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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: '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

Cover: 'Sad Animal Facts'

"Sad Animal Facts" by Brooke Barker

★★★★ For those of you who like animal trivia facts, this book is for you. There are over 150 hand-drawn illustrations with little known facts about your favorite animal. For example, did you know that a koi fish can live 200 years? Or that gorillas can catch human colds or that camels can drink 30 gallons of water in 15 minutes? This book is a quick read...

Audience: adults, children, teens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'See You in the Cosmos'

"See You in the Cosmos" by Jack Cheng

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski records his daily life on a golden iPod while building a rocket (Voyager 3) with hopes of launching his iPod into space to communicate with aliens about life on Earth. With his dog, Carl Sagan, he heads to the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival with dreams of a successful launch. His father is dead, his brother Ronnie...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'As Brave As You'

"As Brave As You" by Jason Reynolds

★★★★★ Eleven-year-old Genie is nervous to be spending a whole month of his summer vacation (with his older brother, Ernie, Jr.) at his paternal grandparents’ house. Not only is this Brooklyn native unprepared for life in the country (no cell signal or internet?!), it’s the first time his family has seen his grandparents in ten years, and there’s a lot of...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Love,Ish'

"Love,Ish" by Karen Rivers

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Miscah “Ish” Love is a smart, self-aware, young girl with big dreams. She wants to be one of the first people to live on Mars. Together with Tig, her BFF (Best Friend Forever), they researched and planned everything together, even applied online, but now Tig is DTM, Dead To Me (her), because he moved away and she hasn't heard from him....

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Goldfish Boy'

"The Goldfish Boy" by Lisa Thompson

★★★★★ Matthew Corbin is the “Goldfish Boy;" at least that’s what his cul-de-sac neighbors call him. In the safety of the upstairs window in his room, he watches and records his neighbors' comings and goings. Between that and all the compulsive hand and body washing, obsessing about germs and his supply of plastic gloves, and feeling responsible for his baby...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Ugly'

"Ugly" by Robert Hoge

★★★★ Growing up fairly normal-looking is difficult enough, but when you are, well, ugly, it is almost unimaginable. Born with a tennis ball-shaped tumor in the middle of his face instead of a nose, and with short twisted, mangled legs, Robert Hoge was not the sort of baby mothers rush to take home. As a matter of fact, his mother didn’t. After knowing the facts...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Scar Island'

"Scar Island" by Dan Gemeinhart

★★★★★ No one wants to end up on Scar Island, no one. Believing his crime to be so terrible, Jonathan Grimsby feels he deserves whatever punishment or bad treatment he is given at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys on this tiny, stony, awful spot in the black sea. Finding a crew of would-be gnarly pirates as the adults in charge, life is constant...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'My Happy Life'

"My Happy Life" by Rose Lagercrantz, Eva Eriksson, Julia Marshall

★★★★★ This book opens as Dani tries to fall asleep by counting all the times in her life she has been happy. Along with those happy times, she remembers some not so happy. Her mother died when she was very young and she lives with her father. Then, in her first year of school, her best friend moves away! But Dani stays positive. Lagercrantz excellently captures...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Race the Night'

"Race the Night" by Kirsten Hubbard

★★★★★ Has the world really ended? Is there really only pollution, drought and this desert ranch and a few chosen special kids and teachers left? Twelve-year-old Eider has nagging doubts and is plagued by memories of another world with her sister in it. At night she takes forbidden exploratory trips beyond the closely monitored fence and collects prohibitive...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Train I Ride'

"Train I Ride" by Paul Mosier

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Ryder is a wounded, but resourceful girl without a home, who is worried about her dwindling pool of relatives and looming foster care. This time she’s being sent from California by train to a relative in Chicago she doesn’t know. She was living with an uncaring grandmother after her drug-addicted mother could no longer care for her. On her...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Beautiful Blue World'

"Beautiful Blue World" by Suzanne LaFleur

★★★★ Even though Sofarende, where twelve-year-old Mathilde lives, is at war, and there are bombings and sirens and constant food shortages, she is content. After all, she has her family and her best friend Megs by her side.  But when the army offers money and safety to families whose children help in the war effort under very strict rules and secrecy, Megs...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Secret Horses of Briar Hill'

"The Secret Horses of Briar Hill" by Megan Shepherd

★★★★★ Emmaline May lives at Briar Hill, a makeshift hospital in a home that a princess used to live in. She was sent there instead of to a family living in the country during the war because she has the “stillwaters” (tuberculosis). She has a secret that she keeps from almost everyone; only she can see winged horses living in the hospital's mirrors. Entering the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Wolf Hollow'

"Wolf Hollow" by Lauren Wolk

★★★★★ Turning twelve years old is not always the milestone that separates a person’s life between childhood and adulthood, but in the aftermath of the wars, it’s what happened to Annabelle. Her quiet, comfortable small town life is quickly changed by a nasty girl, Betty Glengary, the new girl in school who chooses to bully Annabelle. A reclusive World War I...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Before Morning'

"Before Morning" by Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes

★★★★★ In this beautiful picture book it really is all about the stunning muted scratch-board art by Caldecott award-winning artist Beth Krommes. Spare lyrical text by Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman almost sings to us as we get lost in intricate pictures displaying a beautiful overnight snowfall which slowly transforms the morning into a beautiful world of...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nine Open Arms'

"Nine Open Arms" by Benny Lindelauf

★★★★★ “Is it true that some stories only just manage to be born? Or do these stories always seek their own path into the world, and do they always, eventually, find a way of being told?” What first attracted me to this book was the cover art—a brick house on a deserted road with no front door, combined inside the jacket with a mysterious bed in a field and a...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lucy Rescued'

"Lucy Rescued" by Harriet Ziefert

Lucy, a small white dog, is adopted from an animal shelter just in time. But adjusting to her new home and family is tough on her and her new family.  Lucy can’t seem to stop howling; she howls all day and night. In this sweet, simply but beautifully illustrated story, we follow Lucy and her family on their journey to love, understanding and acceptance...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, pets

Cover: 'No Such Thing As Dragons'

"No Such Thing As Dragons" by Philip Reeve

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Ansel, a mute boy, is sold by his father to Brock, a self-proclaimed dragon slayer who needs someone who will keep his secrets safe. They travel town to town on horseback searching for food and shelter in exchange for protecting villagers from dragons. In Drachenberg, his master accepts a quest to climb the steep mountain and rid the village...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Breaking Stalin's Nose'

"Breaking Stalin's Nose" by Eugene Yelchin

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Sasha Zaichik has prepared to become a member of the Soviet Young Pioneers since he was 6 years old.  Just as he is almost ready to realize his dream, his world and his family seemingly collapse, as he discovers that everything that he believed growing up in the Communist Soviet Union was a lie. This simply-told but powerful historical...

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

Cover: 'Furthermore'

"Furthermore" by Tahereh Mafi

★★★★★ Ferenwood is a community of sharp, bright colors, predictable, common magic, and adventure. Unfortunately Alice Alexis Queensmeadow doesn’t quite fit in. She’s stark white except for her ginger colored eyes, she doesn’t appear to be very good at magic, and her hopes for an adventurous life have been smashed by the disastrous results from her Surrender...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Foxheart'

"Foxheart" by Claire Legrand

★★★★★ Quicksilver is not your ordinary heroine. Left on the steps of Saint Martta’s convent when she was three-years-old, presumably nameless, with an unusual mane of gray hair, she is continuously taunted with names like pig and witch. Saved by a kind yellow dog she names Fox, who becomes her partner, she steals in order to survive in the dangerous Star Lands...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

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