The Worst Witch to the Rescue by Jill Murphy
Template:Infoboxsort Mildred Hubble isn't usually quite so keen to go back to Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches on the first day of term, but today it's different. She's worked on the most wonderful project over the holidays and she's certain that everyone is going to be impressed. She's even pleasantly surprised when her arch enemy, Ethel Hallow, drops in (from her broomstick) as Mildred rescues her cat from a tree. When she gets to school it all starts to go wrong, as Ethel steals her project and there are problems with a tortoise who doesn't like being called Speedy and a ride in a broomstick in near-hurricane conditions.
I just love Jill Murphy. Whatever she does is classy. My grandchildren cut their teeth (sometimes literally) on her books for younger children and the Worst Witch series, first published in 1974, is a timeless classic. The series will probably appeal to girls rather than boys, as the human cast list is exclusively female, but it has all the elements that make a good book. There's fantasy as you see Mildred dressed as a witch but with Doc Martens, flying on her broomstick, complete with all her luggage. Normally I don't like fantasy - but this all seems so plausible!
There's the school atmosphere with which the readers will be familiar, but what a difference! There are lantern monitors and cats that enjoy jumping onto speeding broomsticks. Lessons revolve around spells and potions and I wasn't at all surprised to encounter a talking toad. Underlying all this are the normal schoolgirl friendships and rivalries, with the baddies always getting their comeuppance. It's a splendid story with only Mildred's bravery saving the day - it would be a very hard heart that didn't warm to her.
With Jill Murphy you don't just get a good story. You get writing that you're proud to give to your children. It's elegant, correct and a pleasure to read - aloud or to yourself. You get characters you can really warm to, that you can believe in. There are some wonderful illustrations, all done by the author herself, which neatly break up the text without giving the feeling that they're padding it out. And - it is a good story.
I read the book in a lazy couple of hours. I would imagine that this would give a young reader a great deal of enjoyment for a couple of evenings, but it is a book that is going to be reread time and time again. The main danger is going to be that you will be persuaded to buy all five books in the series! Four and a half Bookbag stars from me - I've removed half a star for the suggestion that milk could be given to a hedgehog when it could be poisonous to the animal.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Worst Witch to the Rescue by Jill Murphy at Amazon.co.uk
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