The Sticky Witch by Hilary McKay

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The Sticky Witch by Hilary McKay

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Silly and engaging, funny and a tiny bit scary, this is a great read!
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 72 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781781125991

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Tom and Ellie's parents have set sail around the world on a raft made of rubbish! They tell the children that they will be gone for three years, but it will go by very quickly and they'll be safe and happy in the company of Aunt Tab. But who is this strange lady who applied for the job of caring for two wonderful children and their cat, Whiskers? She doesn't seem to be the kind guardian that the children need, and why is everything in her house so very, very sticky?

I do like Hilary McKay. She's very good at writing what I suppose you might call domestic drama. She creates families very well, and her children always sound realistic and they somehow leap into your heads as fully formed characters. Even though this is only a very short story it felt like a fully developed idea, and I laughed out loud at Tom and Ellie's dreadful parents heading off around the world on their rubbish raft! I love that it feels both very realistic and down to earth, as well as at the same time being utterly magical and fantastic. Tom and Ellie have school and homework. Yet there's also a treacle pond in the back garden, and a talking toad! I liked all the silliness, and the mystery surrounding Aunt Tab. The ending, which I won't spoil, feels perfectly agreeable (and fantastical!) and the book is a lot of fun to read.

Divided into seven short chapters, with black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout, this book is easy to approach, and good for those who are just getting to grips with chapter books. The story is funny, and the predicament of the children is both silly and a little bit scary, so it definitely has a readability to it. The Sticky Witch is part of Barrington Stoke's line of books written specifically for children with dyslexia. These books follow all of the guidelines of the British Dyslexia Association for dyslexia-friendly text. Working with a team of experts in the field, Barrington Stoke have developed their own font which is especially designed to make reading as easy as possible for children with dyslexia. They also print all of their books on a thick, off white, non-glare paper to minimise distractions which can make reading more difficult. The print is large and double spaced, with short chapters and short stories created to build confidence.

Barrington Stoke also, most importantly, choose stories that children enjoy, and so it's a great read for those with dyslexia and also those without, and the clear text makes it more accessible to emerging readers, as well as easy to read for those more confident with their literacy skills. It isn't obviously a book made for those with dyslexia, so there's no embarrassment factor when reading it, and I also liked that it felt like one of those lovely gender neutral books, that could be happily picked up by both boys and girls.

Although it's probably aimed around the 7 to 11 year age range, I think it could easily stretch to those a little younger too, even working well as a read aloud story for smaller children who have developed the patience for a longer story. Funny and engaging, this is definitely recommended.

Further reading suggestion: You might also like to try these titles that are also from Barrington Stokes: The Wickedest Witch in the World by Kaye Umansky and Gerald Kelley and Old Dog, New Tricks by Bali Rai.

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Buy The Sticky Witch by Hilary McKay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sticky Witch by Hilary McKay at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Sticky Witch by Hilary McKay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sticky Witch by Hilary McKay at


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