by Kierin Meehan
La Jolla, Calif. : Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2009
(originally published in Australia 2001)
Hannah is a 12-year-old redhead from Australia. Her mother has dumped her with family friends in Kanazawa, Japan while she tours the country getting information for her next book. Hannah would much rather be home with her dad and going to school with her friends. However, her mother decided this would be the perfect opportunity to improve her Japanese language skills. Resigned to make a go of it, Hannah settles into the household. She quickly makes friends with Miki, the daughter, which is a good thing considering they immediately get drawn into a ghostly mystery. It all began when Miki's father received a box of old paper stuff at his shop. The girls find a box with old paper toys and a riddle about an ocean boy. When the riddle starts mirroring their daily life they begin to take it seriously.The girls friendship strengthens as they dodge flying donuts, slosh through the snow to visit obscure shrines and visit with the keeper of old frogs.
This was a nice little mystery, ghost story, international friendship book. It was nothing super fantastic, but would appeal to upper elementary girls who like ghosts and mysteries. However, the cover is going to be a big drawback. The cover is nice and artistically pleasing, if it were and adult novel. Young girls will not be drawn to it, and the especially will not be thinking it is a ghostly mystery story. Hopefully the paperback will have a more appropriate cover so I can get the girls that come to the library to read it.