Pictures by Quentin Blake
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013, 1983
From the dust jacket, “When the young hero of The Witches is orphaned by an automobile accident, he is left in the care of his aged grandmother, a formidable cigar-smoking lady who happens to be a retired expert on dealing with witches. In spite of her warnings about how to spot these awful creatures, her grandson accidentally wanders into the annual convocation of the witches of England—and overhears the horrifying plans in store for every child in the country. But before he can escape to reveal the witches’ plot, he is captured and turned into, well … you will have to read and find out. for certain he is no ordinary hero and this is no ordinary tale.”
What a fun book! I read it straight through even though its 202 pages long! But be warned: if you’re afraid of mice or witches or the terrible, awful things they do to youngsters, then you might not want to read the book. Just kidding!!! While the book does portray witches in a terrible light, as the author reminds his reader, the book is written for kittens, not adults. Kittens know not to take anything in Roald Dahl’s books seriously and that his outlandish writing is for fun and laughter. So, if you’re witch without a sense of humor and are unable to laugh at yourself and your fellow witches – DON’T read this book! I promise you – you WILL be offended. If you’re a kitten, then get your minders to check out this book for you as soon as possible. You won’t be disappointed!
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for lots of fun, lots of mice and even a mention of cats!!!
This book was banned by some libraries in England because of perceived misogyny. The reason? Dahl says that witches can only be women. Also challenged because our hero misbehaves and takes retribution on adults without consequences for his action and because it devalues the life of a child.
It was also challenged in:
1987 in Amana, Iowa for being “too sophisticated and did not teach moral values”;
1989 in Billings, Montana because Dahl made a comment indicating parents had no sense of humor;
1990 in Goose Lake, Iowa for violence, turning people into mice and the word “slut” (I don’t remember reading that word);
1991 in Dallas, Oregon for the possibility of enticing kids to study witchcraft or the occult;
1992 in Escondido, California for fear of desensitizing kids to violence and increasing interest in witchcraft;
1992, La Mesa-Spring Valley, California for depiction of witches as ordinary women that children cannot defend against and for promoting the Wiccan religion and witchcraft;
1993 in Spenser, Wisconsin for desensitizing children to crimes related to witchcraft;
1994 in Battle Creek, Michigan a parent claimed the book was “satanic”;
1995 in Stafford, Virginia for crude language and encouraging children to be disobedient;
1997 in Wichita Falls, Texas for satanic themes;
1998 in Dublin, Ohio because the book is “derogatory to children hurtful to self-esteem and conflicted with religious and moral beliefs.”
Now, if all of that nonsense doesn’t want to make you read the book, just because, well, I don’t know what else to say!