Thursday, December 15, 2011

Favorite Series Week - Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas illustrated by Korky Paul

Winnie the Witch © Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul, published by HarperCollins Publishers ©Winnie the Witch illustration Korky Paul

Winnie the Witch lives in the forest in an all black castle with an all black interior - fixtures, furnishings and carpeting. Her companion is a black cat named Wilbur and he blends almost seamlessly into the all black decor. This does not present a problem when Wilbur's bright green eyes are open, but when he shuts them, things go awry: Winnie constantly sits on and tumbles over, Wilbur.
After a nasty fall down several flights of stairs, Winnie gets so exasperated that she casts a spell turning Wilbur green - she can now see him wherever he is in the house.  All is well until Winnie, spotting Wilbur sleeping on her bed, places him outside. A now green Wilbur blends into the tall grass and as Winnie hurries outdoors one day, she trips over him and does a triple sommersault  into a rosebush. Ouch!
In a fit of rage, Winnie casts a spell transforming Wilbur into a multicolored cat with a yellow body, pink tail, blue whiskers and purple legs. Now, regardless of the surroundings, he can be seen. Winnie is pleased, but Wilbur is miserable.  He scampers up a tree to hide in shame.  His appearance is so ludicrous that even the birds mock him.
Winnie faces a dilemma.  A sullen Wilbur won't come down from the tree because he is displeased with his color. Winnie loves Wilbur and wants him to be happy, but she is unwilling to continue tumbling over him. Winnie ponders their predicament and eventually comes up with a creative and very colorful solution that will please them both.

I bought Winnie the Witch and Winnie's Midnight Dragon a year ago, in anticipation of my daughter slowly moving away from the baby stage where she requests her favorite 10 books everyday and disregards any other titles. In the interim, although my eldest is becoming averse to what he calls "girl books," I do read them to both my sons.  The boys gladly make an exception for the Winnie series, because the stories are entertaining and because Korky Paul has added bugs, snakes and other bizarre little animals crawling around Winnie's very cool castle.  And, lest I forget, they remind me that, "Wilbur is funny and he is a boy cat." All of those little details add to the boy appeal.

Our personal collection is heavily overweighted in the "boy book" category. I realize that I need to purchase more with female protagonists but there seems to be an overabundance of the "sassy little girl" books on the market which I dislike.  Winnie the Witch is a refreshing alternative. Winnie is not obsessed with her appearance, so she is also the anti-Barbie. She is quirky with  long unkempt, wiry hair with a yellow bow at the end.  She has unshaven legs under her cool yellow and orange striped tights. I was unaware until recently that there is a series of  10 or so Winnie the Witch books. I was so excited at the discovery that I purchased two more titles as a Christmas gift for my little girl, but they have not yet arrived.  I look forward to finally introducing my daughter to the delightful Winnie the Witch series in the coming months.

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