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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: 'Lizzy Bennet's Diary'

"Lizzy Bennet's Diary" by

★★★★★ Inspired by Jane Austen’s classic novel, “Pride and Prejudice”, we can easily believe that Elizabeth Bennet just might have written this diary.  It is a fun re-imagining of Lizzy Bennet’s world through her eyes with realistic journal entries and cute drawings and captions filling each page. But it’s the realistic invitations, notes, and letters glued...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, classics

Cover: 'Little Green Peas'

"Little Green Peas" by Keith Baker

★★★★ The peas from the alphabet sensation LMNO Peas have returned for a new adventure exploring color. From green gardens to purple mountains to the red colors of fall, the peas see color everywhere. This book is recommended for toddlers and preschoolers who will gain color knowledge and letter knowledge from the vibrant, fun illustrations.  

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader

Cover: 'A Dog Called Homeless'

"A Dog Called Homeless" by Sarah Lean

★★★★★ A year after her mother’s death, Cally sees her mother at the cemetery but no one will believe her. Worse yet, no one wants her to talk about her mother. She continues to see her mother often along with a friendly wolfhound and an elderly homeless man. She volunteers to not talk for a day at school to help raise money for a children’s hospice home and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing'

"The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing" by Sheila Turnage

★★★★ The Desperado Detectives are back! This time, Mo and Dale set out to uncover a ghostly mystery: the murder of Nellie Blake and her haunting of the Tupelo Inn. When Miss Lana accidently purchases the inn at an auction, Mo wants her to turn it into a successful business. But who would want to visit the haunted inn with Nellie creating havoc? This is a great...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Lion and the Bird'

"The Lion and the Bird" by Marianne Dubuc

★★★★ Lion kindly helps a bird who is cold and wounded and provides a warm place for the winter. They have a lovely time together, but when spring comes and bird's flock returns, he has to join them. This heart-touching universal tale about friendship, love and the ties that bind us is wonderfully told, and simply, but beautifully, illustrated. Preschoolers,...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Three Times Lucky'

"Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage

★★★★★ Mo LoBeau got lucky when she was a baby; she survived a hurricane her mother left her in and wound up in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. Orphaned, Mo made her own family with the Colonel, a quirky man with amnesia who found her after the hurricane, and Miss Lana, an eccentric café hostess. Mo helps out at the café with her best friend Dale, attends the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Hope Is A Ferris Wheel'

"Hope Is A Ferris Wheel" by Robin Herrera

★★★★ Star Mackie has every reason in the world to give up. She lives with her mother and sister Winter in a pinkish trailer with a plastic flamingo glued to the top. She has never met her father or even received a card from him. She starts an Emily Dickinson Poetry Club to meet friends in her new school. In her weeks of assigned vocabulary sentences (which she...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nightingale's Nest'

"Nightingale's Nest" by Nikki Loftin

★★★★★ The music he heard was like nothing he had ever heard before; it was like magic. Twelve-year-old John Fischer is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business when he meets a foster child, Gayle, the bird-like girl with the beautiful voice of a nightingale. When they become friends he discovers that her singing helps heal his body...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Real Boy'

"The Real Boy" by Anne Ursu

★★★★★ The massive walls around the protected island city of Asteri writhe with enchantment.  The wizards’ powerful magic protects the city from illness and harm.  A devastating worldwide plague many years ago killed numerous people from the island. “The boy”, Oscar, works as a lowly “Hand” for Caleb, the most powerful magician in the city. His job is to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Nest'

"Nest" by Jorey Hurley

★★★★★ Robins arrive in the spring, prepare a nest, raise their young throughout the seasons in this beautifully illustrated picture book that is perfect for sharing. With only one word on each page it reads like a poem. The pictures lend themselves to adult-child conversation beyond the words.    

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Winter of the Robots'

"The Winter of the Robots" by Kurtis Scaletta

★★★★★ It’s science fair time but Jim’s best friend Oliver always wants to build robots so he chooses a girl partner named Rocky.   He “borrows” cameras from his father’s security business and places them in a hidden junkyard in an attempt to study otters for their project.  They don’t find any otters, but discover strange noises and movement coming from...

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

Cover: 'Journey'

"Journey" by Aaron Becker

★★★★★ In this wordless story a lonely girl with a red piece of chalk draws herself into another world. On her journey she finds adventure, peril and ultimately friendship. Although readers will think of "Harold and the Purple Crayon," this is a much more engaging story.  The illustrations are rich and full of color and detail. People of all ages will be...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, caldecott award winner

Cover: 'Spark'

"Spark" by Kallie George, Geneviève Côté

★★★★ Spark is a small, young dragon with a mighty flame.  In other words, he has problems controlling his flames.  He turns marshmallows to a crisp and cracks dishes while trying to dry them.  His family and friends encourage him and try to help him.   This is a cute first chapter book with engaging illustrations for beginning readers....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader

Cover: 'Rooftoppers'

"Rooftoppers" by Katherine Rundell

★★★★★ Charles, an eccentric, erudite bachelor with a heart full of love finds a baby floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel. He takes her home, names her Sophie, and notifies the proper authorities who reluctantly agree to let him keep her.  Charles and Sophie have a wonderful life together until she turns 12 when the National...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Building Our House'

"Building Our House" by Jonathan Bean

★★★★★ This cozy picture book shows the year-and-a-half long construction process involved in building a house, from moving into a trailer to live until the house is done, picking out the site, consulting the blueprints, digging the basement, raising the frame, and working in all types of weather.  Mom and Dad both work on the house while the children play...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Museum'

"The Museum" by Susan Verde, Peter H. Reynolds

★★★★★ A little girl takes a tour of a museum, and each work of art gives her a different feeling. The rhyming lines help to evoke the feelings each work of art is meant to express. Featuring colorful re-creations of works by Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Auguste Rodin, this book also serves to introduce your child to the work of great artists...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, art

Cover: 'Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy'

"Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Opehlia Jane Worthington-Whittard is an extraordinary 11 year old girl; she just doesn’t know it yet.  Accepting a last-minute job offer to curate a sword exhibit at a museum in a foreign city, Ophelia’s father believes that this is just the change of scenery his daughters need after the recent death of their mother.  The plan is for Ophelia and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Superworm'

"Superworm" by Julia Donaldson

★★★★★ “Hip, hip hooray for SUPERWORM”, repeatedly chant the animals and insects in the forest as their hero Superworm saves them from many disasters.   But in the midst of their happiness the evil wizard lizard captures Superworm with his servant crow and puts an evil spell on him, forcing him to find treasure in the soil.  Will his friends rescue him,...

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

Cover: 'A Tale of Two Castles'

"A Tale of Two Castles" by Gail Carson Levine

★★★★★ Twelve year old Elodie is forced to leave her family and her island home of Lahnt, to sail to the town of Two Castles and begin a new life.  Stuck in Two Castles without any money to immediately follow her dream of being an actor, she is transported into the lair of a brilliant dragon, Meenore, who offers to employ her as his paid assistant, even...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy, dragons

Cover: 'If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!'

"If It's Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!" by Kim Norman

★★★★ Go on an adventure and find out all the fun things you can do in the snow! The book follows the rhythm of the children's song "If You're Happy and You Know It," so the book can be sung to the classic tune. Go skiing, sledding, and drink cocoa with a walrus, caribou, polar bear and other arctic creatures. Recommended for preschool children and families....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'What Does the Fox Say?'

"What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis

★★★★★ Dog goes woof and cat goes meow, but what does the fox say? If you loved the YouTube sensation "What Does the Fox Say?" you will love the children's picture book version! The book is filled with the zany lyrics to the popular song and kooky illustrations of the animals mentioned. Recommended for children and adults who are fans of the song, or anyone...

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

Cover: 'Santa Claus and The Three Bears'

"Santa Claus and The Three Bears" by Maria Modugno

★★★★★ The three bears weren't expecting company when they went for a walk on Christmas Eve. But who should appear but the merry old gentleman himself - Santa Claus! Santa tries out the Christmas pudding, the chairs and then the beds. Find out what happens when the three bears come home from their walk. Wonderful pictures and whimsical prose make for a lovely...

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

Cover: 'Handbook for Dragon Slayers'

"Handbook for Dragon Slayers" by Merrie Haskell

★★★★ 13-year-old Tilda is not your average fairytale princess. Born with a twisted foot, she knows that people in her kingdom don't respect her and she's bored with being a princess. Her boredom, however, comes to an abrupt halt when her evil cousin steals the throne. She is suddenly thrust into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure -- complete with magical horses --...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy, dragons

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