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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: 'The Lightning Queen'

"The Lightning Queen" by Laura Resau

★★★★★ Surprising, haunting, almost magical, this tween novel is unusual in that it spans generations. At the beginning of the story, eleven-year old Teo is suffering from the recent loss of his mother and sister Lucita on the Hill of Dust in Mexico, where hardly anything exciting ever happens. But when the gypsies roll in and he meets Esma, the self-proclaimed...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Rosemary Spell'

"The Rosemary Spell" by Virginia Zimmerman

★★★★★ Books and words have always been important to Rosemary and her best friend Adam, so when they discover an extremely old book in a locked cabinet in her father’s old study, they are excited beyond words. Is it perhaps a secret, magical, ancient book? Did it once belong to Shakespeare or perhaps to Constance Brooke, an elderly poet suffering from Alzheimer’s...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Paper Wishes'

"Paper Wishes" by Lois Sepahban

★★★★ Ten-year-old Manami lives a carefree life combing Bainbridge Island, Washington with her beloved grandfather and dog Yujiin. But it’s 1942, and after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor they are forced by the U.S. government, along with other Japanese Americans, to live in a one room prison camp in the California desert. Worse yet, Yujiin is forced out of...

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

Cover: 'Pax'

"Pax" by Sara Pennypacker

★★★★★ Forced by his father to return his beloved pet fox, Pax, to the wild and move three hundred miles away to live with his grandfather, twelve-year old Peter is devastated. Still grieving his mother’s recent death, losing his father to the war effort (again) and being forced to give up Pax, his friend and soul-mate, is too much. Unconcerned with his own safety...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Rosie Revere, Engineer'

"Rosie Revere, Engineer" by Andrea Beaty

★★★★★ Meet Rosie, the great-great-niece of the heroine Rosie the Riveter, who enjoys building different gadgets and gizmos. Rosie wants to become an engineer when she grows up! She is always trying to make new things, however when people laugh for joy at her inventions she mistakes that for people laughing at her inventions instead. Rosie wants to give up every...

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

Cover: 'Connect the Stars'

"Connect the Stars" by Marisa de los Santos, David Teague

★★★★ You could say that thirteen-year-old Audrey Alcott is obsessed with lying. She can’t help it. She instinctively knows when people are lying and it’s making her life so miserable that her parents send her to a six-week summer wilderness camp that promises attendees a “journey to confidence.” There she meets Aaron Archer, a kid with a brain like a walking...

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

Cover: 'Mother Bruce'

"Mother Bruce" by Ryan T. Higgins

★★★★★ Bruce is a grumpy bear who lives alone and has one passion—eggs. He loves making fancy egg recipes that he finds on the Internet, but one day he gets a big surprise. Before he gets his goose eggs cooked, they hatch and call him “Mama.” He tries repeatedly to get rid of the goslings, even by being extra grumpy and roaring, but they won’t leave, not even when...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids'

"Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids" by Jill Mills

★★★★★ This book totally lives up to its name; it is adorable! There are some seriously cute ways to make snacks and meals for you and your family. Adults and kids will both enjoy the recipes in this fun filled cookbook. Adults, you’ll find lots of healthy recipes and treats that you can make with your kids or for them as a surprise. Kids, you will find cool...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Vincent Paints His House'

"Vincent Paints His House" by Tedd Arnold

★★★★★ This book transports us to Vincent's house on the day he decides to paint it. This book pays homage to the artist himself, Vincent van Gogh. As Vincent begins painting his house he encounters various animals who also live on his house that have differing opinions as to which color to paint it. Not only are all the colors of the rainbow mentioned as options...

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

Cover: 'What Is Punk?'

"What Is Punk?" by Eric Morse, Anny Yi

★★★★★ Did you grow up listening to Punk music and wish to share it with your kids or reminisce about it? "What Is Punk" covers the rise of the Punk movement, the various bands associated with it, and its fashion. Experience this book in all its glory as you learn all about the Ramones to The Slits to the Descendents in a fun story that rhymes and is illustrated...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Girl Who Could Not Dream'

"The Girl Who Could Not Dream" by Sarah Beth Durst

★★★★ Imagine catching dreams, distilling them, pouring them into bottles and selling them to people searching for certain types of dreams. This is what Sophie’s parents do somewhat secretly in the lower level of their bookstore. Sophie, however, is not allowed to dream because when she does her dreams become real. Her octopus-like pet, Monster, came into her...

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

Cover: 'You Can't See the Elephants'

"You Can't See the Elephants" by Susan Kreller, Elizabeth Gaffney

★★★★★ Since her mother died, her grief-stricken father has been sending thirteen-year-old Mascha to her grandparent’s house for the summer in Clinton, a small town where nothing exciting ever happens. She wanders around town with her earbuds in, lonely and bored, until she meets Julia and Max who are the only kids who seem to want to talk to her. As she gets to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Nearer Moon'

"A Nearer Moon" by Melanie Crowder

★★★★ Luna and Willow live in a village where houses are raised on stilts. They have heard stories about creatures living under the water and the time before the river had a dam, when the clean water flowed freely, and the mucky, slick swamp didn’t exist. When Luna and Willow venture out in their flat boat, and Luna ignores her mother’s silly rules and goes below...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Emotions' Survival Guide'

"The Emotions' Survival Guide" by Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger

★★★★★ Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger from Disney/Pixar's "Inside Out" are here to help children ages 8-12 navigate their feelings. The book covers ways to deal with sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and ways to find happiness in all situations. It gives ideas of things to do when feeling sad, ways to calm down when feeling angry, and how to deal with change....

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition'

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition" by J. K. Rowling, Jim Kay

★★★★★ For fans of the Harry Potter series, this beautiful new release of the first book in the beloved series is a must read! With full color illustrations at least every few pages, this is a new, fantastic way to read the book that brought us the magical world J.K. Rowling created. Perfect for devoted fans, this version is also great for those looking for a more...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Wolf Wilder'

"The Wolf Wilder" by Katherine Rundell

★★★★★ Feodora and her mother, Marina live in the bitterly cold Russian wilderness with wolves. They are known as wolf wilders, whose job it is to teach “domesticated” wolves, formerly kept as pets by the rich, how to be wild again. When the mean, wolf-hating General Rakov burns their house and captures her mother, Feo sets off with her three half-wild wolves and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'My Diary from the Edge of the World'

"My Diary from the Edge of the World" by Jodi Lynn Anderson

★★★★★ Gracie Lockwood lives in Cliffden, Maine, an ordinary enough sounding city, but it is anything but ordinary. Her world is populated with flying dragons, sasquatches, giants, mermaids, witches and angels. Gracie loves her home, but when the dreaded Dark Cloud begins hanging around, apparently in search of her sickly brother Sam, her family flees in a...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'All I Want for Christmas Is You'

"All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey, Colleen Madden

★★★★★ If you love Mariah Carey's hit Christmas song "All I Want for Christmas Is You," this picture book is for you! The words in the picture book are from Carey's song, so you can sing the lyrics or simply read them. The illustrations tell the story of a little Mariah wishing and hoping for a puppy from Santa Claus. Follow Mariah on a snowy, Christmas journey to...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, read-alouds

Cover: 'Listen to the Moon'

"Listen to the Moon" by Michael Morpurgo

★★★★★ Skipping school while out fishing with his father near the island of St. Helen's, Alfie and his father discover a half-starved, injured young girl who is barely alive on the small uninhabited island. Where she came from is a mystery since she is not speaking. His family cares for her, names her Lucy, and as their relationship grows and she becomes a part of...

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

Cover: 'The Blackthorn Key'

"The Blackthorn Key" by Kevin Sands

★★★★★ An orphan, Christopher Rowe feels lucky to be chosen as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn, a great and kind apothecary. In order to keep recipes for his medicines and potions secret, his master uses complex codes and puzzles which Christopher is being taught to decipher. But when his master is brutally killed and a strange cult appears to be...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Thing About Jellyfish'

"The Thing About Jellyfish" by Ali Benjamin

★★★★★ It doesn’t make sense. How could it happen? She’s sick of hearing people say “some things just happen.” It isn’t really a reason. For a scientific thinker like seventh-grader Suzy Swanson, there has to be an explanation. Franny Jackson, her twelve year-old best friend, was an excellent swimmer, so how could she have just drowned? Bit by bit, through many...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat'

"A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat" by Emily Jenkins, Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This is one of the best picture books that I have read in a long time! Just as the title suggests, the book follows one recipe for Blackberry Fool through different centuries and families. The recipe is generally made the same in each family, however, the technology used and family preparing the recipe are vastly different. Historically this book shows...

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

Cover: 'A Curious Tale of the In-Between'

"A Curious Tale of the In-Between" by Lauren DeStefano

★★★★ Pram Bellamy lives with her two aunts in a home for the elderly which they manage. Her mother died under strange circumstances in childbirth, and all she was told about her father is that he was a sailor. She’s been homeschooled and has no friends except for a ghost named Felix near the pond. As far as she knows she has always been able to see and talk to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Ice Dogs'

"Ice Dogs" by Terry Lynn Johnson

★★★★★ "Ice Dogs" is a very well written adventure book for tweens. The story is told from 14 year-old Victoria Secord's point of view, and follows her adventure of being lost in the Alaskan Wilderness. Victoria has grown up in Alaska and has been around dogsled racers most of her life. Following the death of her dad she takes to the races. While out on a run she...

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

Cover: 'The Nonsense Show'

"The Nonsense Show" by Eric Carle

★★★★ It’s a fun, upside-down world in this new picture book that's full of nonsense by Eric Carle. A boy is pulled from a hat by a rabbit magician, a bird is living in an aquarium and a fish in a cage, a human baby is in a kangaroo's pouch, mice are catching cats, a man is living in a dog house and more. It’s all of course in good fun. With classic, colorful,...

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

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