The Little Green Witch
Barbara Barbieri McGrath, author
Barbara Barbieri McGrath was a nursery school teacher before she dedicated herself to writing children's books full time. She is the author of The Little Red Elf, The Little Green Witch, and many bestselling math concept books. Barbara lives in Natick, Massachussetts.
Read more about Barbara.
Martha Alexander, illustrator
Martha Alexander wrote and illustrated hundreds of books for young readers, including the Blackboard Bear series and The Little Green Witch.
Read more about Martha.
- Storytelling World Award Honor Title
Alexander's soft-textured, colored-pencil illustrations convey a sweetness decidedly at odds with the verbal tone of this "Little Red Hen" remake. One day Little Green Witch find some pumpkin seeds in the garden's carefully tended muck. She gets no help from the ghost, gremlin and bat with whom she shares a hollow tree, either in doing the "unhousework," or in growing the pumpkins and carving the resultant jack-o'-lanterns. She not only declines to share her well-burnt pumpkin-gloop pie at the end, but she turns all three of her lazy housemates into little red hens. Clad in a conical hat, ragged shift and pink panties, the childlike witch has a ready smile that looks friendly rather than malicious, even in the closing scene, and the illustrator's efforts to uglify the house and garden only make them look comfortably inviting. As Barry Downard's Little Red Hen (2004), Ann Whitford Paul's Mañana, Iguana (2004) and many other examples attest, the tale lends itself to offbeat riffs--but here the dissonance gets in the way of the humor.
School Library Journal
Halloween's answer to "The Little Red Hen." While her hollow-tree housemates (a ghost, a bat, and a gremlin) laze around, the little witch does all the "unhousework" --hanging the cobwebs, dirtying the laundry, etc. When she finds some pumpkin seeds and plants them, she discovers that her friends are stubbornly unhelpful at every stage. While the little green witch's question is always, "Who will help me...," the answers are divertingly varied: "'Can't hear you,' said the bat." "'Water, schmater,' grouched the gremlin." As readers will expect, when the witch takes her pumpkin pie out of the oven, everyone is willing to help her eat it. Equally predictable is her refusal to share it. But she has an extra comeuppance up her ragged sleeve, one that will make readers laugh out loud. McGrath has done a fine job of meeting expectations while introducing surprises at every turn. Her gentle humor is amplified by Alexander's sweet and funny watercolor-pastel illustrations. Details like a Mickey Mouse cup on the shelf, a wood crate labeled "Apples," and a cookie jar shaped like a little red hen can be discovered in successive readings. Children will enjoy this book before, during, and after Halloween.
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Page count: 32
9 x 9