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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 Truth About Twinkie Pie'

"The Truth About Twinkie Pie" by The Truth About Twinkie Pie

★★★★★ 12-year–old Gigi lives with her sister Didi who is a hairstylist in a trailer park. When Didi wins one million dollars in a cooking contest she is able to help realize the big dreams she has for Gigi by moving to Long Island and enrolling her in an upscale high school. Gigi, who hates her name and asks the new kids at school to call her Leia, becomes...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Orion and the Dark'

"Orion and the Dark" by Emma Yarlett

★★★★★ This adorable picture book is about a little boy named Orion who is afraid of everything, especially the dark! He tries and tries to find ways to not be afraid but nothing works. One night, he decides to tell the dark to go away. When the dark slips through his window and invites him to have an adventure, Orion learns that he doesn't need to be afraid with...

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

Cover: 'Cat & Bunny'

"Cat & Bunny" by Mary Lundquist

★★★★★ This adorable book tells the story of Cat and Bunny, two of the very best of friends. Cat and Bunny are inseparable. That is until the day that they are playing in the park and the other kids ask to join their game. Bunny says yes but Cat doesn't want to share her friend. Cat storms off and ends up alone until she meets a kitten and starts a new game....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, picture book

Cover: 'I Love Dogs!'

"I Love Dogs!" by Sue Stainton

★★★★★ This rollicking book is filled with the exuberant joy of a boy who loves dogs. While spending the day at the park, the boy meets every type of dog imaginable. There are dogs that are spotty, dotty, wrinkly, crinkly... and many, many more! Will this little boy ever find the perfect dog for him? I highly recommend this book for all dog-loving kids!  

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

Cover: 'Pete the Cat and the New Guy'

"Pete the Cat and the New Guy" by Kimberly Dean, James Dean

★★★★★ Pete the Cat is easily one of my favorite children's book characters. In this story, Pete meets Gus the Platypus and tries to help him fit into his new neighborhood. When Gus has a hard time trying out everyone's favorite activities, Pete tries to cheer him up. What they learn is that Gus has a special talent that is unique to him that he can share with his...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, easy reader

Cover: 'Spots in a Box'

"Spots in a Box" by Helen Ward

★★★★★ This fun book is about a guinea fowl who doesn't have any spots. When he orders them in the mail, they arrive as something quite unexpected. As he explores the unexpected assortment of spots, he comes to realize that not all spots are created equal just like no two individuals are exactly alike. What he discovers is that it is more important to be happy...

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

Cover: 'Smick!'

"Smick!" by Doreen Cronin

★★★★★ This adorable book of few words is perfect to share with beginning readers and older kids too. Smick is irresistibly cute as he does what dogs do, chases, fetches, and looks huggable. Smick is happy when a stick shows up, but how will he react when a chick appears? Actions, rhymes, and wordplay make this a fun and quick read that will help kids discover the...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, easy reader

Cover: 'Goodnight Football'

"Goodnight Football" by Michael Dahl, Christina E. Forshay

★★★★★ This bedtime story will bring back sweet memories of football season. Told in rhyme, it follows a little boy as he attends a Friday night game with his family. From concessions, to the players, to the roar of the crowd, you'll remember why we love this game so much, and the satisfaction we feel as our team wins and we head home to snuggle into bed. This is...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, picture book

Cover: 'The League of Beastly Dreadfuls'

"The League of Beastly Dreadfuls" by Holly Grant

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Anastasia McCrumpet is snatched from her school library by two tiny “ancient” ladies claiming to be her great aunties; only she doesn’t have any great aunts. She is told that her parents have suffered an unfortunate vacuum cleaner accident. They take her, not to a hospital, but to a dreary Victorian home in the middle of nowhere that used to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, action adventure

Cover: 'Ms. Rapscott's Girls'

"Ms. Rapscott's Girls" by Elise Primavera

★★★★ There are a lot of extraordinary things about the Great Rapscott School for Girls. The students arrive by air in E-Z open tab boxes, they are hand-picked from homes where the girls' parents are so busy they scarcely notice they’re gone, the school is located in a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere, and the curriculum focuses on getting lost on purpose. The...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, action adventure

Cover: 'The Scavengers'

"The Scavengers" by Michael Perry

★★★★ Don't miss Wisconsin author Michael's Perry's foray into children's fiction, even if you are a grown up! This dystopian chapter book follows twelve-year-old Maggie, (who later renames herself Ford Falcon) her life living outside of the Bubble Cities, and her quest to find her parents after they mysteriously disappear. Despite the futuristic, sci-fi plot,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Moonpenny Island'

"Moonpenny Island" by Tricia Springstubb, Gilbert Ford

★★★★ The only eleven year-olds on the small island, Flor and her best friend and soulmate, Sylvie, share everything and lead an idyllic life. At the end of the summer, however, suddenly everything changes. Sylvie is mysteriously sent to the mainland to school, Flor’s mother disappears supposedly to take care of her mother, her sister Cecilia is harboring what...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story'

"Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story" by Mariam Gates, Sara Jane Hinder

★★★★★ You don't have to be a yogi to love this book. This pose-by-pose bedtime story takes children through gentle yoga poses and focuses their breathing while telling the story about the world getting ready for bed. Complete with beautiful illustrations, this book can be enjoyed by the whole family. Following the story, there is a complete list of the yoga poses...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, health

Cover: 'Hero'

"Hero" by Sarah Lean

★★★★★ Leo has a great imagination. He dreams and playacts at being a brave, heroic gladiator; he even has a homemade gladiator’s hat. In real life it appears that everyone else has something to be proud of except him. When Leo does something he knows is wrong to impress some kids at school, lies about it and is called a hero for saving a neighbor's dog, he...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Roller Girl'

"Roller Girl" by Victoria Jamieson

★★★★★ In this graphic novel, written by a derby girl herself, twelve-year-old Astrid discovers the world of roller derby. When Astrid's mom takes her and her best friend Nicole to a match, Astrid falls in love with the crazy outfits, eccentric nicknames, and fierceness of the sport. Astrid decides to sign-up for summer derby camp, expecting Nicole to sign-up as...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, award-winning, newbery award winner

Cover: 'One Witch at a Time'

"One Witch at a Time" by Stacy DeKeyser

★★★★ Loosely based on the fairytale “Jack and the Beanstalk”, the trouble begins when 13 year old Rudi is sent to market with Susanna to trade dairy products for meat and grain and possibly sell a cow. Susanna, in an effort to help him, sells one of his cows for some allegedly magic beans. It turns out that the beans were stolen from a witch in the neighboring...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The One and Only Ivan'

"The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applegate

★★★★★ This Newbery Award winning book offers a beautiful story about friendship and hope. Ivan, a gorilla who lives at a shopping mall, has learned to be fairly content with his life. He sleeps, eats, watches TV, talks to his elephant friend Stella and Bob the dog. Drawing also helps Ivan pass the time. Ivan’s owner gives him crayons and paper. Sometimes he eats...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, award-winning, caldecott award winner, newbery award winner

Cover: 'Wish Girl'

"Wish Girl" by Nikki Loftin

★★★★★ Unlike his boisterous, quarreling family, 12-year-old Peter Stone is quiet, thoughtful, sensitive, artistic and misunderstood. After his father loses his job and they move from the city to remote Texas Hill Country, he escapes daily to a magic lonely valley where he can be at one with nature, away from the crying and yelling.  On one of his trips to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Absolutely Truly'

"Absolutely Truly" by Heather Vogel Frederick

★★★★ Who wants to move from sunny Austin, Texas to the small, boring town of Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire where winter lasts at least 6 months of the year and there’s no mall or movie theater? Middle school student Truly Lovejoy has no choice when her family decides to move to her father’s hometown after “Black Monday,” or the day her father lost his arm in a...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Dear Hank Williams'

"Dear Hank Williams" by Kimberly Willis Holt

★★★★★ It’s the first day of school in September 1948 and Tate Ellerbee from Rippling Creek, Louisiana already has a school assignment—to find a pen pal and practice writing letters to a real person. She picks a relatively unknown country singer who she admires on the Louisiana Hayride radio show—Hank Williams. Through her wonderful letters to him we discover a...

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

Cover: 'Sam and Dave Dig a Hole'

"Sam and Dave Dig a Hole" by Mac Barnett

★★★★★ Sam and Dave are determined to dig a hole until they find something spectacular. What unfolds in this story is a wonderful mix of what is happening in the story and what is happening in the illustrations. This book is a 2015 Caldecott Honor Book for a good reason. The book as a whole, the writing and the illustrations, play off of each other so well that...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, award-winning

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