We have family in England that sometimes send the children British books that I hadn’t really known very much about; in the last few years they sent us The Worst Witch, but it hadn’t really caught the kids attention. I knew that it had been a television series and that there were several books, but wasn’t super familiar with the series as well. It seemed like a good candidate for us to review together, after offering to read it aloud to my littles. I quite liked it and the kids were happy to listen, but it certainly seemed of a piece with the British boarding school media we are already quite familiar with. It is set in a boarding school for witches; one little witch is subject to bullying from both schoolmates and the teachers; disaster ensues with redemption at the end. None of it was particularly revolutionary but it was easy to read and quite short.
llp: So, LLJ, you said it reminded you of Harry Potter. This book was published in 1974, so is much older than Harry Potter.
LLJ: Maybe it was the other way round then, that Harry Potter was like The Worst Witch. It was hard to read for the first few chapters until it got exciting, just like in Harry Potter.
LLS: I remember when I started to read it myself the first time, I couldn’t finish it because the first couple of chapters were boring to me, but once you got to the middle of the book, it was pretty good.
llp: Who was your favourite character?
LLJ: I guess Mildred. She is the only character I can think of by name.
LLS: Maud, I really like Maud. She seems so nice.
llp: What was your favourite part?
LLJ: The part where she turned them all into snails. It was the most exciting part of the book.
LLS: I liked when Ms. Hardbroome was nice at the end. That kind of surprised me.
llp: In what way?
LLS: She was always mean and stuff in the rest, but she was nice at the end and I liked it.
llp: How did you like reading a book with all girls?
LLJ: It was new and exciting. It didn’t really matter to me. I read books with lots of girls in it: Wings of Fire, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman.
LLS: Most of my books are about girls, so I am not one to talk.
llp: LLJ, in general, that doesn’t happen very often though? When I was growing up even, there weren’t many books that were mostly focusing on girls, I though it was unusual. Like Marvel movies even.
LLJ: I guess it depends on what you are reading actually, with Wings of Fire. (Conversation about women in the MCU/Star Wars) I never really think about it.
LLS: I don’t really notice that there aren’t many girls in those movies and books. They are getting nicer about including girls. I kind of like to read books with lots of girls better, but the ones with boys are usually funnier.
llp: Would you like to read the rest of the series?
LLJ: Why not?
LLS: Yes! I am going to draw a picture of Mildred.
llp: Who do you think would like this book?
LLS: My friend A. She is the kind of girl who would like it, a book about Mildred’s adventures and the funny stuff she does.
LLJ: I think it would appeal to readers 8-10, looking for something with more girls in it read. Kids who like Harry Potter. It’s like a beginner reader for Harry Potter, it’s not as scary as Harry Potter for sure.
llp: Is there anything else you want to tell people about The Worst Witch?
LLJ: When it’s all said and done, it’s a fairly good book.
LLS: It’s a good choice for young readers.
LLJ: Good choice of vocabulary, LLS!
CBR 10 Bingo category: Two Heads Are Better Than One.