Today I bring you the second installment of Way-Back Wednesdays, my new blog series in which I review the contents of a box of books I was recently given, with a new book re-read and reviewed each week. This box is oddly random, a strange assortment from my childhood bedroom with little semblance of logic or order. Books from a series, with various titles in said series absent, chapter books from elementary school along with Shakespeare and Ray Bradbury—odd indeed, but should make for some fun over the coming weeks (months, even).
In selecting titles for review, I’ve utilized the very scientific practice of closing my eyes, reaching in the box, and grabbing a book.
And now to this week’s selection:
Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett.
This is a chapter book I recall reading quite a few times around age eight. The copyright is 1953, and it definitely reads that way—plenty of cigar smoking, calling females “sis,” and vaguely sexist, fear-inducing authority figures. This is a bit of an odd read, but still kind of fun. And there’s plenty of nostalgia, as I do remember how much I liked it as a kid.
It is the story of a young girl, Minikin, who has the great misfortune of being the daughter of an ill-tempered witch. Madam Snickasee, aforementioned witch, goes out each night, gallivanting about on her broomstick and working her black magic, while poor Minikin (Minx, for short) is stuck at home making Black Spell Brew and trying to find a way to conjure up a fairy.
Story of my life.
Many of the neighborhood children have gone missing, having fallen victim to the sorcery of Madam Snickasee. Any child who dared cross her was turned into a flowerpot and stuck in her windowsill. And the flowers have faces, people. FACES.
Fortunately for the children, Minx has taken it upon herself to tend to the botanical kids, making sure they get plenty of water and sunshine.
Madam Snickasee sleeps through the days (what is she doing at night?), not stirring from dawn to dusk. Yet, oddly, she is not a vampire. Not even a sparkly one.
Unsupervised, Minx decides it is best to enroll herself in school (because what kid wouldn’t, right?) and meets a new friend, who takes in the poor, unkempt, underfed child.
After several run-ins with various threatening adults—the head of the PTA, a private investigator, the school principal—things get a bit treacherous for poor Minx. That private investigator is getting mighty suspicious about those missing kids, and as it turns out, she could be jailed for practicing witchcraft! No mention of burning at the stake, so at least she’s got that going for her.
Fear not, dear reader. You will be relieved to know it all works out in the end. Madam Snickasee is turned into an anteater (no, really) while answering charges of witchcraft in a courtroom, and Minx finds out she is actually the daughter of a fairy. Win, win.
Oh, sorry. Should have posted spoiler warnings.
I hope you can forgive me.