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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 Imaginary'

"The Imaginary" by A. F. Harrold, Emily Gravett

★★★★★ A.F. Harrold's book "The Imaginary" opens with Christina Rossetti's poem, "Remember," an eloquent plea for the speaker's beloved to remember her after she has died. While readers might be baffled by the author's choice of this poem, those readers who chose to return to the poem after the book ends, will understand exactly what Rosetti and Harrold meant...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Return to Augie Hobble'

"Return to Augie Hobble" by Lane Smith

★★★★★ Augie’s life is like a strange, really bad fairy tale—literally. His parents own an amusement park he works at called Fairy Tale Place which they are struggling to keep going. He is bullied at school, has failed Creative Arts and needs to redo his final project, and the girl he likes barely knows he’s alive. On top of all this, his best friend Britt dies...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Handful of Stars'

"A Handful of Stars" by Cynthia Lord

★★★★★ Lily’s dog, Lucky is blind, so when he slips out of his collar and runs across the blueberry barrens in Maine she’s desperately afraid he might get hurt or lost.  That’s how she meets Salma Santiago, daughter of a seasonal migrant worker helping harvest blueberries, who entices Lucky with a peanut butter sandwich and some chips.  They become real...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lost in the Sun'

"Lost in the Sun" by Lisa Graff

★★★★★ Fifth grade was the worst. Sixth grade could be a fresh start but Trent is sure everyone hates him for what he did—accidentally hit Jared Richards in the chest with a hockey puck and killed him. Trent is having trouble forgiving himself and remains mired in guilt. Things slowly begin to change after he meets Fallon Little, an odd girl with a scar across her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Castle Hangnail'

"Castle Hangnail" by Ursula Vernon

★★★★ The minions at Castle Hangnail are desperate. In order to keep the castle they love they need a new master for magic and evil responsibilities or the Board of Magic will force closure. But when Molly, who is short and barely 12-years-old, shows up on their doorstep and claims to be a wicked witch, they are doubtful she’s the real thing. While she’s trying...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Truth About Twinkie Pie'

"The Truth About Twinkie Pie" by The Truth About Twinkie Pie

★★★★★ 12-year–old Gigi lives with her sister Didi who is a hairstylist in a trailer park. When Didi wins one million dollars in a cooking contest she is able to help realize the big dreams she has for Gigi by moving to Long Island and enrolling her in an upscale high school. Gigi, who hates her name and asks the new kids at school to call her Leia, becomes...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Orion and the Dark'

"Orion and the Dark" by Emma Yarlett

★★★★★ This adorable picture book is about a little boy named Orion who is afraid of everything, especially the dark! He tries and tries to find ways to not be afraid but nothing works. One night, he decides to tell the dark to go away. When the dark slips through his window and invites him to have an adventure, Orion learns that he doesn't need to be afraid with...

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

Cover: 'Cat & Bunny'

"Cat & Bunny" by Mary Lundquist

★★★★★ This adorable book tells the story of Cat and Bunny, two of the very best of friends. Cat and Bunny are inseparable. That is until the day that they are playing in the park and the other kids ask to join their game. Bunny says yes but Cat doesn't want to share her friend. Cat storms off and ends up alone until she meets a kitten and starts a new game....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, picture book

Cover: 'I Love Dogs!'

"I Love Dogs!" by Sue Stainton

★★★★★ This rollicking book is filled with the exuberant joy of a boy who loves dogs. While spending the day at the park, the boy meets every type of dog imaginable. There are dogs that are spotty, dotty, wrinkly, crinkly... and many, many more! Will this little boy ever find the perfect dog for him? I highly recommend this book for all dog-loving kids!  

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

Cover: 'Pete the Cat and the New Guy'

"Pete the Cat and the New Guy" by Kimberly Dean, James Dean

★★★★★ Pete the Cat is easily one of my favorite children's book characters. In this story, Pete meets Gus the Platypus and tries to help him fit into his new neighborhood. When Gus has a hard time trying out everyone's favorite activities, Pete tries to cheer him up. What they learn is that Gus has a special talent that is unique to him that he can share with his...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, easy reader

Cover: 'Spots in a Box'

"Spots in a Box" by Helen Ward

★★★★★ This fun book is about a guinea fowl who doesn't have any spots. When he orders them in the mail, they arrive as something quite unexpected. As he explores the unexpected assortment of spots, he comes to realize that not all spots are created equal just like no two individuals are exactly alike. What he discovers is that it is more important to be happy...

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

Cover: 'Smick!'

"Smick!" by Doreen Cronin

★★★★★ This adorable book of few words is perfect to share with beginning readers and older kids too. Smick is irresistibly cute as he does what dogs do, chases, fetches, and looks huggable. Smick is happy when a stick shows up, but how will he react when a chick appears? Actions, rhymes, and wordplay make this a fun and quick read that will help kids discover the...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, easy reader

Cover: 'Goodnight Football'

"Goodnight Football" by Michael Dahl, Christina E. Forshay

★★★★★ This bedtime story will bring back sweet memories of football season. Told in rhyme, it follows a little boy as he attends a Friday night game with his family. From concessions, to the players, to the roar of the crowd, you'll remember why we love this game so much, and the satisfaction we feel as our team wins and we head home to snuggle into bed. This is...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, picture book

Cover: 'The League of Beastly Dreadfuls'

"The League of Beastly Dreadfuls" by Holly Grant

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Anastasia McCrumpet is snatched from her school library by two tiny “ancient” ladies claiming to be her great aunties; only she doesn’t have any great aunts. She is told that her parents have suffered an unfortunate vacuum cleaner accident. They take her, not to a hospital, but to a dreary Victorian home in the middle of nowhere that used to...

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

Cover: 'Ms. Rapscott's Girls'

"Ms. Rapscott's Girls" by Elise Primavera

★★★★ There are a lot of extraordinary things about the Great Rapscott School for Girls. The students arrive by air in E-Z open tab boxes, they are hand-picked from homes where the girls' parents are so busy they scarcely notice they’re gone, the school is located in a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere, and the curriculum focuses on getting lost on purpose. The...

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

Cover: 'The Scavengers'

"The Scavengers" by Michael Perry

★★★★ Don't miss Wisconsin author Michael's Perry's foray into children's fiction, even if you are a grown up! This dystopian chapter book follows twelve-year-old Maggie, (who later renames herself Ford Falcon) her life living outside of the Bubble Cities, and her quest to find her parents after they mysteriously disappear. Despite the futuristic, sci-fi plot,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Moonpenny Island'

"Moonpenny Island" by Tricia Springstubb, Gilbert Ford

★★★★ The only eleven year-olds on the small island, Flor and her best friend and soulmate, Sylvie, share everything and lead an idyllic life. At the end of the summer, however, suddenly everything changes. Sylvie is mysteriously sent to the mainland to school, Flor’s mother disappears supposedly to take care of her mother, her sister Cecilia is harboring what...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story'

"Good Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story" by Mariam Gates, Sara Jane Hinder

★★★★★ You don't have to be a yogi to love this book. This pose-by-pose bedtime story takes children through gentle yoga poses and focuses their breathing while telling the story about the world getting ready for bed. Complete with beautiful illustrations, this book can be enjoyed by the whole family. Following the story, there is a complete list of the yoga poses...

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

Cover: 'Hero'

"Hero" by Sarah Lean

★★★★★ Leo has a great imagination. He dreams and playacts at being a brave, heroic gladiator; he even has a homemade gladiator’s hat. In real life it appears that everyone else has something to be proud of except him. When Leo does something he knows is wrong to impress some kids at school, lies about it and is called a hero for saving a neighbor's dog, he...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Roller Girl'

"Roller Girl" by Victoria Jamieson

★★★★★ In this graphic novel, written by a derby girl herself, twelve-year-old Astrid discovers the world of roller derby. When Astrid's mom takes her and her best friend Nicole to a match, Astrid falls in love with the crazy outfits, eccentric nicknames, and fierceness of the sport. Astrid decides to sign-up for summer derby camp, expecting Nicole to sign-up as...

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

Cover: 'One Witch at a Time'

"One Witch at a Time" by Stacy DeKeyser

★★★★ Loosely based on the fairytale “Jack and the Beanstalk”, the trouble begins when 13 year old Rudi is sent to market with Susanna to trade dairy products for meat and grain and possibly sell a cow. Susanna, in an effort to help him, sells one of his cows for some allegedly magic beans. It turns out that the beans were stolen from a witch in the neighboring...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

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