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Staff Reviews: Children's fiction

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: '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

Cover: 'The Sad Little Fact'

"The Sad Little Fact" by Jonah Winter

★★★★★ This book allows its readers to meet the Sad Little Fact and many other little facts along the way. The Sad Little Fact lives in a world in which facts are dismissed and ultimately deemed "fake," then thrown away. The authorities of the world declare that lies are facts, and the world grows dark and dreary. However, hope is on the horizon as...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Cook and the King'

"The Cook and the King" by Julia Donaldson, David Roberts

★★★★ In this new fairy tale, a hungry king needs to find a cook. After trying many cooks and rejecting them all, he ends up with Wobbly Bob. The king then asks for his favorite dish—fish and chips—but Wobbly Bob is “terribly scared” about every aspect of food preparation. The king looks sympathetically on the shaking cook and helps him to prepare the meal....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Dress and the Girl'

"The Dress and the Girl" by Camille Andros

★★★★★ There is a little girl who wears a dress. The dress and the girl experience a lot together, like playing and exploring, until one day they travel to a new country together to find a better life. The dress and the girl get unexpectedly separated when getting off of the boat in their new county; the dress in a trunk and the girl moving on in her...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Remember Balloons'

"The Remember Balloons" by Jessie Oliveros

★★★★★ James is a little boy whose memories are represented by balloons, as are Grandpa's memories.  James loves talking to Grandpa and sharing balloons.  But one day, Grandpa doesn't have as many balloons, and his favorite balloon, the silver balloon is floating above his head.  James questions why the balloons are floating away.  This is such...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Snow Lane'

"Snow Lane" by Josie Angelini

★★★★ Annie Bianchi is a fifth-grader with dyslexia. This disability makes life difficult for her in many ways. She struggles to read and dress herself. She is teased when she smiles and laughs for no apparent reason. Annie has a habit of counting things and arranging numbers into organized groups. It is a coping mechanism for when she doesn’t know how to handle...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Wish Upon a Sleepover'

"Wish Upon a Sleepover" by Suzanne Selfors

★★★★★ Leliani has only one friend, Autumn, and the popular group of Haileys at school look like they would be fun friends, so she decides to plan a sleepover and invite them. However, with her confused grandmother helping with the party, the kids on the “Do Not Invite” list get invited instead of kids on the  “Do Invite” list. So now she’s stuck with the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Third Mushroom'

"The Third Mushroom" by Jennifer L. Holm

★★★★★ Ellie and her grandfather have become better friends since last year when her grandfather turned himself young again through a science experiment and attended Ellie’s middle school. In this sequel to The Fourteenth Goldfish, crusty teenage scientist (with two PhDs) Melvin Sagarsky returns. Having her grandfather around has encouraged in Ellie a love for...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Saving Winslow'

"Saving Winslow" by Sharon Creech

★★★★★ When his father brings home a sickly, half-dead baby donkey in the middle of winter, Louie, who has not had luck keeping things alive like goldfish, worms and bugs, is determined to do whatever it takes to save it.  Suffering the loss of his brother, Gus, who recently joined the army, having a baby donkey to love helps soothe Louie's lonely heart and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'City of Islands'

"City of Islands" by Kali Wallace

★★★★ Orphaned as a child, twelve-year-old Mara works as a servant for the powerful Lady of the Tides by diving into the murky sea for ancient artifacts supposedly containing residual magic from the magical Founders who built their beautiful city thousands of years ago. While diving with her friend Izzy, Mara begins hearing songs reminiscent of the songs her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Are You Scared, Darth Vader?'

"Are You Scared, Darth Vader?" by Adam Rex

★★★★★ Is Darth Vader scared of anything?  This fun children's book asks just this question!  Darth Vader is asked about many Halloween-related characters, such as; vampires, ghosts, witches, wolfmen, and children.  Kids will love this Halloween-themed Darth Vader story as he interacts with all of these creatures for the first time. The...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Running Through Sprinklers'

"Running Through Sprinklers" by Michelle Kim

★★★★ Sara and Nadine have always had each other, since forever, or at least since they were small and both living on the same cul-de-sac, literally minutes away from each other. That is, until everything changed. It was seventh grade and they were both supposed to be starting together as they always did, until Nadine suddenly announces, almost right before...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)'

"She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)" by Ann Hood

★★★★★ Trudy Mixer feels like she has lost control of her young life. She has been ostracized by her classmates ever since the new substitute teacher called her by her real name—Gertrude—and her best friend has left her for the future cheerleaders group. Practically the most important job of her life is running The Robert E. Quinn Junior High Beatles Fan Club (the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nightbooks'

"Nightbooks" by J. A. White

★★★★ Alex loves scary stories, the scarier the better. His favorite movie is Night of the Living Dead,  so when he sneaks out of his parent’s high-rise apartment, he is naturally drawn to an odd level apartment where he hears the movie playing. However, when Natacha invites him in, he discovers that there appears to be no way to escape. The apartment is...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker'

"The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker" by Matilda Woods

★★★★★ Alberto never really thought much about his life, but he certainly never would have imagined that his wife and children would all die of a sickness plaguing their beautiful town that left a purple mark on their necks. A master carpenter, he could not bear having them thrown into the sea as other deceased victims were, so he made wooden coffins and buried...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost'

"Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

★★★★ Nine-year–old Roxie loves her quirky, Uncle Dangerfoot,  so when he arrives from London and she discovers that she is going to go on vacation with him,  and her BFF Norman can come along, she is ecstatic. However, when they arrive at their destination, Windswept House near the ocean, they discover that the Hooligans—Helvetica, Simon, Freddy and...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Just Under the Clouds'

"Just Under the Clouds" by Melissa Sarno

★★★★★ Cora lives in Brooklyn and loves to climb trees. She was taught by the best, her father. Now with her father gone, her family is struggling and basically homeless, shuttling from one unsafe shelter to another. A middle schooler, Cora is responsible for looking after her younger sister, Adare, while her mother works. Adare is “special:" she was deprived of...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The  Truth As Told by Mason Buttle'

"The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle" by Leslie Connor

★★★★★ Mason Buttle appears to have almost all the cards stacked against him. He’s taller and bigger than all the other kids in his seventh grade class. He sweats profusely, so much so that he brings another shirt to school with him every day to change into later in the day.  He has trouble with words, writing them and reading them. He lives in a ramshackle...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Prim Improper'

"Prim Improper" by Deirdre Sullivan

★★★★★ Meet Primrose “Prim” Leary, the quirky and charming 13-year-old star of Deirdre Sullivan’s Prim Improper.  Prim is coping with the sudden loss of her mother, and you might expect a story like this to be dark and brooding, but Prim tells her tale (in diary form) with a precocious and wittily observant voice that delves into sensitive – and even...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Wild Robot Escapes'

"The Wild Robot Escapes" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Author Peter Brown left us with hints of impending doom for our robot friend, Roz and her family, near the end of the previous book, The Wild Robot. At the very least we were fairly certain that changes were ahead for the characters we, (okay I), had grown to love, and of course these play out in this sequel. Roz has been brought to the mainland and is...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Bob'

"Bob" by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead

★★★★★ Bob’s been waiting for Livy for five, very long boring years at her grandmother’s house, exactly as she told him to do. When Livy finally returns to her grandmother’s house in Australia to stay for a while, she strangely remembers nothing about ever being at her grandmother’s house before, yet it feels like she has forgotten something very important. Then...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

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