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Mama Reviews Samphire Song

January 11, 2013

Mama’s Note: My daughter and I are embarking upon a series of reviews together. This entry represents the first in the series: Samphire Song.

Title: Samphire Song
Author: Jill Hucklesby
Format(s): Hardcover and Kindle
Price: $16.99 and $6.99 respectively
Publishing date: Expected March 2013
Age: 9-13, Grades: 4-8
Pages: 304

Plot Summary: A young teen, Jodie, is dealing with major issues in life: the death of her father two years before, and the chronic illness of her beloved younger brother. In what amounts to equine therapy, Jodie is able to indulge in a long-held dream and purchase a horse. The two bond, until tragedy strikes, and Jodie is forced to sell Samphire.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so let me set up my reaction to the book by divulging a bit about myself. When I was a child, I was not allowed to watch the TV show Lassie. I couldn’t handle “mild animal peril” and would just freak out and cry thus Lassie was banned. At seven, I was dragged kicking and screaming out of the theater showing Disney’s Bambi during “The Scene With Bambi’s Mom.” As an adult, I lost it for a good 45 minutes over “Uncle Elizabeth” in the movie I Remember Mama (in all fairness, I was severely PMS-ing!).

So, I have to tell you, I started crying shortly after beginning Samphire Song. I cried, and cried, and cried so much it was embarrassing — and really never stopped crying until I was done with the book. My kids know about my waterworks, and it’s somewhat of a family joke (as it was with my mom growing up!). At one point my youngest came in, took one look at me, smiled and said, “Sad book, Mama?”

The Good: The book is wonderful. It hits so many themes: love (of family, of pet, of dreams realized), sacrifice, loss, need, crippling fears, single parenting, friendship and so much more! It is written in a warm style, with believable dialog and characters.

The Bad: It’s intense. My 11-year-old didn’t have the reaction I did, but some kids who are very sensitive will. The book discusses parental death, a child whose health is in jeopardy, and animal cruelty.

The Ugly: The book graphically depicts animal cruelty. It doesn’t last horribly long, but it is very graphic and very intense. It is not gratuitous, but it is hard to read through. The younger brother is a hoot, and the humorous banter helps break up the intensity.

Overall, I think it is a well-written book that tells a great story. I think it will engage those who love animals, particularly horse-lovers (my daughter is in the mini-horse project in 4-H). The female protagonist will appeal to girls, and the brother, Ed, may well draw in male readers, thus I wouldn’t say it’s “just” a “girl’s book.” Due to the mature themes, I might question the decision to let a 9-year-old (the minimum suggested age) read this, unless the child is exceptionally mature.

For my daughter’s take on the book, she has written a review on her own blog: Swim Girl Reviews Samphire Song



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