Marathon County Public Library

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Kids' Corner

Staff Reviews: For Children

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of fiction and nonfiction for children! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) These book reviews also are published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


'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 Goldfish Boy' by Lisa Thompson

"The Goldfish Boy" by Lisa Thompson

★★★★★ Matthew Corbin is the “Goldfish Boy;" at least that’s what his cul-de-sac neighbors call him. In the safety of the upstairs window in his room, he watches and records his neighbors' comings and goings. Between that and all the compulsive hand and body washing, obsessing about germs and his supply of plastic gloves, and feeling responsible for his baby...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Ugly' by Robert Hoge

"Ugly" by Robert Hoge

★★★★ Growing up fairly normal-looking is difficult enough, but when you are, well, ugly, it is almost unimaginable. Born with a tennis ball-shaped tumor in the middle of his face instead of a nose, and with short twisted, mangled legs, Robert Hoge was not the sort of baby mothers rush to take home. As a matter of fact, his mother didn’t. After knowing the facts...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction

'Scar Island' by Dan Gemeinhart

"Scar Island" by Dan Gemeinhart

★★★★★ No one wants to end up on Scar Island, no one. Believing his crime to be so terrible, Jonathan Grimsby feels he deserves whatever punishment or bad treatment he is given at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys on this tiny, stony, awful spot in the black sea. Finding a crew of would-be gnarly pirates as the adults in charge, life is constant...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'My Happy Life' by Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson, Julia Marshall

"My Happy Life" by Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson, Julia Marshall

★★★★★ This book opens as Dani tries to fall asleep by counting all the times in her life she has been happy. Along with those happy times, she remembers some not so happy. Her mother died when she was very young and she lives with her father. Then, in her first year of school, her best friend moves away! But Dani stays positive. Lagercrantz excellently captures...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Race the Night' by Kirsten Hubbard

"Race the Night" by Kirsten Hubbard

★★★★★ Has the world really ended? Is there really only pollution, drought and this desert ranch and a few chosen special kids and teachers left? Twelve-year-old Eider has nagging doubts and is plagued by memories of another world with her sister in it. At night she takes forbidden exploratory trips beyond the closely monitored fence and collects prohibitive...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Train I Ride' by Paul Mosier

"Train I Ride" by Paul Mosier

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Ryder is a wounded, but resourceful girl without a home, who is worried about her dwindling pool of relatives and looming foster care. This time she’s being sent from California by train to a relative in Chicago she doesn’t know. She was living with an uncaring grandmother after her drug-addicted mother could no longer care for her. On her...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Beautiful Blue World' by Suzanne LaFleur

"Beautiful Blue World" by Suzanne LaFleur

★★★★ Even though Sofarende, where twelve-year-old Mathilde lives, is at war, and there are bombings and sirens and constant food shortages, she is content. After all, she has her family and her best friend Megs by her side.  But when the army offers money and safety to families whose children help in the war effort under very strict rules and secrecy, Megs...

Audience: Children | 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

'Wolf Hollow' by Lauren Wolk

"Wolf Hollow" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Turning twelve years old is not always the milestone that separates a person’s life between childhood and adulthood, but in the aftermath of the wars, it’s what happened to Annabelle. Her quiet, comfortable small town life is quickly changed by a nasty girl, Betty Glengary, the new girl in school who chooses to bully Annabelle. A reclusive World War I...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Before Morning' by Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes

"Before Morning" by Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes

★★★★★ In this beautiful picture book it really is all about the stunning muted scratch-board art by Caldecott award-winning artist Beth Krommes. Spare lyrical text by Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman almost sings to us as we get lost in intricate pictures displaying a beautiful overnight snowfall which slowly transforms the morning into a beautiful world of...

Audience: Children | 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

'Lucy Rescued' by Harriet Ziefert

"Lucy Rescued" by Harriet Ziefert

Lucy, a small white dog, is adopted from an animal shelter just in time. But adjusting to her new home and family is tough on her and her new family.  Lucy can’t seem to stop howling; she howls all day and night. In this sweet, simply but beautifully illustrated story, we follow Lucy and her family on their journey to love, understanding and acceptance...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Pets

'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...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

'Breaking Stalin's Nose' by Eugene Yelchin

"Breaking Stalin's Nose" by Eugene Yelchin

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Sasha Zaichik has prepared to become a member of the Soviet Young Pioneers since he was 6 years old.  Just as he is almost ready to realize his dream, his world and his family seemingly collapse, as he discovers that everything that he believed growing up in the Communist Soviet Union was a lie.   This simply-told but powerful...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Newbery Award Winner, Award-Winning

'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

'Foxheart' by Claire Legrand

"Foxheart" by Claire Legrand

★★★★★ Quicksilver is not your ordinary heroine. Left on the steps of Saint Martta’s convent when she was three-years-old, presumably nameless, with an unusual mane of gray hair, she is continuously taunted with names like pig and witch. Saved by a kind yellow dog she names Fox, who becomes her partner, she steals in order to survive in the dangerous Star Lands...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'A Most Magical Girl' by Karen Foxlee

"A Most Magical Girl" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Suddenly thrust by her mother into the care of two unknown aunts who have an old, dusty magic shop full of broomsticks, wands, and magic potions, Annabel Grey is more than a little confused. Raised in Victorian England as a prim and proper young lady with a beautiful wardrobe and set of manners, this is nothing like the life she has known. While she is...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'The Littlest Bigfoot' by Jennifer Weiner

"The Littlest Bigfoot" by Jennifer Weiner

★★★★★ Off to her eighth boarding school, this one an Experimental Center in the woods proclaiming to respect everyone’s uniqueness, twelve-year-old Alice Mayfair knows instinctively that this new school will still be like all the others. Teased and bullied at her previous seven schools about “the Mane,” her big, wild, uncontrollable hair, her large body, her...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

'Secret of Dreadwillow Carse' by Brian Farrey

"Secret of Dreadwillow Carse" by Brian Farrey

★★★★ Two lives, a twelve-year-old princess named Jeniah and a peasant girl named Aon, are both deeply affected by Dreadwillow Carse, a dark, foreboding bog in the center of Emberfell that is said to hold all the community’s sadness. In preparation for her new role as queen, Jeniah learns that if monarchs dare enter Dreadwillow Carse their monarchy is doomed. Aon...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Nanette's Baguette' by Mo Willems

"Nanette's Baguette" by Mo Willems

★★★★★ Nanette loves warm and wonderful baguettes. And today she gets the responsibility of going to the bakery by herself, without her mom. Nanette is set. Then, Nanette meets a pet. Does Nanette forget the baguette and become upset? Find out in this fun, tongue-twisting tale by the beloved author/illustrator Mo Willems. Willems' illustrations...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Valiant' by Sarah Mc Guire

"Valiant" by Sarah Mc Guire

★★★★★ After her mother’s death, Saville’s father, who is a tailor more in love with his precious material than his family, moves them to a small, gloomy, dirty shop in the city of Reggen. Soon after, her father suffers what appears to be a massive stroke, leaving him bedridden and Saville with the responsibility for his care as well as their livelihood. Despising...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fantasy

'The Executioner's Daughter' by Jane Hardstaff

"The Executioner's Daughter" by Jane Hardstaff

★★★★ Moss is the executioner’s daughter. That’s right; she lives in the Tower of London in England with her father who serves King Henry VIII, and lately they are way too busy with executions. Her job is to catch the severed heads in a basket after her father chops them off, a job she detests. She longs to escape and see more of the world beyond the castle...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'The Girl Who Drank the Moon' by Kelly Barnhill

"The Girl Who Drank the Moon" by Kelly Barnhill

★★★★★  Every year a newborn baby from the Protectorate is left in the nearby forest in an effort to appease the witch. Xan, the forest witch, doesn’t understand this tradition, but in order to rescue the infants she scoops them up and delivers them to adoptive families in the town on the other side of the forest.  When she rescues one special baby and...

Audience: Tweens | Genre: Fiction

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