How to Catch a Witch
Written by Abie Longstaff
Published by: Scholastic UK
Publication date: 6th October 2016
Age range: 10+
Summary (from Goodreads):
Charlie and her family have moved from the big city to a small country village, and everything feels wrong. Their cottage is old and creepy. Anxiety about her new school is causing Charlie’s stutter to return. And the villagers are just plain weird. Not least, Agatha, who may not have a broomstick or a cauldron, but is definitely a witch…
Everywhere she went, Charlie noticed strange things. There was that frog the other day who had looked at her too closely, like he was about to talk. And the old apple tree at the bottom of the garden definitely had some kind of face in its bark. These days things had seemed stranger than ever. They’d only moved into the cottage one week earlier and so far it was all so very different from London.
Most of you might know Abie Longstaff from her series – The Fairytale Hairdresser where a hairdresser meets various characters from fairytales and helps them solve their problems (It is brilliant by the way!) I didn’t know that she had also written this series until I saw the second book – How to Bewitch a Wolf – advertised. It really looked like my cup of tea so I duly trotted off to my local library to procure a copy.
As an adult I loved this book and I would have loved it even more if I had read it when I was ten. The main character is realistic and sympathetic and the other characters in the book are fleshed out too. I liked this as a standalone, but was even more pleased to find out that there is a sequel. This is a new favourite for me so buying my own copy now.
Highly recommended if you like magic, witches and adventures!
With her stomach churning, Charlie pushed the door open. A sea of faces looked up.
“Um…I’m, uh…” She stumbled over her first words. Everyone stared. The teacher waited, expectantly. Charlie opened her mouth, but to her horror, she found she couldn’t say the “ch” of her name. There was a long pause. Charlie could hear her name inside her head, but it was like the sounds were stuck in quicksand.
What I liked: Simple, but interesting and fast-paced storyline. The protagonist, Charlie, has a stutter, yet it is something that does not hold her back in the story – in fact, she is reassured by Agatha (her local witch) that it will help her as she has to be so precise when speaking!
Even better if: I would have really, really liked some illustrations – I think they would have made an already very good book even better.
How you could use it in your classroom: This would be brilliant for a read-aloud with a Year 2, 3 or 4 class. I have a child in my class with a stutter and don’t often see positive representations in stories so am planning to read an extract from this in class next week. (Update: I read the extract and got groans when I stopped reading. I haven’t seen a copy of the book since so they have gone home with some children…)
(Thank you to my wonderful library for having a copy on your shelves!)
Thanks for reading!