The Wickedest Witch in the World by Kaye Umansky and Gerald Kelley

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The Wickedest Witch in the World by Kaye Umansky and Gerald Kelley

Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: A fun new take on the Hansel and Gretel Story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781122013

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Everyone knows the story of Hansel and Gretel. At least we thought we knew. But as the saying goes there are always two sides to every story and this one is told from the perspective of Old Maggit, The Wickedest Witch in the World. You see Maggit really wasn't so wicked after all. It was the children who were wicked. Well, maybe they were not exactly wicked, but they were most certainly obnoxious, and old Maggit's no nonsense manner and just a bit of attention may be exactly what these children need to turn them around. Maggit really has built a house of gingerbread to lure children into as a means of finally winning the Wickedest Witch in the World title. But once she has the children - she has no idea what to do them and ends up teaching them manners. As to the whole cannibalism story - that was all made up of course. The children decide the only way for Maggit to win is to lie - and they come up with a whopper. It was so good people have been repeating it for centuries with the original tale thought to have originated in the 14th century.

I absolutely loved this story. I grew up on Grimm's Fairy Tales, and this has just enough of the original story to inspire nostalgia. I also love it when writers give us the other side of well known stories. I think this encourages critical thinking skills in children, as well as encouraging them to look at things from another perspective. My son enjoyed the references to the gingerbread house and the description of the lovely confectionery home. We liked the pictures, which are simple black and white line drawings but ever so funny. Most of all though, we loved this book for the humour. The two children acting like little brats was completely believable and even my oldest could not suppress a laugh at some of their antics. At one point it seems that the witch has really met her match with these two, and you end up feeling sorry for the poor old woman. But, in the end, neither the witch nor the children are completely evil. Old Maggit just wanted to win the prize for once, and the children really just needed a bit of discipline and some time and attention. This story definitely has a moral, but it is more for the parents than for the children. Children need time, pure and simple, and that is what old Maggit gives them.

The Wickedest Witch in the World 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.

This book has plenty of high quality illustrations as well, which can really help children to visualise the story. The stories are commissioned by Barrington Stoke, usually from very well known authors, and are written to appeal to older children, but at a much lower reading level than the interest level. This book is listed as reading age of eight and an interest age of eight to twelve. I have to admit that I did enjoy this myself so I won't argue with the upper age limit, but I do feel that the lower age limit could be brought down considerably. My four year old son really enjoyed this book, and I found it excellent as a read aloud bedtime story. The easy to read text would also make this ideal for any child just beginning to read on their own, and I do feel that many children could tackle this from ages six to seven.

If this book appeals then you will probably also appreciate:

Cherry Green Story Queen by Annie Dalton and Charlie Adler

Clover Twig and the Incredible Flying Cottage by Kaye Umansky

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Buy The Wickedest Witch in the World by Kaye Umansky and Gerald Kelley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wickedest Witch in the World by Kaye Umansky and Gerald Kelley at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Wickedest Witch in the World by Kaye Umansky and Gerald Kelley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wickedest Witch in the World by Kaye Umansky and Gerald Kelley at Amazon.com.


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