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Staff Reviews: For Tweens

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books and DVDs for tweens! (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 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: '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: '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: '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

Cover: 'A Most Magical Girl'

"A Most Magical Girl" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Suddenly thrust by her mother into the care of two unknown aunts who have an old, dusty magic shop full of broomsticks, wands, and magic potions, Annabel Grey is more than a little confused. Raised in Victorian England as a prim and proper young lady with a beautiful wardrobe and set of manners, this is nothing like the life she has known. While she is...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Littlest Bigfoot'

"The Littlest Bigfoot" by Jennifer Weiner

★★★★★ Off to her eighth boarding school, this one an Experimental Center in the woods proclaiming to respect everyone’s uniqueness, twelve-year-old Alice Mayfair knows instinctively that this new school will still be like all the others. Teased and bullied at her previous seven schools about “the Mane,” her big, wild, uncontrollable hair, her large body, her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Girl Who Drank the Moon'

"The Girl Who Drank the Moon" by Kelly Barnhill

★★★★★  Every year a newborn baby from the Protectorate is left in the nearby forest in an effort to appease the witch. Xan, the forest witch, doesn’t understand this tradition, but in order to rescue the infants she scoops them up and delivers them to adoptive families in the town on the other side of the forest.  When she rescues one special baby and...

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

Cover: 'The Poet's Dog'

"The Poet's Dog" by Patricia MacLachlan

★★★★ Trapped in a bitter blizzard, two children, Flora and Nickel, are led to a safe, warm cabin by a dog named Teddy who speaks in a language they immediately understand. They find food and firewood to make a fire and share life stories while they plan how they can get word to the childrens' mother. Teddy knows instinctively how to rescue them, just like he was...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Eleven and Holding'

"Eleven and Holding" by Mary Penney

★★★★ Macy is not celebrating her upcoming birthday.  She’s determined not to turn twelve without her father.  Her father has been gone for months now and no one is telling her the truth about his disappearance.  Jack, her baby brother, is getting most of her mother’s attention, her beloved grandmother, Nana, has recently died and her shop has been...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany

★★★★★ Taking place 19 years after the events of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Harry Potter and his wife, Ginny, are happily raising their kids James, Albus, and Lily. Harry, the head of Magical Law Enforcement, finds it hard to connect with Albus, who leaves for his first year at Hogwarts as the story begins. Over the next few years, Albus becomes an...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Ghosts'

"Ghosts" by Raina Telgemeier

★★★★ Cat and Maya's family moves to a new town in California for Maya's health; Maya has cystic fibrosis and the town's fog and mist from the ocean will help Maya breathe easier. Cat and Maya explore the town and meet Carlos along the way. Carlos is the town's young ghost tour guide. Ghosts?! In this town? Cat is terrified of all scary things, but Maya is eager...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, graphic novel

Cover: 'The  Seventh Wish'

"The Seventh Wish" by Kate Messner

★★★★ Charlie Brennan reluctantly agrees to go ice fishing with a neighbor to earn money for a beautiful Irish dancing dress that she wants for an upcoming competition. The small first fish she catches is unusual with glowing green eyes, like emeralds, and it speaks and promises her a wish in exchange for its freedom. She is so shocked she doesn’t even know what...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Grayling's Song'

"Grayling's Song" by Karen Cushman

★★★★ Grayling lives with her mother in a cottage in the woods and somewhat begrudgingly helps her tend the herb garden and prepare potions, tonics and remedies. Hannah, her mother, is known as a healer, helping people in exchange for whatever they can spare. But when their cottage burns, her mother is found firmly rooted to the ground like a tree. When her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Some Kind of Happiness'

"Some Kind of Happiness" by Claire Legrand

★★★★★ Finley Hart is sad. She is sad and downhearted about a lot of things, including the fact that she is being forced by her parents to spend the summer at Hart House, with grandparents and cousins whom she has never even met, while her parents try to “work things out”. To escape, she retreats into the Everwood, a forest kingdom fantasy world that she is...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Door By the Staircase'

"The Door By the Staircase" by Katherine Marsh, Kelly Murphy

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes is miserable. She is so miserable that she attempts an escape up the small, sooty stovepipe from the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies, where, as an older child, there’s literally no chance of getting adopted, especially when the head mistress dislikes you. So when an old woman with a big nose, Madame Z, shows up to adopt her, she’s...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Girl in the Well Is Me'

"The Girl in the Well Is Me" by Karen Rivers

★★★★ Being the new kid in town, eleven-year-old Kammie Summer is perhaps just trying to impress the popular girls at her new school when she accepts their dare and ends up in a deep abandoned well. It’s wet, smelly, cold, dark and scary and it hurts being cramped in there with her arms and body wedged against the sides of the well. Where are her so called new "...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: realistic

Cover: 'The Wild Robot'

"The Wild Robot" by Peter Brown

★★★★★ Roz’s life begins in a peculiar way. Washed ashore in a crate on what appears to be a deserted island, she is the lone intact survivor of a sunken cargo ship. Charged by the island sun and literally jolted to life when a sea otter reaches through her crate and accidentally pushes a button on the back of her head, Roz, a robot, opens her eyes and introduces...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Maybe a Fox'

"Maybe a Fox" by Kathi Appelt, Alison McGhee

★★★★★ On an ordinary wintry school day like so many others, while sisters twelve-year-old Sylvie and eleven-year-old Jules are waiting for the school bus, Sylvie runs into the woods and disappears. Why would she go? They were forbidden to go on this path leading to the Slip, a small geological formation in which the river bed disappears into an open cavern and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle'

"The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle" by Janet Fox

★★★★★ Amid warnings from the train stationmaster about Rookskill Castle in Scotland being peculiar, haunted, with grinding and screeching noises and rumors of kids disappearing, the Bateson children, Katherine (Kat), Robbie, Amelie, and Peter, an American boy, proceed to the castle anyway. Actually, what choice do they have? They’re kids who are sent to this...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Land of Forgotten Girls'

"The Land of Forgotten Girls" by Erin Entrada Kelly

★★★★★ Living in the shadow of her sister Amelia’s ghost, and carefully trying not to destroy the spirit of her younger sister, ever-resourceful Soledad tries desperately to give her something to believe in, even though it may be untrue. Living in almost unbearable conditions in Louisiana with their new, evil stepmother after their father deserts them soon after...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Withering-by-Sea'

"Withering-by-Sea" by Judith Rossell

★★★★★ Stella is an eleven-year-old orphan living with her three aunts in a boring, seaside mansion, the Hotel Majestic, where elderly people come to partake of the healthful waters. Her life suddenly becomes way too interesting when she witnesses a murder and finds herself on the run from the evil professor/magician Starke and his gang of men who desperately want...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Wrinkled Crown'

"The Wrinkled Crown" by Anne Nesbet

★★★★ Linny’s twelfth birthday is fast approaching and she’s being watched and protected even more than usual, lest she fall victim to an ancient curse. She is forbidden to touch a lourka instrument, but the call of music and the lourka is so irresistible that she secretly builds one. When she is compelled to play it on the eve of her birthday, her best friend...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

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: '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

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