|Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: A lovely magical story, perfect to introduce younger readers to the delights of Diana Wynne Jones' writing.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 144||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
Earwig lives at St Morwald's children's home. Unlike some orphans in literature she's perfectly happy there since she seems to have everyone answering her every whim, and she loves spending time with her best friend Custard. Things are soon to change though as one day a rather strange couple, Bella Yaga and the Mandrake, come to look for a child to foster and the one they pick is Earwig!
This is a wonderful little story, perfect for those aged around 7 to 11 years old although it can easily be read aloud to slightly younger children too who can't manage to read it themselves. Earwig finds herself the servant of Bella Yaga, a witch, living in fear of disturbing the Mandrake. She's interested in magic herself, and so carefully watches everything Bella Yaga does before finding an unlikely accomplice who helps her find a way to bewitch both Bella and the Mandrake into doing what she wants them to.
The book is full of wonderful, quirky line illustrations - there are crow headers on each page, as well as spiders and crows appearing at the bottom of pages throughout but then there are also fabulous pictures of the characters showing Earwig with her googly eyes and crooked teeth, Bella Yaga looking rather hideous and the Mandrake with his horns and scary eyes! The pictures are funny and spread throughout the book, and it's nice to look over them if you read it aloud with your child, thinking about how the different characters are feeling and what's going on.
The story is divided into chapters, but at less than 150 pages isn't so long that younger readers would find it too difficult. I could easily see myself several years ago (well, quite a bit more than several but let's not get into that!) curled up reading this over a school holiday. Earwig is a fun character and the story is entertaining and engaging.
I had a feeling, by the end, that this could well have been a much longer, more detailed book though. It's sad that Diana Wynne Jones died earlier this year, cutting short what might have been quite a different story had she had more time. There were things mentioned, about Earwig's past for example, that aren't touched on for the rest of the book, and the ending also leaves things somewhat unfinished, I felt, so it's sad to think that there won't be any follow up stories about Earwig to tie up the loose ends. Adult fans of Wynne Jones will perhaps be disappointed by this book which is shorter and less detailed than some of her other novels, but I thought it was a nice introduction for younger readers to the wonderful characters she could create in her writing, and the magical worlds they live in.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: You might also like to try another of Diana Wynne Jones' books - Power of Three.
You can read more book reviews or buy Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones at Amazon.com.
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