I highly recommend the Janome Sew Mini. I am an experienced seamstress, and have a really nice Singer computerized machine. I wanted a little machine that I could take to my craft table, and not have to use my big machine, so I got the Sew Mini.
The great thing about it for inexperienced sewers is, it is not a variable speed machine. Which is to say, when you push on the pedal to make it go, it sews only one speed, no matter how hard you push. It is a nice, kind of slow speed, but does the job.
My daughter had always been leery of sewing with a machine, because she felt like it "ran away with her" if you know what I mean. It went either too fast when she stepped on the pedal, or too slow. So the single speed is a very good feature I think for beginners.
You can find it at Hancocks and it's on sale quite a bit. I would also recommend taking a look at the wonderful tutorials for the Janome Sew Mini by our very own Gina K. She walks you through everything you need to know to use the machine. Here is a link to the first one in the series:
A Day in the Life: Janome Sewing Tutorial 1- The Bobbin