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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: '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

Cover: 'Hope in the Holler'

"Hope in the Holler" by Lisa Lewis Tyre

★★★★★ Wavie’s mom had a plan for her after her impending death from cancer, but ending up in in Conly Hollow, her family’s Appalachian home, was never intended to be a part of it. But when her alleged aunt shows up after her mom’s death and takes her there to live, she has no choice. What Waivie gets is a filthy home with garbage strewn everywhere, in a dirt-poor...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Hello Lighthouse'

"Hello Lighthouse" by Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This beautifully illustrated children's picture book traces the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in a lighthouse on a very tiny island in the middle of the sea. We see the keeper doing his daily chores such as polishing the lamp’s lens, filling the oil and trimming the wick to keep the lighthouse lamp lit. We experience the birth of their...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Witch Boy'

"The Witch Boy" by Molly Knox Ostertag

★★★★★ Aster wants to learn how to be a witch, but the men in his family are supposed to be shapeshifters and warriors. Aster doesn't care about those things; he just wants to learn witchcraft with the girls. He spies on them, jotting down notes and teaching himself spells. His mother warns him that what happened to his great uncle could happen to him, that his...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, identity

Cover: 'Dear Girl'

"Dear Girl" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal

★★★★★ Written like a letter from a mother to a daughter, this children's book is one of my new favorites. I would recommend anyone to read this to the young girls in their lives; daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends. This is the perfect story to give girls permission to be themselves, love themselves, and express themselves. The story is fun and...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Shadow Weaver'

"Shadow Weaver" by Mercy Kate Connolly

★★★★ Emmeline has never been alone. Ever since her best friend Dar, her shadow, spoke to her when she was a baby, she has always had her trusted best friend with her. With her unique gift, Emmeline is able to conjure up and weave shadows together whenever she desires. Her magical talent is threatened when it is discovered by Lady Aisling who threatens to take...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Granted'

"Granted" by John David Anderson

★★★★ Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets lives an idyllic sort of life in the Haven where all the fairies have a special job to do. She is a Granter. This means that it is her job to grant the wish of one human person from one of the twelve fallen leaves (wishes) of the over five million on the large Great Tree. Unfortunately, with less world magic available less wishes...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'I Am a Cat'

"I Am a Cat" by Galia Bernstein

★★★★★ What happens when Simon, a normal house cat, tells a group of big cats from around the world that he is just like them? They are stunned, and then laugh hysterically! Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, and Tiger each go on to tell Simon how they differ and how Simon is not "cat" enough. The lion has a mane and roars, Simon doesn't have a mane, nor can he...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book, fiction

Cover: 'The Sky at Our Feet'

"The Sky at Our Feet" by Nadia Hashimi

★★★★ When two men, who do not look like customers, start talking to his mother at work in New Jersey, Jason is terrified that his mother will be sent back to Afghanistan since she is not a U.S citizen. Remaining hidden he watches the frightening scene unfold, and when he finally sees his mother riding away with these men, he knows he has to flee and try to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Glass Town Game'

"The Glass Town Game" by Catherynne M. Valente

★★★★★ What happens when four children follow a man made entirely out of book and magazine pages onto a train headed for Glass Town? An adventure, of course! Only these aren’t just any children, they are the Brontës—Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—and the world they find themselves in is all their own creation. Glass Town and Gondal are at war, just like...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Oddity'

"Oddity" by Sarah Cannon

★★★★★ Any book that starts out with fifth graders defending themselves against leopards (again) during a safety drill promises to be fun.  Oddity is a small town that's...well...odd.  Except to Ada Roundtree and her friends and family who have spent their whole lives there.  When Ada's sister Pearl disappears after "winning" the town sweepstakes,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Goldeline'

"Goldeline" by Jimmy Cajoleas

★★★★★ Goldeline is called ghost girl because of her long, flowing white hair, making her a frightening distraction for the robbing bandits she helps in the magical Hinterlands, and who are the only "family" she has known since her momma was accused by the Preacher of being a witch and burned at the stake. However, during one of their jobs she discovers a young...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lucky Broken Girl'

"Lucky Broken Girl" by Ruth Behar

★★★★★ Ruthie Mizahi is the “lucky broken girl,” at least that’s what they call her after the multiple car accident in which she survived but several other people died. Being new in America from Cuba, she learned just enough English to graduate from the fifth grade "dumb class” at school, and just received her very own dream pair of go-go boots. Now she has to lie...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Just Like Jackie'

"Just Like Jackie" by Lindsey Stoddard

★★★★★ Robinson (Robbie) has finally had enough taunting from the fifth grade school bully, Alex, punches him in the nose, and ends up in the principal’s office with her grandfather. She knows her grandfather will be angry with her for not doing what Jackie Robinson, her namesake, would have done--nothing. She helps her grandfather in his auto repair shop, with...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial'

"E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" by Jim Thomas

★★★★ For fans of the classic 80’s movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, this timeless story is now in the form of a uniquely-illustrated children’s book! This book is a direct adaptation of the film and is aimed at young readers, with a few minor changes from the movie. The story tells the tale of young Elliot, who discovers what he thinks to be a goblin living...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, movies

Cover: 'Elizabeth and Zenobia'

"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

Cover: 'Orphan Island'

"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: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Stars Beneath Our Feet'

"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

Cover: 'The War I Finally Won'

"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

Cover: 'Whichwood'

"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

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