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The Witches Paperback – August 16, 2007
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"This is not a fairy tale. This is about real witches." So begins one of Roald Dahl's best books ever, and, ironically, it is such a great story because the premise is perfectly plausible from the outset. When the narrator's parents die in a car crash on page two (contrast this terribly real demise with that of James's parents who are devoured by an escaped rhinoceros in James and the Giant Peach), 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 centerpiece of the tale--a partnership of love and understanding that survives even the boy's unfortunate transformation into a mouse. And once the two have teamed up to outwitch the witches, the boy's declaration that he's glad he's a mouse because he will now live only as long as his grandmother is far more poignant than eerie.
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. (Ages 7 to 10, or read aloud to younger children) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As an adult, I can report, that it is simply a magnificent story. I can see why I loved it so much as a child. Dahl never dismisses the reader (children) as being inept. Like the Grandmother in the story, Dahl knows children don't require extreme coddling. He's not timid about using fear to tell a great story.
Parent's strive to create a safe world for their children. But that illusion is one that all parents must slowly deconstruct to prepare children for reality. Fairy tales are an integral part of that deconstruction. In fairy tales, monsters can exist in a way that allows children face their fears and walk through those fears to the other side where strength, courage and confidence are found.
"The Witches" is a frightening, yet thrilling read for children. Dahl is a masterful storyteller and in "The Witches" he has weaved imagination, fear and courage into a fantastically fun story that has stood the test of time and remains refreshingly relevant for each generation.
Another boy was also changed into a mouse. His parents are disgusted by him now that he is a mouse. Grandma is very sad that his parents don't love him just because he's a mouse. But Grandma continues to be loving and considerate. She re arranges the house so her grandson/mouse can be safe and independent. She carries him in her purse when they go out. The adventure with the witches is funny and clever but the real story was in the tenderness between Grandmother and Grandson. As the boy/mouse considers his new reality he asks her how long a mouse would live. She is honest as well as hopeful. A mouse does not live as long as a boy would. But he isn't an ordinary mouse so he will live longer than an ordinary mouse.
I liked Roald Dahl before but this book sealed him as one of my favorite authors.
It is a great author being read by a great actress, and it is the sort of CD set that parents and children alike will enjoy, especially on any long car rides.