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 – 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