Tag: 4 stars

The Devil’s Arithmetic

Author: Jane Yolen 
Published: 1988
175 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating:  4 stars

Book Description:

Hannah dreads going to her family’s Passover Seder—she’s tired of hearing her relatives talk about the past. But when she opens the front door to symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah, she’s transported to a Polish village in the year 1942. Why is she there, and who is this “Chaya” that everyone seems to think she is? Just as she begins to unravel the mystery, Nazi soldiers come to take everyone in the village away. And only Hannah knows the unspeakable horrors that await. A critically acclaimed novel from multi-award-winning author Jane Yolen.

Kim’s Review:

My mom gave me this book and it fit perfectly into my Holocaust fiction kick. It’s a small, thin book and it only took me about an hour to read. It’s simple and uncomplicated and I think would be good for middle school Holocaust education. The only thing I didn’t really like about it was the “time travel” element. I get why Yolen put it in there, and it was good that Hannah “experienced” a lot of the things that she heard her grandparents and aunts and uncles talked about. And I have a feeling that middle schoolers would be far more accepting of fantastic details like that, it just really wasn’t my cup of tea. But other than that, I really liked this book.

I think it would be a great educational tool and it identified a major problem with our current education/youth culture. So many kids don’t care about the Holocaust or learning about it and they tend to either ignore or to sweep it under the rug. This book lays out in simple, yet meaningful detail, the circumstances faced by so many in the camps during those years under Nazi rule. I liked it very much and I would recommend it to anyone who likes slightly fantastic historical fiction and absolutely to any middle schooler.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK



A Spooky Tale: A Walk with Our Teacher by Sue Wickstead

In the spirit of Halloween, I am sharing about this children’s book today.  Though not ‘scary’, young kids will love this one!

Author: Sue Wickstead
Published: October 10, 2017
40 pages

Book Description:

When the teacher decided to take the class out on a walk the children did not want to go…
What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
Why did the class not feel well?
Read the book to find out.

A fictional tale based on a real class walk around the neighbourhood. Where would your walk take you?

I will be sharing a mini-review of sorts for this children’s book:

Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

This short picture book is one that younger kids will love.  They will quickly turn the pages to see what the class runs into next!  I found myself wondering what creature they will meet in their walk.  It is a fun, quick to read picture book, but not scary at all.

The illustrations are very well done.  I read this on a kindle paperwhite, so I didn’t get to experience the pictures in color. I can imagine how bright they are in color. 

Do yourself a favor and buy your young kids this one; they will surely enjoy it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author:

Have you ever been on a Playbus?

Not an ordinary bus taking you on a journey, exciting though this is, but a bus stuffed full of toys and imagination!

When my two children were young, they attended a playgroup on such a bus and as a volunteer I became involved with the committee running the project. The bus really got into my blood and became a work of the heart. I ended up painting the bus as well as working in the groups and raising the profile of the project and its work. As part of the committee and later as a play-worker, I was involved in raising necessary funds to replace the old bus with a newer project. It really was a fun journey to be involved in.

I taught in the local school for over 20 years but during this time I remained involved with all aspects of the playbus project in my spare time, assisting in fund-raising events, as well as working voluntarily in after school play clubs and holiday play schemes.

I left teaching to write the history book about the original bus.

I now work as a supply cover teacher and have been able to tell the many children I meet and teach about the bus as well as show them the photograph. The children were always curious and asked lots of questions about the playbus. This led to me telling a story which I eventually wrote down.

Jay-Jay is the fictional story to go with the factual project.

Over the last few years I have been able to share the fictional story in each school I visit. I always leave a book behind as I go in case they might like a closer look.

I have also been asked by the schools I’ve worked in to provide some work for the children around the book. This has led to me producing a scheme of worksheets to support the story.

In addition, I have undertaken author bookings and I always love sharing the story book and most of all love the feedback and book reviews which the children give me. Many of their comments and opinions I have been able to use on my website blogs.

I have other book ideas in draft or indeed still in the telling but for now I can turn my attention to the next part of my bus journey!

Contact Sue:
Twitter @JayJayBus


Sunday Series Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Series by Paige McKenzie

Today the Sunday Series Review is back: Again, in time for Halloween, today Kim reviews The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Series by Paige McKenzie!

Books in the Series:
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
March 24, 2015
296 Pages

Something freaky’s going on with Sunshine’s new house… there’s the chill that wraps itself around her bones, the giggling she can hear in the dead of night, and then the strange shadows that lurk in her photographs. But the more weird stuff that happens, the less her mom believes her. Sunshine’s always had a quirky affiliation with the past, but this time, history is getting much too close for comfort…

If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can’t help them?

As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

The first in a frighteningly good new series based on the popular YouTube sensation The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Network, created by Paige McKenzie.

The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
March 1, 2016
296 Pages

Sunshine Griffith can communicate with ghosts. Even more amazing, she recently discovered—with the help of her would-be boyfriend, Nolan—that she’s a luiseach, one of an ancient race of creatures who have lived among humans for centuries, protecting them from dark spirits and helping them move on to the afterlife. Now, Sunshine’s powers are awakening and she feels spirits everywhere—intense and sometimes overwhelming.

Eager to get her supernatural abilities under control, Sunshine agrees to begin training with her mentor, her estranged father Aidan. He takes her to an abandoned compound deep in the Mexican jungle. But what she learns there about her powers, and her family history, turns out to be more terrifying than Sunshine could have imagined. Can anything—Aidan’s experiments, her friendship with another luiseach named Lucio, even Nolan’s research—prepare Sunshine to face the frightening woman who haunts her dreams, and to finally learn the truth about the rift that threatens the future of the luiseach and all of humankind?

The stakes grow ever higher in this sequel to The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, revealing that Sunshine has to protect more than her own friends and family—she may be the key to saving the entire human race.

The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl
April 4, 2017
322 Pages

Sunshine Griffith can communicate with ghosts. Even more amazing—to herself; her boyfriend, Nolan; and her adoptive mom, Kat—she’s recently learned she’s a luiseach, one of an ancient race of creatures who have lived among humans for centuries, protecting them from dark spirits and helping them move on to the afterlife.

Having survived an abyss full of demons, Sunshine Griffith must figure out who—or what—has been organizing the forces of darkness against her. Do they want to destroy her and the rest of the endangered luiseach? Do they want to take over the world? Nolan has figured out that Sunshine’s death would trigger a calamitous event, so not only does she have to stay alive for herself, but for the fate of civilization. It’s not just the demons who want Sunshine dead, though. Her biological mother, Helena, is back. And what is Helena’s history with the mysterious man in black?

Fortunately for Sunshine, she has a lot of people (and ghosts) to help her stop the darkness: Nolan, her father and mentor Aidan, her mom Kat, Victoria, Lucio, Anna, and Ashley—whose handsome new crush, Sebastian, seems hauntingly familiar. But time may be running out as an unexpected event unleashes a fierce war between the luiseach and the demon army. In the midst of the fiery battle, Sunshine will learn a shocking truth about herself and what sort of sacrifice is required to save the world.

Kim’s Rating of the Series: 4 Stars

Kim’s Review of the Series:

I bought The Haunting of Sunshine Girl two years ago during my creepy book stage. I read it and loved it. Unfortunately, the first two times I read it, once when I first bought it and again when I bought The Awakening of Sunshine Girl, I easily forgot it because I skimmed it. Thankfully I have matured in my reading and, as they say, third time’s the charm! I really love this series!

Sunshine is one of those rare, mature teens who fits in better with adults than she does with kids her own age. The one teen she does get along with best is Nolan, who is also a mature teen. And what’s really nice about this series is that its not full of teenage drama. Yes, Sunshine’s relationship with Nolan and later with Lucio gets a little complicated, but never does it get annoying. I love how she considers her mom to be her best friend, aside from her actual teenage best friend, Ashley. All I could think was, “oh good, I’m not the only one who has Mom as her best friend!” And strangely enough, Ashley became one of my favorite characters by the end of the series! She is the typical, boy-crazy, shallow teenager, but she’s so funny and loveable and cute that I started liking her very quickly!

The story is unique and not just a rehash of every other YA book out there. Sure, there are some similarities, but nothing too obvious. Considering that this series is considered fantasy, it’s actually very realistic. Overall, McKenzie did a great job of writing a continuous, fascinating story with great characters and interesting settings. This series is perfect for middle and high schoolers, not too much language and not too scary. A great series!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US:

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl

Amazon UK:
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl