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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: '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

Cover: 'Home Alone'

"Home Alone" by Jason Rekulak

★★★★★ Home Alone is a classic holiday film that's widely loved and appreciated. It's a film that pops up like clockwork every December and never gets old, no matter how many times you watch it (at least in my experience!) If you and your kids are fans of Home Alone as much as I am, you can now experience the film in the form of an eye-catching illustrated...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, holiday, movies, movie tie-ins

Cover: 'The Song From Somewhere Else'

"The Song From Somewhere Else" by A.F. Harrold

★★★★★ If it hadn’t been for the disappearance of Quintilius Minimus, her cat, Francesca’s (Frank’s) unlikely friendship with Nick Underbridge, the unusually tall, awkward, different, smelly boy from school, would probably have never happened. And if the other boys from her school weren't taunting and bullying her while she was at the playground posting posters...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Wishtree'

"Wishtree" by Katherine Applegate

★★★★ Red, the unusual narrator of this story, has heard practically everything from the generations of people that have visited him and shared their hopes, dreams and definitely lots of wishes. But still he stays silent, until one day when Samar and Stephen, two very lonely children from two very different families wish for a friend, he has to find a way to...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Nest'

"The Nest" by Kenneth Oppel

★★★★ This tale is told from the perspective of Steven, a tween with OCD. His anxiety acts up again after the birth of his brother Theo, who his parents worry may have mental or other disabilities. I was immediately hooked by the creepy details which sounded like the makings for an episode of Doctor Who. Steven’s recurring nightmare is of a figure standing...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Girl with the Ghost Machine'

"The Girl with the Ghost Machine" by Lauren DeStefano

★★★★ Emmaline’s father misses her mother so much after her premature death that he builds a ghost machine to bring her back. But in the two years he spends tinkering with it night and day, it still won’t work properly. Emmaline, frustrated by the way the machine has consumed her father’s life, attempts to break the machine by pouring her cup of tea into it. Then...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A House Without Mirrors'

"A House Without Mirrors" by Mårten Sandén, Karin Altenberg

★★★★ After the death of her baby brother, Thomasine is staying with her cousins at her Great Aunt Henrietta’s house. The curious thing is that there are no mirrors hanging anywhere in this sprawling old manor. Then Thomasine’s five-year-old cousin Signe, who hardly ever speaks, comes out from the wardrobe where the mirrors are all hidden away, suddenly...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Tumble & Blue'

"Tumble & Blue" by Cassie Beasley

★★★★★ Dumped on the porch of his grandmother’s house in the middle of nowheresville by his father (who supposedly is working some things out), Blue Montgomery feels even more cursed. The whole Montgomery family is the victim of a curse originated many generations ago, supposedly by an ancestor's encounter with a legendary golden alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Spirit Hunters'

"Spirit Hunters" by Ellen Oh

★★★★★ Harper Raine is sure that there is something really wrong with the old Gothic house that her family is moving into, beyond the repairs and renovations that her parents are making. She can sense it, and a neighborhood girl who becomes her friend confirms that it is rumored to be haunted. And then there’s Billy, a boy her four-year-old brother Michael...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Apprentice Witch'

"The Apprentice Witch" by James Nicol

★★★★★ Sneaking out of her grandmother’s house early in the morning, young Arianwyn Gribble believes she is ready to become a full-fledged witch and take the Civil Witchcraft Authority’s evaluation and receive an assignment to serve her community. But then she loses her focus during the exam, the evaluation gauge supposedly malfunctions, and she is disappointingly...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming'

"The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming" by J. Anderson Coats

★★★★ Jane’s father was killed in the Civil War leaving her stern stepmother, brother and herself almost penniless. Like many other war widows and their families seeking new husbands and a prosperous life they board a ship to the west. Jane’s main job, since her father’s death and on the ship, is running after and caring for her little brother Jer. But she has...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt'

"Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt" by Ben Clanton

★★★★★ In the second book of this graphic novel series, Narwhal and Jelly decide to become super heroes! But, you can’t just become a super hero. One needs a super cool outfit, a super cool name, and most importantly, a super cool super power. Narwhal tries to be invisible, but it doesn't work. He tries to be super strong, and even tries to fly (under the sea...

Audience: children | Genre: graphic novel

Cover: 'Forever, or a Long, Long Time'

"Forever, or a Long, Long Time" by Caela Carter

★★★★★ How can Flora ever believe in forever? After being shuttled from foster home to foster home longer than she or her brother Julian can even remember, how can she trust her new mother (who she calls Person because there have been way too many mothers) after they are adopted and promised a forever home. Carrying scars from their past, Flora has trouble getting...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Beyond the Bright Blue Sea'

"Beyond the Bright Blue Sea" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Home for twelve-year-old Crow, as far as she has ever known, is desolate Elizabeth Island, Massachusetts, with Osh who found her as a baby adrift in a boat at sea, and Miss Maggie, the kind neighbor who lives across the sandbar.  Crow is happy with her life, but she yearns to know where she came from and who her parents are. After witnessing a fire on...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story'

"One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story" by Mary Downing Hahn

★★★★★ Shy, timid, Annie Browne probably would have had a hard time making new friends anyway, but arriving as the new girl at the finest school in the city makes it even more intimidating. Unfortunately, just as she arrives, a friendless, unlikable girl at school, Elsie Schneider, grabs her for her friend. Trouble is, Elsie wants exclusive rights to Annie and she...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Great Treehouse War'

"The Great Treehouse War" by Lisa Graff

★★★★★ If Winnie’s parents weren't acting so obsessively strange, and so hung up on spending exactly the same amount of time with her, the great treehouse war, as it was being called by the media, probably would not have happened.  When Winnie Malladi-Maradi’s  parents divorce and decide to share time with her equally,  they also decide that since...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Sputnik's Guide to Life On Earth'

"Sputnik's Guide to Life On Earth" by Frank Cottrell Boyce

★★★★★ Sent to a live with a foster family in the country the summer after his grandad could no longer care for Prez or himself, the only thing Prez Mellows can focus on is finding and being together with his grandad again. Enter Sputnik, an alien, who appears to be a dog (with leather helmet and pilot goggles) to everyone except Prez, who declares that he has...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Moo'

"Moo" by Sharon Creech

★★★★★ Almost on a whim Reena, her little brother Luke, and her parents move to Maine. They trade the bustling, big city life for a quiet harbor town with hills and valleys where they’re free to bike, hike and pick blueberries. But when their parents suddenly ‘volunteer” them to help an eccentric elderly neighbor with her animals, they really don’t know what to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Posted'

"Posted" by John David Anderson

★★★★ Putting post-it-notes on, and in each other’s lockers seemed like a good way for Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench to communicate with each other after cell phones were banned at Branton Middle School, until suddenly it escalates into a whole school war, and some of the notes get nasty. In the middle of this mess, Rose, an odd, new girl at...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'She Persisted'

"She Persisted" by Chelsea Clinton

★★★★★ "Sometimes being a girl isn't easy. At some point, someone probably will tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don't listen to them. These thirteen American women certainly did not take no for an answer. They persisted." From Ruby Bridges to Sally Ride, and from Oprah Winfrey to Nellie Bly, come short,...

Audience: children | Genre: picture book

Cover: 'Bubble'

"Bubble" by Stewart Foster

★★★★★ Being poked and monitored continuously and stuck inside an almost 100 percent air quality hospital room in London, all day, every day, is not the life any eleven-year old-boy would want.  Born with a rare immunodeficiency disease, this has had to be Joe’s life for as long as he can remember. All he wants is a normal life in the outside world with his...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Genevieve's War'

"Genevieve's War" by Patricia Reilly Giff

★★★★★ Spending the summer of 1939 working on her grandmother Meme’s farm in Alsace, France, thirteen-year-old Genevieve (Gen), an American, yearns to get back to her aunt’s house in New York. With rumors of the Germans invading Alsace and another world war starting she gets her chance to return. Yet when Gen notices her grandmother is injured, she makes a...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Evil Wizard Smallbone'

"The Evil Wizard Smallbone" by Delia Sherman

★★★★★ Fleeing his neglectful and abusive uncle in a brutally cold, blinding New England blizzard, Nick ends up on the porch of an eccentric old man who appears to be the owner of the Evil Wizard Bookstore. In exchange for a warm place to live and plenty to eat, the snarly old man orders him to clean the house, make meals and take care of the animals. The only...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

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