Review Blog

Jun 18 2009

The Witch's children go to school by Ursula Jones and Russell Ayto

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Orchard Books, 2009. ISBN 9781408300725
(Ages 5-7) Recommended. It's Gemma's first day at school and at the school gates she meets the Witch's children, who assure her that she has nothing to worry about even though the Grade 3 children are frightening her. The eldest of the witch's children changes Gemma into an ogre because ogres are not afraid of anyone. The ogre doesn't like everyone being afraid of her but the Eldest can't change her back and then the Middle One uses her magic to change the school into a story book and the Little One changes the school inspector into a smelly cheese. Things are looking very chaotic but all turns out well as Mum comes to the rescue.
Written and illustrated by an award winning team (The witch's children and the Queen won the Nestle Children's Book Prize), this is a delightful story to read aloud, and could lead to many discussions about the fears children have about coming to school for the first time. What fun to imagine that scary Class 3 are Ali Baba and the forty thieves and that the whole school can change into a story book complete with dancing princesses and a puss with boots that are too large. There is also a sense of security and relief to know that an adult can come along and sort things out - even if she is a witch.
Russel Ayto's illustrations are quirky and mischievous fun jumps out from every page. Young readers will be sure to enjoy this book, both to listen to and as a first book to read independently.
Pat Pledger.

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