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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; follow us for the latest updates.

'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 Novels

'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

'Bubble'  by  Stewart Foster

"Bubble" by Stewart Foster

★★★★★ Being poked and monitored continuously and stuck inside an almost 100 percent air quality hospital room in London, all day, every day, is not the life any eleven-year old-boy would want.  Born with a rare immunodeficiency disease, this has had to be Joe’s life for as long as he can remember. All he wants is a normal life in the outside world with his...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Genevieve's War'  by  Patricia Reilly Giff

"Genevieve's War" by Patricia Reilly Giff

★★★★★ Spending the summer of 1939 working on her grandmother Meme’s farm in Alsace, France, thirteen-year-old Genevieve (Gen), an American, yearns to get back to her aunt’s house in New York. With rumors of the Germans invading Alsace and another world war starting she gets her chance to return. Yet when Gen notices her grandmother is injured, she makes a...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'See You in the Cosmos'  by  Jack Cheng

"See You in the Cosmos" by Jack Cheng

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski records his daily life on a golden iPod while building a rocket (Voyager 3) with hopes of launching his iPod into space to communicate with aliens about life on Earth. With his dog, Carl Sagan, he heads to the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival with dreams of a successful launch. His father is dead, his brother Ronnie...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'As Brave As You'  by  Jason Reynolds

"As Brave As You" by Jason Reynolds

★★★★★ Eleven-year-old Genie is nervous to be spending a whole month of his summer vacation (with his older brother, Ernie, Jr.) at his paternal grandparents’ house. Not only is this Brooklyn native unprepared for life in the country (no cell signal or internet?!), it’s the first time his family has seen his grandparents in ten years, and there’s a lot of...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Love,Ish'  by  Karen Rivers

"Love,Ish" by Karen Rivers

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Miscah “Ish” Love is a smart, self-aware, young girl with big dreams. She wants to be one of the first people to live on Mars. Together with Tig, her BFF (Best Friend Forever), they researched and planned everything together, even applied online, but now Tig is DTM, Dead To Me (her), because he moved away and she hasn't heard from him....

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Secret Horses of Briar Hill'  by  Megan Shepherd

"The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" by Megan Shepherd

★★★★★ Emmaline May lives at Briar Hill, a makeshift hospital in a home that a princess used to live in. She was sent there instead of to a family living in the country during the war because she has the “stillwaters” (tuberculosis). She has a secret that she keeps from almost everyone; only she can see winged horses living in the hospital's mirrors. Entering the...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Nine Open Arms'  by  Benny Lindelauf

"Nine Open Arms" by Benny Lindelauf

★★★★★ “Is it true that some stories only just manage to be born? Or do these stories always seek their own path into the world, and do they always, eventually, find a way of being told?” What first attracted me to this book was the cover art—a brick house on a deserted road with no front door, combined inside the jacket with a mysterious bed in a field and a...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'No Such Thing As Dragons'  by  Philip Reeve

"No Such Thing As Dragons" by Philip Reeve

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Ansel, a mute boy, is sold by his father to Brock, a self-proclaimed dragon slayer who needs someone who will keep his secrets safe. They travel town to town on horseback searching for food and shelter in exchange for protecting villagers from dragons. In Drachenberg, his master accepts a quest to climb the steep mountain and rid the village...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

'Furthermore'  by  Tahereh Mafi

"Furthermore" by Tahereh Mafi

★★★★★ Ferenwood is a community of sharp, bright colors, predictable, common magic, and adventure. Unfortunately Alice Alexis Queensmeadow doesn’t quite fit in. She’s stark white except for her ginger colored eyes, she doesn’t appear to be very good at magic, and her hopes for an adventurous life have been smashed by the disastrous results from her Surrender...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction