When the folks at Candlewick Press offered to help me host a giveaway of The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy, it didn’t take me long to say yes! In our family we love Halloween-themed books, and we love finding well-written girl characters.
[The giveaway is closed (Nikki won!), but read on for more about this great series!]
Mildred’s not a bad kid, but things just don’t seem to go right for her at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches! Partly bad luck, partly because she’s a not-stuffy kid at a rather stuffy school, and partly because the teacher’s pet doesn’t like her. But she has two things going for her: a good heart, and a loyal best friend. Now if she could just avoid turning anyone else into a pig…
The Worst Witch is recommended for Grades 3-6 (ages 8-12) but I knew from reading it myself that seven year old Boy Detective would be fine with it. So I read the first chapter out loud to him at bedtime… and then the second chapter, because he had to know what happened when Mildred got her kitten.
After he was in bed, my husband looked at me and said “So what do you think of that book?” I said “It feels like a younger kid Harry Potter, in a good way.” He agreed completely. It has the magic, the school, and the friendship, but without the tragedies and dark foreboding.
Murphy wrote the book when she was only 18, and I was struck by how easy it was to read aloud. The prose is smooth and has an understated humor we really enjoyed. Murphy says “I write as I speak, which is the best way to tell a story.” And it’s true, I felt like I was storytelling more than reading while sharing her story with my kiddo. The small illustrations every few pages were just enough to help him stay oriented while I was reading, since he’s mostly used to picture books, comics, and heavily illustrated chapter books. You can even read the first chapter of The Worst Witch online to try it out for yourself.