Monday, October 28, 2019

Review - The Itty-Bitty Witch

The Itty-Bitty Witch
by Trisha Speed Shaskan
illustrated by Xindi Yan
Date: 2019
Publisher: Two Lions
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book

Betty can’t wait to be a first-grade witch. But on the first day of school, her classmates start calling her “Itty Bitty” because she’s small and still uses her kinder-broom. Betty doesn’t like the nickname—or how it makes her feel itty-bitty inside. So she comes up with a BIG idea to prove herself: winning the Halloween Dash.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is almost a really great Halloween picture book. The illustrations are fabulous, and the overall message about persevering despite being put down or bullied is great. But the book has a couple of weaknesses.

The first is the writing. It's a bit stilted in places and doesn't flow that smoothly. That's a minor quibble, though, compared to the second issue I have, which is that Betty basically comes out on top because she uses a different set of rules than everyone else. For the Halloween Dash (which is a broomstick race), the teacher, Ms. Fit, tells the class the layout of the course:

"Mind the cave and the trees. Stay on the path. Ride the breeze."

But what does Betty do? She leaves the path and flies through the cave, using her small size as an unfair advantage. On one hand, you can see how the book is trying to show that Betty is coming up with an ingenious solution to level the playing field. But, on the other hand, it's also showing that she doesn't have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Sure, the bullies learn that being itty-bitty isn't so bad, but I feel sorry for the other kids in the race who weren't acting like jerks, who followed the rules, and who lost because Betty decided to, basically, cheat.

That said, the book could offer a great starting point for discussions with kids about whether what Betty did was fair or not. And the illustrations are not to be missed. So I would tentatively recommend this one to those looking for picture books about overcoming bullying, as well as those who want some adorably illustrated Halloween books for their collection.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 5/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.5 out of 5

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