The Witches 30th Anniversary Edition, by Roald Dahl
THE WITCHES, by ROALD DAHL, illustrated by QUENTIN BLAKE
Special anniversary edition published by: Farrar Straus Giroux
Regular edition published by: Puffin
Release Date: August 27, 2013 (US) (Available from Amazon elsewhere)
Reviewed by Dylan & Rachel
When the narrator’s parents die in a car crash on page two, he is taken in by his cigar-smoking Norwegian grandmother, who has learned a storyteller’s respect for witches and is wise to their ways. The bond between the boy and his grandmother becomes the centre piece of the tale–a partnership of love and understanding that survives even the boy’s unfortunate transformation into a mouse … of course, there’s adventure here along with Dahl’s trademark cleverness and sense of the grotesque. Dahl also communicates some essential truths to children: if they smoke cigars, they’ll never catch cold, and, most importantly, they should never bathe, because a clean child is far, far easier for a witch to smell than a dirty one.
REVIEW BY DYLAN, AGE 9 (http://book-walrus.com/reviewers/walrus-dylan-h/)
Star rating: * * * * 4 out of 5
I was excited to read The Witches because Roald Dahl books are funny – my favourites are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the BFG. But watch out! His book called The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me is NOT funny so don’t read that one.
The front cover of The Witches looks freaky but The Witches is not a scary book. It will make you laugh. It’s funny that children smell like dog droppings and witches have blue spit. Roald Dahl is a good writer because you hear his characters voices in your head, especially the Grand High Witch. She has cool evil powers. I like it when she blasts the witch with fire and I want to be able to turn people into mice when they’re annoying like she can.
The grandma in the book is wise because she tells the boy not to have baths. My nana doesn’t make me have baths. My nana smokes cigars too like the grandma in the book. So I think no baths and cigar smoking are signs of a good grandma. Not like blue spit and fiery eyes. They are signs of a bad witch.
The only slow bit of the book is chapter six. That’s because the meeting of all the witches goes on too long and I learnt from The Witches that if you have a meeting about murdering lots of children you should check your meeting room is empty first.
The Witches is a good book. Not as good as the BFG but a lot better than The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me. READ IT!!
REVIEW BY RACHEL HAMILTON, AGE AN ETERNAL SECRET
Star rating: * * * * * 5 out of 5
The 30th anniversary edition of The Witches offers another chance to marvel at Roald Dahl’s supernova of deliciously disgusting magnificence.
I was hesitant about re-reading at first because, as an adult, I’ve discovered it’s not always wise to return to things you loved as a child. Recently, I retried my favourite childhood snacks – pink sugar mice dipped in marmite – only to discover they’re just as revolting as everyone always said they were.
I needn’t have worried. Roald Dahl’s mice are totally marmite-free and so are his witches. The characters I loved all those years ago still have the power to thrill today. Dahl’s witches are fantastically gruesome cadaverous old harpies with rash-covered bald heads, claw-tipped fingers and deformed, toeless feet. These ghastly ghouls are all the more disturbing because they know how to hide beneath seemingly perfect exteriors.
It’s this ability to perfectly blend the vile and repellent with the seemingly-sweet that’s so unique to Roald Dahl: “A REAL WITCH gets the same pleasure from squelching a child as you get from eating a plateful of strawberries and thick cream” is a golden example of his wordy-genius. Who else can tell tales of child-murder while leaving his reader salivating over a creamy pudding?
I’d recommend this book to anyone. There’s a reason they called the annual prize celebrating sidesplitting kids’ books the ‘ROALD DAHL Funny Prize’. Dahl has a way of hitting you with mad ideas that leave you giggling at inappropriate moments long after you’ve forgotten other stories. I love the fact that I’m still suspicious of sweet old ladies who wear gloves indoors and scratch their heads too often. I have to agree with Dylan on this one… READ IT!