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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: 'Snowman's Story'

"Snowman's Story" by Will Hillenbrand

★★★★ Your preschool child can tell the story to you with this wordless picture book featuring a sweet snowman, cute bunny and a wandering top hat.  Bunny finds a hat and crawls inside but when bear finds it and uses it to top the snowman that he is building, he is unaware that a bunny is inside. Apparently bunny likes stories too so after the snowman reads...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'A Snicker of Magic'

"A Snicker of Magic" by Natalie Lloyd

★★★★★ Natalie Lloyd's book is one of those rare, special books that grab you from the beginning and you don’t want to be released because the journey is quite simply, “splendiferous.” Our extremely likable narrator is Felicity Juniper Pickle, a 6th-grade girl as unique as her mother’s hometown, Midnight Gulch, where she, her mother, little sister Frannie Jo and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'City Cat'

"City Cat" by Kate Banks

★★★★★ This is an adorable picture book that features a family cat that secretly follows his family as they travel around Europe. It features landmarks in some of the greatest cities, such as London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Venice, and information at end of the book on each. As someone who's been to many of the cities featured, I thought the pictures were authentic...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'The Book With No Pictures'

"The Book With No Pictures" by B. J. Novak

★★★★ How can a book be a picture book if there are no pictures? B.J. Novak, best known for his writing and acting on "The Office," shows that a book can be fun without illustrations. But how? Well, the person reading the book has to say everything the words say...no matter what. Even if the words have no meaning or are down-right ridiculous, the reader still has...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, read-alouds

Cover: 'Nightmares!'

"Nightmares!" by Jason Segel

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Charlie Laird has big problems. His mom died, his dad remarried, and now together with his younger brother Jack they must move into his new "stepmonster’s" (that’s what he calls her) odd-looking purple mansion with a tower. Positive that his new "stepmonster" is a witch, he barricades himself inside his new bedroom where he can’t sleep...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Boundless'

"The Boundless" by Kenneth Oppel

★★★★★ After three long years, teen-aged William Everett is dropped off at the train tracks in a town without a name to meet up with his father who is helping build the Canadian Pacific Railway.  The train they will be boarding is called "The Boundless" because of its size and magnificence.  After accidentally witnessing a murder and finding a train car...

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

Cover: 'Fly Away'

"Fly Away" by Patricia MacLachlan

★★★★★ Newbery award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan has done it again. She has written an easy-to-read story for children with sparse, well-chosen words and conversation that eloquently speaks volumes on what it means to be a family. Lucy is traveling with her mother, father, sister Gracie and her little brother Teddy in a beat-up Volkswagen bus to her Aunt...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms'

"Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms" by Katherine Rundell

★★★★★ Will (Wihelmina) loves her wonderful, wild life on the hot, dusty African farm where she is free to roam, climb trees and play with her best friend Simon and numerous animals all day long. Unfortunately her idyllic life comes to an abrupt halt after her father dies from malaria and her father’s friend and new guardian Captain Browne marries a heartless...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lots of Dots'

"Lots of Dots" by Craig Frazier

★★★★ Author and illustrator Craig Frazier creates dots of all colors and dimensions that young readers can discover around them. There are brightly-colored floating balloon dots, big drum stick dots, oranges (dots) falling from a tree, traffic light dots, ice cream dots, pea dots, heavy dumbbell dots, light bubble dots and more. This fun “I Spy” read-alike with...

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

Cover: 'The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story'

"The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story" by R. J. Palacio

★★★★★ This is a fantastic addition to the book Wonder, the incredible story about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a unique face. In Wonder, readers had a glimpse into the viewpoints of several characters in Auggie's world, except for the bully himself: Julian. Now readers finally get a chance to experience Julian's point of view, and learn why he hated Auggie so...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Rain Reign'

"Rain Reign" by Ann M. Martin

★★★★★ The likable narrator of this book, fifth-grader Rose Howard, sees homonyms everywhere and obsessively collects them. Her mother is gone (she doesn't know exactly where) so she lives with her impatient father, is strict about her own (and everyone’s) rules, and has a diagnosis: high functioning autism or Aspergers. When her beloved adopted dog, Rain,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, differing abilities

Cover: 'The Thickety: A Path Begins'

"The Thickety: A Path Begins" by J. A. White, Andrea Offermann

★★★★★ Witchcraft and magic are denounced as evil, feared and banned on this island colony that is surrounded by a strange forbidden forest with feared creatures known as the Dark Wood or Thickety.  At only 5 years old Kara along with her newborn brother Taff witness the hanging death of their mother who was proclaimed a witch and their lives radically change...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Missing Pieces of Me'

"The Missing Pieces of Me" by Jean Van Leeuwen

★★★★★ Weezie (Grace Louise) lives with her mother and step brother Jackson and step sister Ruth Ann in a trailer court and dreams of finding a father she knows nothing about. Still grieving after the recent death of her grandmother who loved and understood her, she desperately tries to please her overworked mother who often calls her a bad girl and whom it seems...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Forbidden Library'

"The Forbidden Library" by Django Wexler

★★★★★ After overhearing an insect-like black fairy in the kitchen arguing with her father, Alice is informed that her father is dead and she is ordered to go and live with Geryon, an unknown uncle who has a massive library which she is forbidden to enter and also not to read any books inside it. Ashes, a talking cat who admits to being only half a cat, sneaks her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Hook's Revenge'

"Hook's Revenge" by Heidi Schulz

★★★★★ Jocelyn has piracy and adventure in her blood so why did her grandfather send her to an all-too-pink finishing school for girls? Because she is the daughter of the notorious pirate Captain James Hook, that’s why. After receiving a posthumous letter from her father requesting her to avenge his death and destroy the infamous crocodile that took his life,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Ten Eggs in a Nest'

"Ten Eggs in a Nest" by Marilyn Sadler, Michael Fleming

★★★★★ Gwen, the hen, has laid her eggs but tells the soon-to-be father, Red Rooster, that it is bad luck to count your eggs before they hatch. Soon one egg hatches and proud Red Rooster goes to Worm World to buy a worm for his new chick. When he gets back, however, more chicks hatch requiring Red Rooster to make several trips back and forth to Worm World to buy...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, read-alouds

Cover: 'Naked!'

"Naked!" by Michael Ian Black

★★★★★ This wonderful, enjoyable read-aloud celebrates the joys of being naked—naked, naked, naked. The wide-mouthed boy in this picture book eats (several) cookies-naked, slides down the stairs-naked, and dreams of going to school, doing the hokey pokey, and playing on the playground-naked. Children will easily identify with this sometimes-caped crusader and his...

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

Cover: 'The Witch's Boy'

"The Witch's Boy" by Kelly Barnhill

★★★★★ Ned and his parents live in a small village at the edge of a dark and mysterious wood. His mother is a witch and his father is a woodcutter. Ned has never been the same since the day his twin brother died and he lived. He never speaks, and if he does, it is with a terrible stutter. The villagers all make fun of him and think him useless. The only thing the...

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

Cover: 'How To Train A Train'

"How To Train A Train" by Jason Carter Eaton

★★★★★ How do you train your train? Need help? Check this book out to learn how to catch a live train, train your pet train, name your train, play with your train, and care for your new friend. All of your friends will be impressed with your knowledge of pet train behavior! There are also incredible pictures included to help illustrate different train...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'My Brother's Shadow'

"My Brother's Shadow" by Tom Avery

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Kaia is frozen in time, a horrendous, unimaginable time; the day she found her brother Moses in his bloody bed, dead.  Her mother, who has lost her job, numbs herself with booze, Kaia with not talking, withdrawing from everyone at school where she’s known as "the freak", not even daring to read any books at a higher reading level than...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: '365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts'

"365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts" by R. J. Palacio

★★★★★ Precepts are words to live by, as Mr. Browne taught his fifth grade students in Wonder. In this compilation of 365 inspirational precepts, we get a glimpse into Mr. Browne's world of teaching. Each day of the year has a precept that is either a famous quote from a philosopher, a saying on a fortune cookie, lyrics from a song, among others. After each month...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Dragon on Trial'

"Dragon on Trial" by Tui T. Sutherland, Kari Sutherland

★★★ After rescuing a griffin in the first book, ”The Menagerie”, Logan is officially accepted as a member of the secret menagerie that cares for mythical creatures. This time the crisis involves the disappearance and presumed murder of Pelly, the goose who lays the golden eggs. Snatch, a dragon in the menagerie, is blamed, but Logan and his friend Zoe are sure...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Midnight Library'

"The Midnight Library" by Kazuno Kohara

★★★★ Imagine a library open only at night, frequented by owls, tortoises, wolves, squirrels and other animals and you have the premise for this simple picture book. Because the tortoise is slowly reading his book at the library, the little girl librarian suggests that he get a library card to check out his book and continue reading it at home. The woodcut...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Gravity'

"Gravity" by Jason Chin

★★★★★ What if? This book asks just this question about gravity and what would happen if there was none. Gain a glimpse of our universe as if gravity did not exist. Jason Chin does a wonderful job getting a young reader introduced to the sometimes complex understanding of gravity. The words are few and basic yet they help the youngest of minds to begin thinking...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, outer space, science

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