内科・オバケ科 ホオズキ医院： 学校のオバケたいじ大作戦
by 富安陽子 （とみやす ようこ）
126 pages with frequent furigana and large and frequent pictures
The first few lines:
Both in English and in Japanese, I really like reading books where something magical or supernatural happens in the real world, so I was pretty happy when I found this book, which is part of a series in which a normal boy has to help a monster doctor deal with various monster-related problems. In this book, the monsters have entered are world and are hiding throughout his school, and he has to hunt them down without anyone finding out. Unfortunately, while I don't really have any specific complaints about the book, it wasn't as epic or as amusing or as entertaining as I'd hoped it would be, and in the end I felt kind of indifferent towards it. If someone gave me other books in the series I would definitely read them, and who knows, I might very well enjoy them. But I don't think I'll go to the effort of seeking them out myself.
by 後藤みわこ （ごとう みわこ）
227 pages with furigana on all kanji above the second grade level and frequent pictures of varying sizes.
(All apologies, it seems I didn't copy down the first few lines!)
This is a book of five stories in which a third-grade boy solves mysteries with the help (or hindrance) of his fifth-grade sister. The stories are sometimes very practical plots and sometimes they are supernatural mysteries; I really liked the mix. I didn't enjoy everything about the book - the mother of the main characters is not too bright, which kind of bugged me, and most of the characters are unrealistically nice - but overall it was cute and interesting and at an almost perfect reading level for me at the time that I read it. There are a couple other books in this series, and I could definitely see myself reading them if I found them for a good price.
by 池田美代子 （いけだ みよこ）
212 pages with frequent furigana (though less than either of the above books) and one or two pictures per chapter.
The first few lines:
The title of this book made me think that it would be entirely about trying to find the witch who has disappeared. Actually, she only "disappears" for one scene (i.e. she's not in her house) and then she almost immediately returns. So that's a little confusing, but anyway.
What this book is actually about is the three sixth-graders who visit the fortune-telling witch's home when she isn't there. They find an order form for items with very strange names. One of the children fills out the form and orders a pencil that grants wishes, not realizing that the price of the pencil is forty years of his life ...
I really enjoyed this book. Like I said, I really enjoy stories that mix fantasy with real life, and this book also included a twist on traditional Japanese youkai that was pretty interesting. I also liked the high stakes of the plot; it made it a bit more exciting than some of the other children's books I've been reading. I didn't love the climax of the book (and I was also frustrated that it seemed to be written at a higher reading level than any of the other chapters!), but overall this was still a great read. I finished it really quickly because I couldn't wait to know what happened next! :D I would definitely be interested in reading some of the author's other books.