Book Review – Children’s Book

Book Review – One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for granting my wish on Netgalley and providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book.

Now I want to remind people now that ‘One for Sorrow’ is of the “children’s fiction” genre. I wouldn’t even put it into the YA genre, more the tween (middle school in USA) genre. And I knew this when I asked to read it as, quite frankly, I loved ghost stories when I was that age and the blurb of this book reminded me of such books.

And I wasn’t disappointed!

The era the story was based in was clearly researched, and I do love the author’s note at the end explaining the inspiration for the story. Just added to the whole story and explained why the setting was so vivid.

And the ghostly hauntings were just right for the age group it is aimed at. A little hair raising, but not so scary as needing to only read it in the daylight (or in your parents room as it’s so scary) – yes, that was me as a tween (all those eons ago) when I was reading a particularly scary kid’s book. I like a scare…. But not such a scare as I couldn’t sleep in the dark. So, yeah, my teacher reading the class ‘The Triffids’ was right out! 😉

‘One for Sorrow’ was a fabulous balance of history, adventure and spine tingling scares – that weren’t so scary that the child might need to lock the book away in a drawer because it scared them too much (me again aged 9). I enjoyed it so much I am going to go hunting for more children’s ghost stories by Ms Downing Hahn and also see if I can encourage my own kids to read them. Sadly, they are not into scary books like I was. No idea where I’ve gone wrong with that area of parenting. 😉

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. My children are aged 13, 10 and 8 and I honestly do feel the older two – if they read ghost stories – would thoroughly enjoy this tale. I am going to try my electronic copy on them next time they tell me they are bored and just see how we go. But yes, I feel this book is perfect for the age group it was written for (and those who enjoy that genre but may be a tad older like me) and would indeed recommend it. Though I would emphasise the obvious – it’s a ghost story. Be prepared if you’re kids do find it too scary. I don’t think they would… but I could be wrong.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Not for myself exactly, but yes I would definitely consider ‘One for Sorrow’, and others like it by Ms Downing Hahn for my children to read. Ghost stories can be such fun when they are written well, and this one was indeed written well!


In summary: A great little ghost tale for children and children at heart who want a little scare.


Book Review – The Story of Mu by James Cordova and illustrated by Mark Morse.

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Wisdom Publications for allowing me a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

This really wasn’t just one book, it was two. One for a parent and child to share and enjoy together and learn about Zen… and then a second book for the parent alone to learn and be educated through the teachings, meaning and pictures shown in the child’s section of the book. Meaning you got an incredible amount of art, teachings and entertainment all in the one book.

I will admit here and now I am not as fully into Zen as I feel the audience of this book would be, but I enjoyed it all the same. The words and imagery were thought provoking for child and parent alike and it really did help open up a new path of learning for those interested to follow it up and learn more.

The art work was amazing and worked well with the teachings. And the teachings were well paced for adult and child alike too. It really was just one of those feel good books that not only entertained but had you thinking. And had me wanting to seek and learn more about finding this balance of life, mind and spirit.

Would I recommend this book to others?

I think I would. I really do feel it is a great book to use to introduce children to the concepts and teaching of Zen.


Would I buy this book for myself?

Maybe. But, again, I am not as fully into Zen as the audience this book is really for. I am a Pagan and my path and beliefs are on a slightly different path… and so while I found inspiration and knowledge within this book’s pages, I can’t see myself racing out and adding it to my library. Though, I do know which book to go buy if my children do start to show more of an interest in Zen.

In summary: Colourful, beautiful, uplifting and educating all in one. Quite a good mix of child and parent interaction as well as information for both generations to help them be introduced to the teachings of Zen.

Until next time,


Book Review -The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary.

The Night Parade

2 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for providing me with a free ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.

Unfortunately this book was not for me. It held a lot of promise from the blurb and cover… but I found it a rather slow paced and long winded tale that took a long time to actually get on with the story.

To give it to the book some positives – as it deserves them – I did love the setting, story concept and plot. It was well written and painted a vivid picture for the reader. It was just a slow read for me.

I do wonder if the fault lay with this particular reader? As much as I enjoy YA work… perhaps this was a little too young for me and that is where the main fault lies? Then again, I can’t see my almost eleven year old enjoying the book either as the paces was very slow and I feel she would grow bored of it and not finish. I could be wrong, but to me the slow pace really killed it for me.

From the amount of positive reviews others have given this book, I really do feel I just didn’t gel with it as much as I hoped and do hope others get more out of it if they choose to read it.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Possibly. Because of the unique setting and theme I know a lot of young girls my eldest daughter’s age who might like to give it a read as they enjoy a lot of the old Japanese tales. But I would worry they would give up half-way through as it takes so long to get anywhere… so not too sure.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Sadly no. It held a lot more promise than what it actually delivered. I commend the author and publisher for producing such a unique tale… I just wish it wasn’t so sluggish in its pace.

In summary: A well written, if not slow paced story. Possibly better suited for a younger mind as the setting, plot and descriptions deserve a big thumbs up. This book was just not for me.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander.

Surfs up

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank North South Books Inc. for an arc of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Two of my kids (the ten year old and the six year old) helped me review ‘Surf’s Up’ and so the majority of comments and score are based on their feedback.

Firstly, we all loved this book. My kids are just a bit weird about giving a top score as they feel it will stop the author from writing (I don’t know why). And I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason this book didn’t get the full 5 out of 5 stars, as they really did enjoy it.

From the ten year olds point of view (and I will add picture books aren’t usually her scene – she has the reading age of a sixteen year old) she loved it. She loved the bright colours, the fun names and the fact that a book was seen as important as a fun day down at the beach. Loved the surf talk ‘bro, dude, cowabunga’ and so on. She also enjoyed the little extras like the whale on the wave at the end.

It has also made my eldest interested in reading ‘Moby Dick’. I have advised it does not contain frogs (that I can remember) and may still be a little too heavy for her tastes. But if she wants to have a go – why not!

My six year old (who I had in mind when requesting the book) also enjoyed it. His quote was: “It is good and very funny, put that down in the review”. And so I have. He liked the frogs, the scooter ride, how one wanted an adventure on the beach and one was having an adventure in the book. He also loved the pictures, the colours and the surfer dude language.

All in all a big hit with my family.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. People with young children (and no so young children) will find this a great family read to enjoy together.

Would I buy this book for myself? I wouldn’t buy it for me personally, but I can see myself buying it for my son or as a present for a child of a similar age. It’s a fun little read for parents and kids a like.

In summary: Loved this book. Although it fits the ‘short sharp and shiny’ word content that makes up a good children’s book, it also has some great pictures, vibrant colours and fun words for the whole family to wrap their tongues around. I can see ‘bro’ and ‘dude’ becoming common phrases here now. A perfect read to not only encourage your children that reading is fun (and an adventure in itself) but a great book for here in Australia with summer just around the corner and everyone champing at the bit to get to the beach.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO