The Cursed First Term of Zelda Stitch, by Nicki Greenberg

This time there’ll be no hiding at the back of the classroom, hoping no one notices me. No pretending to have a stomach ache or locking myself in the toilets to cry. In just nine hours I’ll be standing in front of a while class of the little monsters, trying not to make some kind of terrible mistake. Although I think I’ve already made one, taking this job in the first place.

Every teacher is nervous when they start their first job. But Zelda Stitch has an extra thing to worry about: how to keep the fact that she’s a witch secret from her students. especially when she isn’t even good at being a witch. When term starts she soon realises that it isn’t going to be easy. When the children play tricks on her, she struggles to keep her magic hidden. And it seems she isn’t the only witch in the room. One of her students seems to developing witch skills. And someone in the school has put a hex on the principal.

The Cursed First Term of Zelda Stitch is a humorous diary-format novel, complemented by equally humorous illustrations by the author. Zelda is bumbling but likeable, and supported by an interesting cast including her seemingly objectionable cat, Barnaby.

An easy read, with plenty to keep readers turning pages.

The Cursed First Term of Zelda Stitch, by Nicki Greenberg
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760294908

Polly & Buster: The Wayward Witch & the Feelings Monster, by Sally Rippin

Buster shrugs. ‘Not every witch can be a Black Witch,’ he says. ‘But you’ll be special at something, I just know it! And even if you never find that thing you are good at, you will always be special to me.’
Polly feels her heart squeeze with love for Buster. She throws her arms around his big, thick waist. ‘You are the loveliest friend a witch could ever have.’

Polly and Buster have always been friends – but their friendship has to be a secret, because witches like Polly are not supposed to be friends with monsters like Buster. Being secret friends isn’t their only problem. Polly is struggling at school, because none of her spells ever work, and Buster is hiding a secret: he gets bigger or smaller depending on his emotions, which is very un-monsterlike. When their classes cross paths on a school excursion, their secrets are in danger of being revealed, and Polly has to choose between being suddenly popular, or being true to herself – and her friend.

The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster is the first title featuring witch Polly and monster Buster, and young readers will adore the characters, the story and the format: hard cover with gold trim and black and white illustrations. While the story is self contained, readers will be keen to know what happens net and will eagerly await the next installment.

Polly and Buster: The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster, by Sally Rippin
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2017
ISBN 9781760129019

The Witch's Britches, by P. Crumble & Lucinda Gifford

Don’t lose these britches, look after them well.
They’ll stop being magical if they smell.

It seems we’ve all been conned into believing that magic could come from a wand. Witches’ magic, it seems, actually come from their magical underwear. When young witch Ethel arrives at magic school she receives a package of britches and a note reminding her to keep them clean. She follows this instruction faithfully until a strong wind springs up one washing day and carries her pants away. When the underwear lands in a local park, all sorts of magical chaos ensues, until Ethel can round it all up.

The Witch’s Britches is a humourous rhyming picture book about magic, witches and, of course, underwear. Youngsters will enjoy the silliness of both the premise and the chaos caused by the flying undwear. The bright digital illustrations have lots of detail to be enjoyed, and work well with the story.

Good fun.

The Witch’s Britches, by P.  Crumble & Lucinda Gifford
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781760151539

The Littlest Witch, by Martine Allars

Gwen Henderson stared out of the car window miserably. They were in the slow lane on the freeway and the other cars were speeding past their red station wagon.
As they hit a pothole in the road the entire car, including the trailer, the luggage and its four passengers, bounced into the air.
‘Sorry,’ Gwen’s father said as a box o books toppled over on the back seat.
The car landed wit a massive thud and a loud metallic crunch. Gwen sighed and flicked her red fringe out of her eyes. ‘Dad, I think you broke the car.’ She paused. ‘Maybe we should just go back to Smithville?’

Gwen and her triplet sisters Nel and Rain are tired of moving all the time. They’ve moved so many times in the past 12 years, and Gwen just wants to stay put. From the beginning though, their time in Jamestown is different. For a start there are people who seem to know who they are. That’s unusual. They also know that the girls are about to turn 13. And they’re staying in their Auntie Sylvie’s house. Gwen didn’t even know they had an aunty! Then there’s Stephanie at their new school. She’s beautiful, talented and oh-so-very nice. She’s so nice that Gwen is suspicious. Rain is enchanted by Stephanie and Nel fails to see why Gwen is suspicious. Soon after their birthday the girls discover they have some exceptional gifts, if only they could work out how to use them. There’s a prophecy too, but none of the girls can believe it refers to them.

The Littlest Witch is the first in a trilogy about fighting evil across worlds. The girls have teachers and protectors but ultimately it’s up to them to work out what they can do and how they will respond to the ‘call to arms’. Each of the triplets has their own unique personality. Gwen is the fiery one, the leader; Nel is the peacekeeper and Rain just wants her world to be normal so she can dance. The bond between the three girls is sorely tested, but the challenges they face require them to work together. The Littlest Witch is told from Gwen’s point of view and the reader shares her turmoil as she adjusts to their life in a new town, with new skills and a new world view. Recommended for upper primary readers, although the cover might attract younger readers.

The Littlest Witch (Littlest Witch)

The Littlest Witch, Martine Allars,
Pan Macmillan 2010
ISBN: 9780330423571

Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.

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