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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 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: '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

Cover: 'Wish Girl'

"Wish Girl" by Nikki Loftin

★★★★★ Unlike his boisterous, quarreling family, 12-year-old Peter Stone is quiet, thoughtful, sensitive, artistic and misunderstood. After his father loses his job and they move from the city to remote Texas Hill Country, he escapes daily to a magic lonely valley where he can be at one with nature, away from the crying and yelling.  On one of his trips to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Absolutely Truly'

"Absolutely Truly" by Heather Vogel Frederick

★★★★ Who wants to move from sunny Austin, Texas to the small, boring town of Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire where winter lasts at least 6 months of the year and there’s no mall or movie theater? Middle school student Truly Lovejoy has no choice when her family decides to move to her father’s hometown after “Black Monday,” or the day her father lost his arm in a...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Dear Hank Williams'

"Dear Hank Williams" by Kimberly Willis Holt

★★★★★ It’s the first day of school in September 1948 and Tate Ellerbee from Rippling Creek, Louisiana already has a school assignment—to find a pen pal and practice writing letters to a real person. She picks a relatively unknown country singer who she admires on the Louisiana Hayride radio show—Hank Williams. Through her wonderful letters to him we discover a...

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

Cover: 'The Question of Miracles'

"The Question of Miracles" by Elana K. Arnold

★★★★ Still mourning the recent accidental death of Sarah, her best friend, Iris and her family move from sunny California to nearly always rainy Corvallis, Oregon for a “fresh start.”  She hates the rain, hates her new school, hates her new house, but mostly hates life without her best friend. During lunch a loud burrito-chewing, doglike boy from one of her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Honest Truth'

"The Honest Truth" by Dan Gemeinhart

★★★★★ Sick of being sick, Mark runs away from home with his dog Beau, his camera, and a bag of supplies to fulfill a dream to climb to the top of Mt Rainer while he still can. His cancer’s back, but at least he won’t have to endure yet another treatment. The novel alternates between Mark’s minute-by-minute account of his adventurous journey and the intense...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans'

"A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans" by Laurence Yep

★★★★ Just two days after the funeral of her pet human, Fluffy (a.k.a. Amelia), a young girl named Winnie bursts into mournful Miss Drakes’s secret door in the basement proclaiming that she has been sent by her great-aunt Amelia so Miss Drake won't be lonely. Almost immediately, Miss Drake, who happens to be a dragon, theorizes that this seemingly obnoxious small...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights'

"The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights" by Steve Sheinkin

★★★★★ The Port Chicago 50 tells the true story of 50 black sailors who were tried for mutiny late in World War II. Port Chicago was a Navy base near San Francisco, CA, and, like other military bases in the U.S. at the time, was segregated. At Port Chicago, black sailors—who could not serve on naval vessels outside of the mess hall or laundry—loaded munitions into...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'The Witch's Boy'

"The Witch's Boy" by Kelly Barnhill

★★★★★ Ned’s father could only save one of his identical twin sons from drowning, but the people in the village agree that he saved the wrong boy. Ned is unsure of himself and stammers, yet when the Bandit King threatens to steal the magic his mother, Sister Witch, has spent her life protecting, he finds a courage he didn’t know he had.  Crossing the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Cover: 'Pluto'

"Pluto" by R. J. Palacio

★★★★★ This is another fantastic addition to the "Wonder" story, told from the viewpoint of Chris, the childhood best friend of August Pullman. Truly heartwarming, this short story adds another layer to the wonderful story surrounding a severely disfigured boy named August. Chris, the boy who grew up beside August, faced his own set of challenges being best...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'My Cousin's Keeper'

"My Cousin's Keeper" by Simon French

★★★★ At his dad’s birthday party nine-year old Kieran meets his cousin Bon whom he has never even heard of before. Bon appears to be very different from him and he doesn’t really like him.  Bon wears his blond hair in a long ponytail, wears old, tattered clothes and touches all of Kieran’s things without asking.   Two years later, Kieran sees Bon at...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Stella by Starlight'

"Stella by Starlight" by Sharon M. Draper

★★★★ It is midnight when 11 year-old Stella Mills and her eight year-old brother Jojo witness the burning of a cross by members of the Ku Klux Klan not far from their house. It’s 1932 in Bumblebee, North Carolina and news of the active Klan so close by means their parents need to alert all their African-American neighbors. Stella is practicing to be a good...

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

Cover: 'Big Bad Detective Agency'

"Big Bad Detective Agency" by Bruce Hale

★★★★ Things were going well in Fairylandia for a reformed Wolfgang, a.k.a. the “Big Bad Wolf”, until the Three Little Pigs’ houses were vandalized and he is accused.  Arrested and released, he reluctantly teams up with Ferkel, the fourth little pig, and as the new “Big Bad Detective Agency” they set off to find the perpetrator. Things get really funny when...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, humor

Cover: 'Beyond the Laughing Sky'

"Beyond the Laughing Sky" by Michelle Cuevas

★★★★ In this rather unusual tale a young couple, whose house is perched in a large pecan tree, discover a baby in a cracked egg from a bird’s nest on the sidewalk.  This human-looking baby has feathers for hair and no mouth or nose but in its place a beak. His adopted parents, sister, and the small community of Goosepimple adapt to life with him, but as he...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The War That Saved My Life'

"The War That Saved My Life" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

★★★★★ 10-year-old Ada lives with her brother Jamie and mother in a filthy, rat infested one-room flat in London. She is often abused by her mother who does not allow her to go outside because her mother is ashamed of her clubfoot. When Jamie is being shipped off with other children to the country to avoid injury from bombings during the war, Ada escapes to join...

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

Cover: 'Greenglass House'

"Greenglass House" by Kate Milford

★★★★ The old historic, creaky smugglers’ inn called Greenglass House sits high on a hill requiring guests to take a trolley type of car that gets pulled to the top. It is winter, close to the holidays, and usually free of guests so Milo, the adopted son of the innkeepers, is looking forward to a relaxing vacation. But unexpectedly the buzzer for the trolley car...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'A Snicker of Magic'

"A Snicker of Magic" by Natalie Lloyd

★★★★★ Natalie Lloyd's book is one of those rare, special books that grab you from the beginning and you don’t want to be released because the journey is quite simply, “splendiferous.” Our extremely likable narrator is Felicity Juniper Pickle, a 6th-grade girl as unique as her mother’s hometown, Midnight Gulch, where she, her mother, little sister Frannie Jo and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nightmares!'

"Nightmares!" by Jason Segel

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Charlie Laird has big problems. His mom died, his dad remarried, and now together with his younger brother Jack they must move into his new "stepmonster’s" (that’s what he calls her) odd-looking purple mansion with a tower. Positive that his new "stepmonster" is a witch, he barricades himself inside his new bedroom where he can’t sleep...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Boundless'

"The Boundless" by Kenneth Oppel

★★★★★ After three long years, teen-aged William Everett is dropped off at the train tracks in a town without a name to meet up with his father who is helping build the Canadian Pacific Railway.  The train they will be boarding is called "The Boundless" because of its size and magnificence.  After accidentally witnessing a murder and finding a train car...

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

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