Regular readers of Cardiff Mummy Says will know The Worst Witch is one of the 22 films from the 1980s I want my children to watch before they are 11.
Before they’re allowed to see the film, I wanted them to read the book. Because I don’t think you’re ever too young to learn the lesson that the book is always better than the film.
I’ve been reading the book, written by Jill Murphy and first published way back in 1974, with Little Miss E, my 5¾ year old daughter, and having finished it a couple of days ago, I’m thrilled that she loved it as much as I did as a child.
She enjoyed it so much, in fact, that she kept sneaking off to read it without me! I had to ask her to wait for Mummy before reading any further because I really wanted to share it with her.
The Worst Witch tells of Mildred Hubble, a young witch-in-training at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Mildred tries hard but just can’t do anything right. She’s continually causing chaos and getting into trouble. She can’t fly her broomstick without crashing, never mind getting her kitten to sit on the back while airborne. She completely messes up her potion test and makes herself and best friend Maud Moonshine disappear, instead of the required laughing. She’s taunted by her arch enemy, the prim, proper and perfect Ethel Hallow, and her strict class teacher, Miss Hardbroom, doesn’t like her much either.
When Ethel puts a spell on Mildred’s broomstick in a fit of revenge, it causes Mildred to ruin the broomstick display at the school’s prestigious Halloween celebrations and she runs away in disgrace.
However, when Mildred comes across a group of revengeful witches, lead by Miss Cackle’s evil twin sister, in the woods, plotting to turn the whole school into frogs, in true underdog style, she uses her magic to save the day.
Miss E absolutely adored this book – and I absolutely loved reading it again. We started off reading a chapter a night, but binge-read six of the 10 chapters in one sitting, as she was so keen to finish it.
At only 100 pages long, and with large text on the pages, this is a perfect introduction to chapter books for children aged between about five and eight. It’s a little dark, with spells and potions, but it’s not scary as such. It’s a very heart-warming book.
Miss E was thrilled to see on the back cover that there are six other books in the series. She’s already suggested she can ask for some more for Father Christmas… and even if she hadn’t, I think he’d be bringing her some anyway.
You can read more about our favourite children’s books here.