Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Reviewed by Jordan Willis (age 16) for Reader Reviews (6/17)
“Sammy and the Headless Horseman” by Rona Arato is a youth book about an eleven-year-old boy from Poland named Sammy, and his adventures at the Pine Grove hotel in the Catskill Mountains of New York. While Sammy is there, he befriends Adam, a fellow employee at the hotel. Sammy learns of the local ghost stories and decides to investigate. After hearing the mysterious hermit’s complaints and seeing the Headless Horseman with his own eyes, he decides to help the hermit by investigating. Together, Sammy and Adam piece together clues and work to solve the mystery.
This entertaining youth detective story really captivated me. Sammy’s task to solve the mystery kept me on my toes. I personally love the Headless Horseman legend, and I believe that the author, Rona Arato, did an excellent job at representing Washington Irving’s classic novel “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
The chilling atmosphere of this book is in keeping with the ghost story genre, and the author’s imagery compelled me to continue reading. I liked the fact that Arato included the Yiddish language and various aspects of the Jewish culture. When the author described Sammy’s background and the things he went through, she did an excellent job at giving me a mental image and sense of what Sammy was feeling at the time. This made it easy to understand and sympathize with Sammy’s thoughts and emotions.
I found the diverse personalities of the characters very intriguing, as well as the characters’ accurate behaviors for the time period, including their perspectives. There were not many things that I didn’t like about this book, however, I felt the comedy scenes were a bit cheesy and there were so many of them that they lost their effectiveness.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading “Sammy and the Headless Horseman.” Rona Arato did an excellent job at writing this book at the appropriate reading level for the target audience. This book is perfect for light readers because the plot isn’t too complicated and it is easy to follow. Although I am sixteen, I do believe that this book would appeal to 12-14 year olds and would highly recommend it to young readers.