The Witch's Tears by Jenny Nimmo

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The Witch's Tears by Jenny Nimmo

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A sophisticated, fresh and intriguing twist on witchcraft, that relies on building atmosphere rather than cheap shocks. You'll be kept guessing throughout the short read. Well worth a look.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 112 Date: July 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007364718

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Theo and Dodie's cat is missing, it's snowing, their clock-mender dad is away, and Mr Oak from the village has warned Theo all about witches. It's almost impossible to detect a witch, y'know, but if by some small miracle you can get them to cry, their tears turn to crystal. When Mrs Scarum turns up at Theo and Dodie's house, Theo is incredibly wary...

The Witch's Tears is an interesting take on other witchy myths that keeps you hooked and intrigued throughout. It's a realistic world, so the reader is kept guessing whether witches really do exist in the book or whether Mrs Scarum is just a slightly odd old lady. Not everything is immediately spelled out in black and white, which adds to the tension and atmosphere. Jenny Nimmo places a lot of trust in her young audience, and it pays off. The writing is powerful and dramatic, yet still clear and accessible.

I wasn't hugely impressed with Theirry Elfezzani's illustrations. I like the general style - particularly the fully fleshed-out version on the front cover - but then throughout the book, they're much simpler line drawings. Whilst Mrs Scarum has an interesting look to her, every other character or setting feels too simple to enhance the atmosphere. There's nothing flat-out bad about the illustrations - or about line drawings in general - but they seem like a missed opportunity here. Whilst I'm picking holes, I was also disappointed with the jokes and activities at the end of the book. In isolation, they're high quality and interesting. However, they're standard Halloween fare, rather than the quirky and unexpected tone of The Witch's Tears. I found myself questioning whether I'd completely misunderstood the book because of the jump in style.

But neither issue detracts too much from the story itself. The Witch's Tears is a strong, unusual and fresh take on witches. It's got bags of atmosphere and suspense, without ever needing to resort to cheap shock tactics to win an audience. The short yet sophisticated story pitches it to slightly older confident readers, or even as a quick read for younger teens. Slightly younger book fans will still enjoy having it read to them - perhaps two or three of the short chapters a night - and won't feel out of place. It's an interesting addition to your bookshelf. It's well worth a look.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

No Way Out by Gene Kemp has an amazing atmosphere, just like The Witch's Tears. For a longer read about magic, check out A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis. If you want more light-hearted witches, you'll love The Worst Witch to the Rescue by Jill Murphy. Charmed Life (The Chrestomanci) by Diana Wynne Jones is also super. Don't forget to also delve into witch-hunts, with The Witching Hour by Elizabeth Laird being a super place to start. We think you'll also enjoy The Witch of Turlingham Academy by Ellie Boswell or The Witch's Kiss by Katharine Corr and Elizabeth Corr.

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Buy The Witch's Tears by Jenny Nimmo at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Witch's Tears by Jenny Nimmo at


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