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The Witch Boy Paperback – Illustrated, October 31, 2017
"There Was an Old Mummy Who Swallowed a Spider" by Jennifer Ward
From the creators of the bestselling There Was an Old Monkey Who Swallowed a Frog comes a spooky rendition of the popular “Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” song. | Learn more
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“Ostertag's bright, gentle, cartoonlike artwork brims with life and adds extra appeal to this fast-moving story. An excellent choice for reluctant readers, fans of fantasy, and those looking for books that explore gender roles.” – School Library Journal, starred review
“Thrilling and sweet. Ostertag is one of comics' brightest new voices.” – Hope Larson, author of Compass South
“Ostertag is creating worlds and witches for the modern young reader.” – Lucy Knisley, author of Something New and Relish
“Dazzling . . . a contemporary fantasy for anyone who's struggled with defining themselves.” – Marika McCoola, author of theNew York Times bestselling Baba Yaga's Assistant
About the Author
- Lexile Measure : GN490L
- Grade Level : 3 - 7
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 133808951X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1338089516
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.75 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Graphix; Illustrated edition (October 31, 2017)
- Reading level : 8 - 12 years
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Aster is a boy who lives in a magical society where the girls are trained to be witches, and the boys are supposed to grow to be shapeshifters. Aster's shapeshifting magic hasn't come to him, and he's really much more interested in witchery. At one part of the story, he points out to the other boys that it's silly that the girls are in lessons learning things while they are just running around playing fighting games. As a teacher, this made me smile! His family then runs into a mysterious danger, and no one will listen to him when he thinks he has a way to help make things right. Will he be able to use magic his way to help save his family?
This book features a diverse cast, which is readily apparent to the reader thanks to the graphic novel format. Aster is a likable protagonist, as is his friend Charlie. I love the message that shatters the binary gender norms, especially because they are sometimes quite rigid in this age group. When I listed the books I had bought to my students this last year, some of them questioned me on how the title could be "The Witch Boy." Even in the world of fantasy, they had clear gender norms established in their head. I am all for books that can help loosen those norms and create more open minds. There is no reason for our children to feel like there are things that they cannot do or be because they have been assigned a certain gender. Because of its fantasy setting, I feel like it's a book that can be more readily accepted by readers and gatekeepers with more conservative views. This kind of representation is very important for our children who are coming of age and discovering themselves.
Because it's a middle grade novel, the plot of THE WITCH BOY moved very quickly and I would have loved more details about the characters and the world. However, I think it'll be more than enough to keep kids engaged, and the story line is easy to follow. It's a quick read, which is a huge plus for some of our reluctant readers, and my students were definitely attracted to the full color, high-quality pages. This was the nicest looking book in the book order that it came in, and one of my students must have liked it enough to keep it, because it never made it back and I had to order a new one on Amazon.
My then 6yo loved it. He read the ending over and over. He really identified with Aster and Charlie, both kids who maybe don't quite fit in how they were expected to.
I read it as soon as it arrived in the mail. I was afraid it might be too intense for my 6yo at the time (an advanced reader) and i worried it might deal with subjects that felt a bit raw for him, but I left it lying around, hadn't decided what to do, and he just read it as soon as he saw it. It *was* intense but ultimately he loved it.
My other kid didn't read it until the day the sequel came out and then he read it several more times in the days to follow.
I read recommend this graphic novel, but especially if you have a kid who due to interests or gender expression or anything else feels like they don't fit right in their communities.
First off, the pictures are GORGEOUS. I love the style of drawing used here. The world building is pretty cool too. I loved the main character. He's sweet but still thinks about his own needs, and is naive but in a way that's appropriate for his age.
However, the plot is lacking. The "surprise villain" is pretty much the most obvious "twist" you could have come up with. Literally the exposition in the first SCENE spells it out for you. The side plot, a friendship with a non-magic girl, is a cool idea. She has a broken leg, and she doesn't want to tell the protagonist what happened. They make it out to be this big suspenseful secret so I was thinking abuse? assault? bullying? But no. (spoilers if you care) but some kids were teasing her so she dared them to make a jump with their bikes and she did it first and fell. I understand they're supposed to be middle school aged and this could seem embarrassing but I mean?
Also the metaphors get pretty annoying as a teen reader. I understand that for children this could help them understand complex issues around sexuality and gender, but I mean we get it.
All in all, I'm not disappointed I read it. I think it had some great qualities, but it just wasn't for me.
That in mind, I still thought the overall pacing was done well and the art was very cute! I especially loved how the author added the "witch language" that the characters speak. Altogether I wish the story was a little longer, but I think that's just because I had so much fun reading it. C:
I like it just fine.
Although it does do a bit of a too heavy handed "parents never understand thing".
which is a part of the thing's theme. I get that. Still though, having a secret family of magic peeps being staunch gender conformity supporters doesn't make sense. Witches have an extensive history of cross gender stuff.
There are a few not so great magic rules that the book doesn't really answer but I can't expect it to.
It's a very short story and doesn't have time to answer my quibbles.
It's a delightful read, but it does have flaws. I'd give an average book 3 or 4 stars. but seeing as how important this sort of story is I'm giving it the full 5. It is creative enough to deserve it and the majority of the metaphors and representation are treated very well and understandable through a child's eyes.
I look forward to the prospect of reading this story to my kids.
Top reviews from other countries
The tale is of Aster a male witch which is forbidden in his family, he is to be a shapeshifter even if that is not what his heart is telling him. It is an amazing story of growth, a strength of spirit and believing in yourself when everyone else thinks that you are wrong.
It resonates clearly with me as a girl having been told I shouldn't play with swords, I needed to be a princess or a wife in reenactments to go out there and be almost as good as some men in my group because I found one that would let me be myself. Fight for what you believe in is what this book teaches and I think everyone should learn from this tale.
I loved the story and the characters, interesting relatable and well rounded. The art is great, easy to understand and very expressive.
Great coming of age and acceptance within family/society story.