The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
1st Jun 2010
When asked if I’d like to write a review about a book from my own childhood, The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy instantly sprang to mind. My memories of it are wonderful – hazy summer playtimes on the primary school field, creating make-believe spells with my witch-obsessed friends, and chit-chatting about our favourite moments in the story. When Jill Murphy came to visit our school, she was treated with a God-like worship by us all, and The Worst Witch like our bible.
Re-reading it with age was a different experience. Though it still holds its original charm, it is noticeable that Jill Murphy is an exceptionally talented and trained illustrator who wrote her own story. There are uncomfortable moments in the text where she breaks the sacred ‘show, don’t tell’ rule, and some of her grammar could be tidier. It’s easy to get beyond this, though, with the enchanting story of clumsy witch Mildred Hubble and the unfortunate situations she finds herself in at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. And I defy anyone who does not fall in love with Mildred’s disobedient tabby cat.
It is worth knowing that Jill Murphy was only eighteen when she wrote The Worst Witch. Three more books followed in the series, as well as many excellent picture books including Peace at Last (which won the Kate Greenaway Medal) and Whatever Next. With the worldwide domination of Harry Potter, it is clear to see that Jill Murphy has been a great inspiration to writers of today. The Worst Witch was written in 1974, and will be held fondly in the hearts of its many adoring adult fans. Perhaps today’s child will find it simple when compared to the complexity of Harry Potter, but it is an excellent and much recommended choice of book for a young reader.
It’s published by Puffin Classics, and you can buy it from Amazon for a mere £3.34.
Do you have a favourite book from childhood that you’d like us to reminisce about on your behalf? Let us know in the comments if so, and we might feature it in Kids’ Bookcase in future.
Post by Rachael Brook