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.


'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

'The War I Finally Won' by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

"The War I Finally Won" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

★★★★★ Continuing eleven-year-old Ada's story from “The War That Saved My Life,” this book begins with hospitalization and surgical correction for Ada’s clubfoot, which she has mixed feelings about especially since it is funded by stern Lady Thornton. The external (and Ada's internal) war rages on, changing their lives in many ways, taking the life of their "Mam"...

Audience: Children | 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

'Home Alone' by Jason Rekulak

"Home Alone" by Jason Rekulak

★★★★★ Home Alone is a classic holiday film that's widely loved and appreciated. It's a film that pops up like clockwork every December and never gets old, no matter how many times you watch it (at least in my experience!) If you and your kids are fans of Home Alone as much as I am, you can now experience the film in the form of an eye-catching illustrated...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Holiday, Movies, Movie Tie-ins

'The Song From Somewhere Else' by A.F. Harrold

"The Song From Somewhere Else" by A.F. Harrold

★★★★★ If it hadn’t been for the disappearance of Quintilius Minimus, her cat, Francesca’s (Frank’s) unlikely friendship with Nick Underbridge, the unusually tall, awkward, different, smelly boy from school, would probably have never happened. And if the other boys from her school weren't taunting and bullying her while she was at the playground posting posters...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'Wishtree' by Katherine Applegate

"Wishtree" by Katherine Applegate

★★★★ Red, the unusual narrator of this story, has heard practically everything from the generations of people that have visited him and shared their hopes, dreams and definitely lots of wishes. But still he stays silent, until one day when Samar and Stephen, two very lonely children from two very different families wish for a friend, he has to find a way to...

Audience: Children | 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

'Tumble & Blue' by Cassie Beasley

"Tumble & Blue" by Cassie Beasley

★★★★★ Dumped on the porch of his grandmother’s house in the middle of nowheresville by his father (who supposedly is working some things out), Blue Montgomery feels even more cursed. The whole Montgomery family is the victim of a curse originated many generations ago, supposedly by an ancestor's encounter with a legendary golden alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp...

Audience: Children | 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 Apprentice Witch' by James Nicol

"The Apprentice Witch" by James Nicol

★★★★★ Sneaking out of her grandmother’s house early in the morning, young Arianwyn Gribble believes she is ready to become a full-fledged witch and take the Civil Witchcraft Authority’s evaluation and receive an assignment to serve her community. But then she loses her focus during the exam, the evaluation gauge supposedly malfunctions, and she is disappointingly...

Audience: Children | 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

'Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt' by Ben Clanton

"Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt" by Ben Clanton

★★★★★ In the second book of this graphic novel series, Narwhal and Jelly decide to become super heroes! But, you can’t just become a super hero. One needs a super cool outfit, a super cool name, and most importantly, a super cool super power. Narwhal tries to be invisible, but it doesn't work. He tries to be super strong, and even tries to fly (under the sea...

Audience: Children | Genre: Graphic Novels

'Forever, or a Long, Long Time' by Caela Carter

"Forever, or a Long, Long Time" by Caela Carter

★★★★★ How can Flora ever believe in forever? After being shuttled from foster home to foster home longer than she or her brother Julian can even remember, how can she trust her new mother (who she calls Person because there have been way too many mothers) after they are adopted and promised a forever home. Carrying scars from their past, Flora has trouble getting...

Audience: Children | 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

'Beyond the Bright Blue Sea' by Lauren Wolk

"Beyond the Bright Blue Sea" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Home for twelve-year-old Crow, as far as she has ever known, is desolate Elizabeth Island, Massachusetts, with Osh who found her as a baby adrift in a boat at sea, and Miss Maggie, the kind neighbor who lives across the sandbar.  Crow is happy with her life, but she yearns to know where she came from and who her parents are. After witnessing a fire on...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story' by Mary Downing Hahn

"One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story" by Mary Downing Hahn

★★★★★ Shy, timid, Annie Browne probably would have had a hard time making new friends anyway, but arriving as the new girl at the finest school in the city makes it even more intimidating. Unfortunately, just as she arrives, a friendless, unlikable girl at school, Elsie Schneider, grabs her for her friend. Trouble is, Elsie wants exclusive rights to Annie and she...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'The Great Treehouse War' by Lisa Graff

"The Great Treehouse War" by Lisa Graff

★★★★★ If Winnie’s parents weren't acting so obsessively strange, and so hung up on spending exactly the same amount of time with her, the great treehouse war, as it was being called by the media, probably would not have happened.  When Winnie Malladi-Maradi’s  parents divorce and decide to share time with her equally,  they also decide that since...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction

'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

'I Love You, Michael Collins' by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

"I Love You, Michael Collins" by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

★★★★ With the impending historic walk on the moon, students in ten-year-old Mamie’s class are given the assignment to write to one of the U.S. astronauts on this mission. With all the other students picking Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, Mamie makes a split-second decision to pick Michael Collins, who will be staying with the ship. When school is out...

Audience: Children | Genre: Historical 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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