Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

Mildred Hubble, 12, is a first year student at Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches.  Though well-meaning and well liked by most of the other girls, Mildred always seems to be in trouble for something: "You could rely on Mildred to have her hat on back-to-front, or her bootlaces trailing along the floor.  She couldn't walk from one end of the corridor to the other without someone yelling at her, and nearly every night, she was writing lines or being kept in…(pg 3)  Mildred does have a best friend, Maud Moonshine, and a class enemy, Ethel Hallow.

This first book in the series begins with a very important event at Miss Cackle's Academy.  All the girls are about to receive their black kittens, an exciting tradition for first year students, and the girls are expected to train their kittens to sit on their broomsticks.  Mildred is the last to receive her kitten, but by then they have run out of black kitties and she receives a tabby instead.  

Naturally, Tabby is hard to train and Miss Hardbroom gives Mildred a hard time about it.  Ethel, overhearing this, can't resist saying something to Mildred, who gets mad and turns Ethel into a pig.  Turned back to a girl by Miss Hardbroom, Ethel tells Mildred she will be sorry for what she did.

Sure enough, a Halloween program is planned and Mildred's class is to present a program showing what they can do with their broomsticks.  But the day before Halloween, Miss Hardbroom notices that Mildred's broom is held together by scotch tape and tells Ethel to lend her her spare broom.  Ethel willingly does this, but not before she puts a spell on the broom.

The presentation is ruined by Mildred's wonky broom and Miss Cackle is beside herself.  That night, Mildred decides to take Tabby and run away.  She doesn't get far before she runs into a group of witches in the forest surround the school, and one of whom looks just like Miss Cackle.  Keeping out of sight, Mildred hears their plan to take over Miss Cackle's Academy.  

Mildred can't let that happen, but what to do?  Everyone is still so mad at her.
I first became aware of Mildred and Miss Cackle's Academy when my Kiddo was young.  The British TV show was one of our cable stations and my Kiddo was hooked immediately.  So, we found some second hand copies of the books and she read (devoured) them all.  The TV show pretty much stuck to the stories in the books, which for a young reader is nice.

The Worst Witch is being reprinted now, forty years after it first appeared in 1974 and I was curious to read it again, to see if it still holds up in the age of Harry Potter.  And, I am pleased to say it does.  It's also a British book, but aside from Miss Hardbroom being a form teacher, I don't think anything in the book will be confusing to American readers.  I am also happy to say that the original black and white illustrations done by author Jill Murphy that occur throughout the book, have been included, adding to the readers enjoyment of the story 

What is nice about The Worst Witch is that Mildred's woes are not so terrible, there is no dark lord to scare young readers, she is and remains just a nice girl and she always manages to unwittingly save the day.

The Worst Witch series are wonderfully fun chapter books for girls (I don't think boys would really be interested in it) who are chomping on the bit to read Harry Potter but are just not ready for it for whatever reason.

This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was an E-ARC received from NetGalley


  1. I love finding reviews of books I'd end up finding dusty, in the library. Great review and recommendation. Thanks for stopping by the Kid Lit Blog Hop,


    Tales of a Bookworm

  2. I love the worst witch! How nice to know the original illustrations have been retained. I might just have to read this series again.


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