Review – Martha Mayhem and the Witch From the Ditch – Joanne Owen

Martha May is always causing chaos. That’s why she’s been nicknamed Martha Mayhem. In this, the first in a series of Martha books, there is plenty of chaos. It all starts when Martha meets a witch in a ditch. Soon after, Martha accidentally unleashes a ghoul that has been locked in a gatepost. Once unleashed the ghoul causes all kinds of frantic trouble, while Martha, her best friend Jack (who’s a big of a joker) and her grandpa try to recapture the ghoul.

The book very much reminded me of a Roald Dahl book in the way it was written. It is paced in a similar way and uses many of Dahl’s structures. As with Dahl, it is supported by excellent illustrations – in this case from the wonderful Tony Ross. It has a feel of the kind of children’s book a 7-year-old would love. Indeed the humour is definitely geared towards that audience. I can imagine some children rolling about with laughter at the escapades of the ghoul and with Jack’s jokes.

Since reading the book, something has been niggling away at me. There seemed to be a bit of a mismatch in the target audience. From reading, I instantly thought the story line was aimed at those aged around 7 years. However, the language used in places could cause readers a few years older problems. I was surprised then to find out that the book is targeted at the 5-7 age group.

Thinking about it, I do agree that as a read-aloud bedtime story, this would be great in for 5-7 year olds. I can imagine a parent and child snuggled up, laughing at the escapades. Perhaps this is where the strength of the book lies, not as an independent read but as a book to be read and loved together.

If you like this, why not try: Greta Zargo or Spectre Collectors

Pages: 232 pages
Age Recommendation: 7-9
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
ISBN: 9781848125360

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