MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation ATTENTION: (1) all MCPL locations open by appointment only; (2) curbside pickup is available: [Details.]

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: 'Bones of Faerie'

"Bones of Faerie" by Janni Lee Simner

★★★ Folklore and post-apocalyptic fiction collide in "Bones of Faerie," a young adult novel by Janni Lee Simner. Liza is a teenage girl who lives in a world greatly affected by a war that took place several years before she was born. This war was between the world as we know it and Faerie, a realm where magic is commonplace and nature supersedes technology...

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

Cover: 'I Don't Like Rain!'

"I Don't Like Rain!" by Sarah Dillard

★★★★★ Have you ever gotten caught outside in a rainstorm? Was it when you were walking home or when you were about to play with your friends? The Bunny in I Don’t Like the Rain! gets caught in a wet cold downpour just as he and his woodland friends were going to play with a found pine cone! At first he thinks the drip, drip, drops of water are fun; but being...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'InvestiGATORS'

"InvestiGATORS" by John Patrick Green

★★★★★ Dog Man lovers, rejoice! Here is your next graphic novel obsession about two alligator investigators known as the InvestiGATORS. Mango and Brash, the InvestiGATORS, receive an assignment to go incognito at Batter Down, the bakery owned by world-famous cupcake chef Gustavo Mustachio, who went missing two weeks ago. With mustaches and...

Audience: tweens | Genre: graphic novel

Cover: 'Happy Right Now'

"Happy Right Now" by Julie Berry

★★★★★ Everyone has a range of emotions that they go through on a daily basis. Sometimes, an event or an object triggers that emotion, and other times that person feels that emotion for no reason at all. Happy Right Now looks at what makes an individual happy and choosing to be happy. Chores and the "worry monkey" are things that don't typically make people...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Buddy Bench'

"The Buddy Bench" by Patty Brozo

★★★★★ Has there ever been a time where you have felt left out or forgotten in group activities, such as recess? This book focuses on that issue. For a variety of reasons, some of the kids at this school feel left out when it comes to recess. They watch as their classmates play with kites or throw a ball, having fun without them. The students who are watching just...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Home in the Woods'

"Home in the Woods" by Eliza Wheeler

★★★★★ Do you have a big family with lots of siblings? Growing up, Marvel did! She had seven siblings and her Mum. Who is Marvel? She’s the main character and also the grandmother of Eliza Wheeler, the author and illustrator of this book. This story was inspired by Marvel’s childhood experience of finding a new home with her family and learning together, how to...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'Hey Grandude!'

"Hey Grandude!" by Paul McCartney

★★★★★ On gray rainy days, don’t you wish you were exploring warm tropical beaches under the hot sun? Out on a trail ride with a real cowboy? Or instantly surrounded by snowcapped mountains, taking in the sights and sounds from on top of a hill of lush wildflowers? Well, good news! You can! That is, if you happen to have a Grandfather named “Grandude” and he...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'Fraidyzoo'

"Fraidyzoo" by Thyra Heder

★★★★★ Be prepared to giggle and laugh your way through Fraidyzoo by Thrya Heder. The lessons throughout the book are twofold, but the creative and playful illustrations are worth the read alone! Do you look forward to visiting the zoo and seeing all of the unique animals there? Some zoos have so many animals to see, it’s hard to take them all in. From...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'The Forever Garden'

"The Forever Garden" by Laurel Snyder

★★★★★ Have you ever kneeled down in the soil and planted a seed in a garden? When you stood up, were your knees covered in dirt? If so, you’ll fit right in reading about the friendship between a young curious girl named Laurel and her delightful neighbor Honey, who owns the house next door. In some ways Honey is continuously planting seeds throughout her garden,...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'Boxitects'

"Boxitects" by Kim Smith

★★★★ Meg loves to create and build, and boxes are her favorite medium. From tiny house to marvelous castles, she loves her self-appointed role as "Boxitect." Her mom is very proud of her skills and decides Meg should expand them by attending Maker School. There, she meets other kids who also love to create things out of various items such as blankets, tin-...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Girl and the Dinosaur'

"The Girl and the Dinosaur" by Hollie Hughes, Sarah Massini

★★★★★ Marianne is a focused little girl who follows her own interests and dreams, even though others can’t understand her passions. She spends her days painstakingly and patiently digging for dinosaur bones on a sandy beach. Her persistence finally pays off when she discovers a whole dinosaur skeleton! But the story does not end there. It takes a fantastic...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Nest That Wren Built'

"The Nest That Wren Built" by Randi Sonenshine, Anne Hunter

★★★★★ In imitation of the classic poem “The House That Jack Built” this book’s text begins: “These are the twigs, dried in the sun,/that papa collected one by one/to cradle the nest that Wren built.” The rhythmic tone continues in the text while on each page a different natural scene unfolds. More and more elements are added to the nest—even a snakeskin and...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Small Spaces'

"Small Spaces" by Katherine Arden

★★★★ After the recent loss of her mom, Ollie is just trying escape into a world of books. When she stumbles upon a woman trying to throw a book into the river, she rescues it and becomes entranced by what she soon discovers is a journal that spins quite the creepy tale. On a school field trip, the haunting pages of the journal suddenly seem only too real, and...

Audience: children | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'The Dark Lord Clementine'

"The Dark Lord Clementine" by Sarah Jean Horwitz

★★★★ Being evil has never come naturally to Clementine, the daughter of the Dark Lord Elithor. Clementine, who prefers flowers and sunshine to darkness, wakes up one morning to find her father literally whittling away. Clementine needs to keep the family farm running, while her father locks himself away in his laboratory to find a cure for the curse put...

Audience: tweens | Genre: juvenile fiction

Cover: 'Saturday'

"Saturday" by Oge Mora

★★★★★ Today will be special. Today will be splendid. Today is Saturday! Ava's mother works Sunday through Friday, so their Saturdays together are precious. Saturdays are filled with fun activities the mother-daughter duo partake in together: story time at the library, visits to the salon, and picnics in the park. When Ava and her mother have a not-so-great...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Our House is on Fire'

"Our House is on Fire" by Jeanette Winter

★★★★★ After learning about climate change in school, Greta couldn't eat, sleep, or think about anything else. Like any good student, Greta decided to do some research. She saw polar ice caps melting, animals' habitats changing, and wildfires running rampant in documentaries and in scientific books. Greta realized the planet - our house - is on fire and that...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao'

"Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao" by Kat Zhang

★★★★★ Amy Wu is good at a lot of things, but one thing she is not good at is creating the perfect bao, a Chinese steamed bun her family loves to make and eat. Amy, along with her little white cat, are determined to master this difficult recipe. Amy helps her dad mix and knead the dough while her mom cooks the meat filling. Then, it is time to get to assemble...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'The Lions at Night'

"The Lions at Night" by Jessica M. Boehman

★★★★★ Take an adventure through New York City in this wordless picture book!  The famous sculpted lions outside of the New York Public Library, Patience and Fortitude, take an adventure one summer evening as they leave their usual post outside the NYPL. The lions ride the subway, visit Coney Island, and more. The black and white illustrations with pops of...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Christmas Wombat'

"Christmas Wombat" by Jackie, French

★★★★★ This book is a wonderful holiday read about a wombat who loves carrots, naps, and scratching. This love of carrots takes him on an adventure (a holiday adventure), though wombats don't celebrate holidays and have no concept of what Christmas or Santa is. The wombat finds himself face-to-face with reindeer (he names them strange creatures), who he battles...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Writers and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Authors and Their Animal Friends'

"Writers and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Authors and Their Animal Friends" by Kathleen Krull, Violet Lemay

★★★★★ Do you have a pet? What kinds of animals do you like? Have you ever given your pets names like Bambino, You Know, Catterina, Mooky, Littless Kitty, Friendless, or Colonel Eggbert? In this read you will learn about the pets and animals 20 famous authors loved! Author Kathleen Krull offers insight into the backgrounds of the authors from childhood to them...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Girl and the Wolf'

"The Girl and the Wolf" by Katherena Vermette

★★★★★ The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette is a wonderful retelling of the classic Red Riding Hood tale. With gorgeous illustrations and lyrical dialogue, Vermette walks you through the woods as a little girl who has wandered too far and finds herself alone and lost. A wolf comes upon her, and what follows is a twist on the original...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde'

"Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde" by Joyce Dunbar

★★★★★ Puss Jekyll is the perfect pet, cuddly and sweet, but she has a secret. At night she becomes Cat Hyde, mischievous hunter of small critters, not an ideal house pet. How can these two distinct personalities coexist in one furry cat body? Puss Jekyll lounges in the sun, warming her paws, while Cat Hyde prowls the streets wreaking havoc. What trouble will...

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

Cover: 'Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts'

"Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts" by Esta Spalding

★★★★★ Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts is a book you feel like you’ve dreamed up. Its realistic elements are: the four Fitzgerald-Trout children need to go to school, they need to eat, they need to do laundry and - most importantly - they need a better place to live. Its fantastical twist is: they have two terrible mothers and two (or three) awful fathers...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Boy Called Bat'

"A Boy Called Bat" by Elana K. Arnold

★★★★★ Nine year-old Bixby Alexander Tam - also known as Bat - loves animals, struggles to get along with his big sister, and also happens to be on the autism spectrum.  Author Elana K. Arnold allows us to experience Bat’s world first hand, and we find ourselves rooting for Bat as he cares for an orphaned baby skunk and learns to navigate his first friendship...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Guinea Dog'

"Guinea Dog" by Patrick Jennings

★★★★ Rufus really wants to get a dog but his father won't even consider it. Then his mom brings home a guinea pig. She runs, fetches, sits and even plays Frisbee! Rufus and Fido have a number of funny adventures. We have guinea pigs and I wish they were trained like Fido! This book is a great read-together bedtime story for kids and their...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Pages