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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: 'Fly Away'

"Fly Away" by Patricia MacLachlan

★★★★★ Newbery award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan has done it again. She has written an easy-to-read story for children with sparse, well-chosen words and conversation that eloquently speaks volumes on what it means to be a family. Lucy is traveling with her mother, father, sister Gracie and her little brother Teddy in a beat-up Volkswagen bus to her Aunt...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms'

"Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms" by Katherine Rundell

★★★★★ Will (Wihelmina) loves her wonderful, wild life on the hot, dusty African farm where she is free to roam, climb trees and play with her best friend Simon and numerous animals all day long. Unfortunately her idyllic life comes to an abrupt halt after her father dies from malaria and her father’s friend and new guardian Captain Browne marries a heartless...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story'

"The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story" by R. J. Palacio

★★★★★ This is a fantastic addition to the book Wonder, the incredible story about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a unique face. In Wonder, readers had a glimpse into the viewpoints of several characters in Auggie's world, except for the bully himself: Julian. Now readers finally get a chance to experience Julian's point of view, and learn why he hated Auggie so...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Rain Reign'

"Rain Reign" by Ann M. Martin

★★★★★ The likable narrator of this book, fifth-grader Rose Howard, sees homonyms everywhere and obsessively collects them. Her mother is gone (she doesn't know exactly where) so she lives with her impatient father, is strict about her own (and everyone’s) rules, and has a diagnosis: high functioning autism or Aspergers. When her beloved adopted dog, Rain,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, differing abilities

Cover: 'The Thickety: A Path Begins'

"The Thickety: A Path Begins" by J. A. White, Andrea Offermann

★★★★★ Witchcraft and magic are denounced as evil, feared and banned on this island colony that is surrounded by a strange forbidden forest with feared creatures known as the Dark Wood or Thickety.  At only 5 years old Kara along with her newborn brother Taff witness the hanging death of their mother who was proclaimed a witch and their lives radically change...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Missing Pieces of Me'

"The Missing Pieces of Me" by Jean Van Leeuwen

★★★★★ Weezie (Grace Louise) lives with her mother and step brother Jackson and step sister Ruth Ann in a trailer court and dreams of finding a father she knows nothing about. Still grieving after the recent death of her grandmother who loved and understood her, she desperately tries to please her overworked mother who often calls her a bad girl and whom it seems...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Forbidden Library'

"The Forbidden Library" by Django Wexler

★★★★★ After overhearing an insect-like black fairy in the kitchen arguing with her father, Alice is informed that her father is dead and she is ordered to go and live with Geryon, an unknown uncle who has a massive library which she is forbidden to enter and also not to read any books inside it. Ashes, a talking cat who admits to being only half a cat, sneaks her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Hook's Revenge'

"Hook's Revenge" by Heidi Schulz

★★★★★ Jocelyn has piracy and adventure in her blood so why did her grandfather send her to an all-too-pink finishing school for girls? Because she is the daughter of the notorious pirate Captain James Hook, that’s why. After receiving a posthumous letter from her father requesting her to avenge his death and destroy the infamous crocodile that took his life,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Witch's Boy'

"The Witch's Boy" by Kelly Barnhill

★★★★★ Ned and his parents live in a small village at the edge of a dark and mysterious wood. His mother is a witch and his father is a woodcutter. Ned has never been the same since the day his twin brother died and he lived. He never speaks, and if he does, it is with a terrible stutter. The villagers all make fun of him and think him useless. The only thing the...

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

Cover: 'My Brother's Shadow'

"My Brother's Shadow" by Tom Avery

★★★★ Eleven-year-old Kaia is frozen in time, a horrendous, unimaginable time; the day she found her brother Moses in his bloody bed, dead.  Her mother, who has lost her job, numbs herself with booze, Kaia with not talking, withdrawing from everyone at school where she’s known as "the freak", not even daring to read any books at a higher reading level than...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dragon on Trial'

"Dragon on Trial" by Tui T. Sutherland, Kari Sutherland

★★★ After rescuing a griffin in the first book, ”The Menagerie”, Logan is officially accepted as a member of the secret menagerie that cares for mythical creatures. This time the crisis involves the disappearance and presumed murder of Pelly, the goose who lays the golden eggs. Snatch, a dragon in the menagerie, is blamed, but Logan and his friend Zoe are sure...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'A Horse Called Hero'

"A Horse Called Hero" by Sam Angus

★★★★ It’s wartime and London is no longer safe so Dodo and Wolfie, along with many other children, are forced to go and live with a family in the country. Their mother is dead and their father is off fighting in the war.  Wolfie, who has dreamed of owning a horse, finds an abandoned, orphaned silver foal who is near death, names him Hero, and nurses him...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Girl with the Silver Eyes'

"The Girl with the Silver Eyes" by Willo Davis Roberts

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Katie Welker knows that she’s different in more ways than just having those unusual silver eyes which freak other people out. She can move things just by thinking about them and read the minds of cats, but what else might she be capable of.  After she discovers that her mother took a drug while she was pregnant that was later removed from...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Lizzy Bennet's Diary'

"Lizzy Bennet's Diary" by

★★★★★ Inspired by Jane Austen’s classic novel, “Pride and Prejudice”, we can easily believe that Elizabeth Bennet just might have written this diary.  It is a fun re-imagining of Lizzy Bennet’s world through her eyes with realistic journal entries and cute drawings and captions filling each page. But it’s the realistic invitations, notes, and letters glued...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, classics

Cover: 'A Dog Called Homeless'

"A Dog Called Homeless" by Sarah Lean

★★★★★ A year after her mother’s death, Cally sees her mother at the cemetery but no one will believe her. Worse yet, no one wants her to talk about her mother. She continues to see her mother often along with a friendly wolfhound and an elderly homeless man. She volunteers to not talk for a day at school to help raise money for a children’s hospice home and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing'

"The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing" by Sheila Turnage

★★★★ The Desperado Detectives are back! This time, Mo and Dale set out to uncover a ghostly mystery: the murder of Nellie Blake and her haunting of the Tupelo Inn. When Miss Lana accidently purchases the inn at an auction, Mo wants her to turn it into a successful business. But who would want to visit the haunted inn with Nellie creating havoc? This is a great...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Three Times Lucky'

"Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage

★★★★★ Mo LoBeau got lucky when she was a baby; she survived a hurricane her mother left her in and wound up in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. Orphaned, Mo made her own family with the Colonel, a quirky man with amnesia who found her after the hurricane, and Miss Lana, an eccentric café hostess. Mo helps out at the café with her best friend Dale, attends the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Hope Is A Ferris Wheel'

"Hope Is A Ferris Wheel" by Robin Herrera

★★★★ Star Mackie has every reason in the world to give up. She lives with her mother and sister Winter in a pinkish trailer with a plastic flamingo glued to the top. She has never met her father or even received a card from him. She starts an Emily Dickinson Poetry Club to meet friends in her new school. In her weeks of assigned vocabulary sentences (which she...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nightingale's Nest'

"Nightingale's Nest" by Nikki Loftin

★★★★★ The music he heard was like nothing he had ever heard before; it was like magic. Twelve-year-old John Fischer is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business when he meets a foster child, Gayle, the bird-like girl with the beautiful voice of a nightingale. When they become friends he discovers that her singing helps heal his body...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Real Boy'

"The Real Boy" by Anne Ursu

★★★★★ The massive walls around the protected island city of Asteri writhe with enchantment.  The wizards’ powerful magic protects the city from illness and harm.  A devastating worldwide plague many years ago killed numerous people from the island. “The boy”, Oscar, works as a lowly “Hand” for Caleb, the most powerful magician in the city. His job is to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Winter of the Robots'

"The Winter of the Robots" by Kurtis Scaletta

★★★★★ It’s science fair time but Jim’s best friend Oliver always wants to build robots so he chooses a girl partner named Rocky.   He “borrows” cameras from his father’s security business and places them in a hidden junkyard in an attempt to study otters for their project.  They don’t find any otters, but discover strange noises and movement coming from...

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

Cover: 'Get Into Art People'

"Get Into Art People" by Susie Brooks

★★★★★ Get Into Art People features twelve famous artists with distinct styles. Each section includes a full page reproduction of the artist’s work with information about the artist and his/her technique. The genius here is a fold out page with an accompanying project that incorporates the artist’s work. The book ends with a glossary and materials list. The book...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction, art

Cover: 'Rooftoppers'

"Rooftoppers" by Katherine Rundell

★★★★★ Charles, an eccentric, erudite bachelor with a heart full of love finds a baby floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel. He takes her home, names her Sophie, and notifies the proper authorities who reluctantly agree to let him keep her.  Charles and Sophie have a wonderful life together until she turns 12 when the National...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy'

"Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Opehlia Jane Worthington-Whittard is an extraordinary 11 year old girl; she just doesn’t know it yet.  Accepting a last-minute job offer to curate a sword exhibit at a museum in a foreign city, Ophelia’s father believes that this is just the change of scenery his daughters need after the recent death of their mother.  The plan is for Ophelia and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'A Tale of Two Castles'

"A Tale of Two Castles" by Gail Carson Levine

★★★★★ Twelve year old Elodie is forced to leave her family and her island home of Lahnt, to sail to the town of Two Castles and begin a new life.  Stuck in Two Castles without any money to immediately follow her dream of being an actor, she is transported into the lair of a brilliant dragon, Meenore, who offers to employ her as his paid assistant, even...

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

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