re free to bike, hike and pick blueberries. But when their parents suddenly ‘volunteer” them to help an eccentric elderly neighbor with her animals, they really don’t know what to...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Posted'  by  John David Anderson

"Posted" by John David Anderson

★★★★ Putting post-it-notes on, and in each other’s lockers seemed like a good way for Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench to communicate with each other after cell phones were banned at Branton Middle School, until suddenly it escalates into a whole school war, and some of the notes get nasty. In the middle of this mess, Rose, an odd, new girl at...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

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