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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: 'Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math'

"Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math" by Jeannine Atkins

★★★★★ Jeannine Atkins has another excellent book to follow Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science. The women she focuses on this time include Katherine Johnson and Vera Rubin. Each poem is a small moment in the girls’ lives. I especially love the last lines of so many of the poems. They feel hopeful and end on an upward note. “She charts what’s known in...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: historical fiction, poetry

Cover: 'Little Wise Wolf'

"Little Wise Wolf" by Gijs van der Hammen, Hanneke Siemensma, Laura Watkinson

★★★★★ This is a beautiful story with a gentle lesson about friendship and learning. One day, Little Wise Wolf, who is deeply ensconced in his books and research, receives a summons from the king. He sets off on a long journey to the other side of the mountains, perhaps not as prepared as he should be. The hard day’s journey makes him lose confidence in his...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Those Darn Squirrels Fly South'

"Those Darn Squirrels Fly South" by Adam Rubin

★★★★★ Those Darn Squirrels Fly South is the third book in the children’s series of Those Darn Squirrels. In this delightful children’s book we once again find Mr. Fookwire feeling grumpy and lonely as his beloved birds fly south for the winter. He would normally have the neighborhood squirrels to keep him company but they have decided to follow the...

Audience: children | Genre: children's picture book, fiction

Cover: 'Allergic'

"Allergic" by Megan Wagner Lloyd, Michelle Mee Nutter

★★★★ Allergic is a sweet, funny story about friendship and pets. Maggie has always wanted a pet and her parents have agreed that she can have a puppy, even with their fourth child on the way. But imagine Maggie’s disappointment when she finds out that she is severely allergic to anything with fur or feathers! She bravely tries out a fish, reptiles, and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré'

"Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré" by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar

★★★★★ This was a really impactful story about the life of Pura Belpré, author, puppeteer, and librarian from Puerto Rico. Not only was this a story about the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York, this is a heartwarming story about the impact librarians have on their community. I really enjoyed learning about the life of Pura Belpré, and appreciated the...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Alone Together: A Tale of Friendship and Hope'

"Alone Together: A Tale of Friendship and Hope" by Julia Seal

★★★★ In this timely picture book, two young children face the initial challenges and loneliness of quarantine that people all over the world have experienced this past year. Once the children realize they can still communicate, just in a fun new way, they don't feel so alone. I found this heartwarming and hopeful picture book to be a great resource and...

Audience: adults, children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'A Tale of Witchcraft'

"A Tale of Witchcraft" by Chris Colfer

★★★★★ The magical community has been accepted in the kingdoms. The faeries have been helping around the kingdoms and the people celebrate when they arrive! Now, a secret clan has resurfaced after centuries of silence called the Righteous Brotherhood. The Righteous Brotherhood has vowed to exterminate all magical life and Brystal is their first target. Meanwhile,...

Audience: tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Tea Time Around the World'

"Tea Time Around the World" by Denyse Waissbluth

★★★★★ Take a trip around the world with tea! This traditional, yet diverse beverage can be warm or cold, sweet or tart. Did you know that tea can also contain yak butter or tapioca bubbles? Tea can also steep in a samovar and be prepared as an entertaining show!  Learn about tea in various cultures with the poetic rhythm of a...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson'

"On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson" by Jennifer Berne, Becca Stadtlander

★★★★★ Beautifully illustrated with just the right amount of text to a page, this picture book biography is great to share with young poets. It tells how Emily lived a secluded life enjoying her family, close friends, and the natural world. In books and in her mind she experienced much that she described in her poems. Though she published few in her lifetime, her...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Ickabog'

"The Ickabog" by J.K. Rowling

★★★★ Fairy tales are often great because of the fantastical places they transport the reader to. Everyday people live among kings and queens, horse-drawn carriages and castles, and otherworldly creatures that make up a world unlike our own. "The Ickabog" is no exception, and also features a plot and life lessons that are very much relevant to our own lives....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Outside, Inside'

"Outside, Inside" by LeUyen Pham

★★★★★ The cover of this picture book immediately caught my eye when I saw a beautiful illustration of a girl and a black cat peering out of a window. The hearts hanging in the window and the title alluded to it being set in the current pandemic, and I'm so glad I picked up this picture book from our new releases section.  This is a really wonderful...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'If You Want a Friend in Washington'

"If You Want a Friend in Washington" by Erin McGill

★★★★ Explore a wackier side of life in the White House in this fun and entertaining book about presidential pets!  The President of the United States has a lot of responsibility and has to make hard decisions. Citizens and fellow politicians might agree, or disagree with these decisions, making friends hard to come by. Many presidents hoped for...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice'

"Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice" by Mahogany L. Browne, Theodore Taylor III, Elizabeth Acevedo, Olivia Gatwood

★★★★★ This is an absolutely beautiful collection of thought-provoking poems by an amazing collection of talented poets that tackles topics from discrimination to immigration to intersectionality to privilege ("What's in my Toolbox" and "A Me-Shaped Box" are both must reads on the topic of privilege and stereotypes). It is a beautifully illustrated reflection on...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Those Darn Squirrels!'

"Those Darn Squirrels!" by Adam Rubin

★★★★★ This is a very cute and relatable children’s book that tells the story of a grumpy and sometimes lonely old man. Mr. Fookwire has interactions with the neighborhood squirrels as they attempt to stock up their winter food supply from his birdfeeders.  The only thing Mr. Fookwire likes is painting pictures of the birds that visit his yard, but those darn...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'The Willoughbys'

"The Willoughbys" by Lois Lowry

★★★★★ The four children in the Willoughby family are indeed to be pitied. Their parents "frequently forgot that they had children and became quite irritable when they were reminded of it." This left Tim, Barnaby A, Barnaby B (they're twins), and Jane feeling they'd be better off as orphans, of the old-fashioned kind. So they hatch a "perfectly despicable plot" to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: fiction

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