It’s been too long since I’ve had my kids come on here to review a children’s book. Part of this is because I’m reading Brandon Mull’s five-book series Fablehaven with the two older boys, and that has taken us most of the year (we’ve got five chapters left!), but that’s a bad excuse. After all, we still have our four-year-old, Calvin, and he loves children’s books. Turns out he’s quite an excellent reviewer as well! My wife and Calvin recently finished reading Otfried Preussler’s The Little Witch (1958), and they are going to share their thoughts below.
But before I let them take this away, I want to share a few of my own thoughts, since I sat down a bit ago to read some of the book to him. We started with chapter one, though he was already almost finished with the whole book. Each time we finished a chapter, he told me to keep going, keep going — and I wanted to. Before I knew it, we’d read half of the approximately 100 pages of the book. The story of a little witch, a mere 127 years old, trying to be a “good witch” so she can join in the celebration of Walpurgis Night with the older witches, is a lot of fun, and Preussler’s understated, often blackly hued humor was a delight. The New York Review of Book Children’s Collection has published three of his books (The Little Witch, The Little Water Sprite, and Krabat and the Sorcerer’s Mill) with another on its way for 2016 (The Robber Hotzenplotz), and I can’t wait to dig into more with my kids. I know Calvin is on board . . . but I’ll let my wife and him tell you themselves.
A short note from Mrs. Mookse: This book was pretty perfect for a little guy who is still mostly into the picture book scene. Each chapter was short, but still consisted of a full vignette. Most, if not all, had a picture to at least hint at the climax in the chapter. These were fun but also very helpful for Calvin to ground himself to what was going on in the story. While by the end he’d forgotten a lot of the specific events (but could recall them all with a little prompting), he had a really firm grasp of the characters of the Little Witch, Abraxus the Raven, and the wicked Aunt Rumpumpel. Actually, even though the latter was mostly just a mention every few chapters, he was very aware of Aunt Rumpumpel.
Did you like The Little Witch?
What did you like the best about it?
She wanted to give her a cow’s tail?
Do you mean a donkey snout?
No, a cow’s tail.
Oh So, if you had magic powers what would you do?
Give you a nice funny coat that will be just right for you.
I like that idea. Can you tell me what happened in the story? The little witch wasn’t supposed to be at the party for Walpurgis Night, right? But did they find her there?
What did they do to her?
They threw her in the fire and told her she couldn’t come back until she was a good witch.
Who was trying to hurt her?
Uhmmm, Aunt Rumpumple.
Right, the storm witch. So, the little witch had to do a lot of spells. Remember, she did the spell where the man had to carry her and the one that made it so the guy would not get cold. Which was your favorite?
The one where the guy wouldn’t get cold, because his toes were getting cold! She did it, so Abraxus [her friendly Raven] teased her about it.
Did people like the little witch, or were they scared of her?
They were scared of her. Until she did her spell and then they liked her.
Would you say this was a good book or a bad book?
A bad book, because they had a snowman and they were mean to those boys.
Yeah, that’s true, but did you like the book?
No. Because, it was . . . because I . . . I hated when they knocked over that snowman!
Yeah, but then the little witch stopped them, so did you like the book?
Would you tell others to read it?
If someone asked what the book was about, what would you say?
Do you remember how old she is?
Uhhhhh. How old is the little witch?
She would say, hello, you are 127 and I would say, “No!! I’m four! You are 127!”
There you have it, folks. He might think it’s a bad book, and he might hate — hate! — the part where they knock over the snowman, but in the end Calvin recommends The Little Witch! Mrs. Mookse and I do too.