Tag: middle grades

Book Review: Took: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Took: A Ghost Story
Author:
Mary Downing Hahn
Published: September 15, 2015
272 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

“Folks say Old Auntie takes a girl and keeps her fifty years—then lets her go and takes another one.”

Thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson doesn’t believe Brody Mason’s crazy stories about the ghost witch who lives up on Brewster’s Hill with Bloody Bones, her man-eating razorback hog. He figures Brody’s probably just trying to scare him since he’s the new kid . . . a “stuck-up snot” from Connecticut. But Daniel’s seven-year-old sister Erica has become more and more withdrawn, talking to her lookalike doll. When she disappears into the woods one day, he knows something is terribly wrong.

Did the witch strike? Has Erica been “took”?

Kim’s Review:

Another excellent horror story from Hahn! This one was a little more complicated than her others and thankfully didn’t have an obnoxious child that makes you want to just give them up to whatever evil being is around! Creepy dolls, a witch, a man-boar and some twists and turns and you have Took. It’s a simple enough story, but with complicated themes and feelings and that’s what I liked about it. And as usual, I was creeped out through the whole thing. This is another great one for kids who prefer the scarier reads!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: The Girl in the Locked Room by Mary Downing Hahn

The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story
Author:  Mary Downing Hahn

Published:
200 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

A family moves into an old, abandoned house. Jules’s parents love the house, but Jules is frightened and feels a sense of foreboding. When she sees a pale face in an upstairs window, though, she can’t stop wondering about the eerie presence on the top floor—in a room with a locked door. Could it be someone who lived in the house a century earlier?

Her fear replaced by fascination, Jules is determined to make contact with the mysterious figure and help unlock the door. Past and present intersect as she and her ghostly friend discover—and change—the fate of the family who lived in the house all those many years ago.

Kim’s Review:

Not my favorite of her books. Normally she goes all out with the scary, even though she’s writing for kids. This one was just … weird. Ok, it has a ghost but then Hahn throws in some science fiction stuff about alternate realities and there’s kinda sorta time travel but not really. As a kids story, it was ok. As a ghost story, eh; I prefer my ghosts to be scary. As a horror story,  it was no good. I wasn’t scared. I doubt anyone who reads it would be scared. The characters are ok, nothing really stands out about them. Oak Hill is fabulous but other than a few descriptions, it doesn’t even play a big part in the story. This book was just alright. Sure, I’d give it to a kid to read, but I wouldn’t expect an adult to get much out of it.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Book Review; Ground Zero: A Story of 9/11 by Alan Gratz

Ground Zero: A Novel of 9/11
Author: Alan Gratz

Published:  February 2, 2021
336 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 29- September 4, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

It’s September 11, 2001. Brandon, a 9-year-old boy, goes to work for the day with his dad . . . at the World Trade Center in New York City. When two planes hit the towers, Brandon and his father are trapped inside a fiery nightmare as terror and confusion swirl around them. Can they escape — and what will the world be like when they do?

In present-day Afghanistan, Reshmina is an 11-year-old girl who is used to growing up in the shadow of war, but she has dreams of peace and unity. When she ends up harboring a wounded young American soldier, she and her entire family are put in mortal danger. But Reshmina also learns something surprising about the roots of this endless war.

Jessica’s Review:

It just seems hard to believe that it has been 20 years since 9/11 happened and our world changed forever.  It’s even harder to believe that there are those who will not have a memory of it and will just learn about it in the history books. Ground Zero by Alan Gratz is a book every middle schooler must read. Really everyone out there must read. 

We have two time periods with two children the focus: 9-year-old Brandon on September 11, 2019 and 11-year-old Reshmina on September 11, 2019.  The same day 18 years apart that end up being connected together.  Brandon was suspended from school and is going to work with his father as dad cannot afford to take time off of work.  Where Dad works is Windows on the World- a restaurant on the 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center…  Reshmina and her twin brother Pasoon live in a small village in Afganistan and nearby there is a battle and Reshmina finds herself helping an injured American solider thus possibly putting her family and village in terrible danger.

Initially, I was more interested in Brandon’s story of experiencing that day from inside one of the towers, But soon I became just as entranced with Reshmina’s story. And when a common connection is realized, the reader feels so much more emotion.  The short chapters alternate between Brandon and Reshmina and they each tend to end on cliff hangers which keep you reading.

Ground Zero is a powerful novel that brings back memories and emotions of that day. There is a 14-page author’s note that must be read as well.  The author explains that there are a few liberties made for the story- but this is historical fiction and not non-fiction.

Gratz mentioned he tried to write a novel about 9/11 but it was never right for him. This novel was published earlier this year, in time for the 20th anniversary and I think it came at the perfect time. We must never forget what happened on that day 20 years ago and share the history for future generations, while Reshmina’s story shows what happens if events are never told.”

Though Ground Zero is written for the middle grades age group, everyone must read this book. Even both the front and back covers can bring out emotions. The front showing the destruction of the towers with a boy standing there and the back showing a picture of the twin towers before 9/11.   

Ground Zero is very highly recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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