Childrens Book Reading Extravaganza 2010: Novel #96

Happy June my friends!  We made it!!  YOU are in the final month of the school year and I *gasp* have been waiting for June for nine long months myself.  (Different reasons, of course, but don’t worry, I will always feel that end-of-the-year-how-long-until-June feeling with you.)

And novel #96 is one of my childhood faves, despite people saying that it is controversial.  I guess it’s the whole witch thing that puts people off.  I thought it was FANTASTIC back in 1980-something when I read it for the first time and I still think it’s FANTASTIC now.  In fact, I read it over a cup of coffee in one sitting.  (Clearly, this was pre-Mini Mimi…I wanted to get ahead of the game so I didn’t leave you sans post for the entire month of June.  I know.  I’m amazing.)

Anyhow, #96 is The Witches by Roald Dahl.

The Witches

A young boy (our narrator) is sent to live with his cigar-smoking grandmother after his parents die.  His grandmother is a witch expert and tells her grandson all she knows about witches.  They go on a summer holiday to a hotel, and by accident, the boy finds himself locked in the Ballroom while the annual convention of the witches of England is taking place!  He overhears the witches’ plan to kill all the children of England by sneaking a potion (which will turn them into mice) into chocolates.  The boy manages to hide for the entire meeting, observing everything, until the very end when one witch smells his child-stink and the Grand Witch turns HIM into a mouse!  Oddly enough, he is totally cool with being a mouse (so is his grandmother…a lesson in loving someone no matter what or just creepy?)  and together they steal the magic potion, manage to feed it to all the witches at the hotel and turn them all into mice! 

Crazy, right?  I mean, this book is funny and has chapters that are a manageable length so that you could squeeze on in easily each day. PLUS, the Grand Witch has this FABULOUS accent (I think she must be Eastern European??) which would make reading this out loud to your friends ridiculously fun.  Clearly, with my flair for the dramatic, I turned simply reading a chapter book out loud for pleasure into a one woman show.  I have even been known to incorporate basic props.  (You think I’m kidding.)  (I’m not. )  I wish I had been able to read it with my small fries, but I always thought it was a bit advanced.  However, it would totally hold the interest of your third through fifth grade friends.

According to this lovely leveled book list (How handy is this thing?), The Witches clocks in at a just right level R, so probably perf for some of your independent readers at the end of fourth grade or the beginning of fifth. 

AND (it gets even better) think about the possibilities for a Roald Dahl author study!  I mean, the man is hilarious and has some fabulous books out there.  You could even incorporate the movie versions and turn the whole thing into an exciting multi-media study perfect for end of the year fun. 

Here are some other Roald Dahl titles that I totally dig:

George’s Marvelous Medicine
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Twits
Danny the Champion of the World
James and the Giant Peach
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The BFG (My Roald Dahl)

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll take it upon myself to re-read all of these someday and create an author study for us to have fun with when my AMAZING website is up and ready for you to rock.  Just a thought…

All right lovers, that’s it for today.  Feel free to share YOUR opinions of this title or get geared up to join in all the reading fun with novel #95…Pippi Longstocking.  We are totes like our own little book club.  So grab a glass of wine and get reading!


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  • Dahl has always been one of my favorites. I always ready Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my third graders. I would read it…and then we'd take a field trip to a local chocolate factory. What a great combination that was. Other favorites that I read aloud were Fantastic Mr. Fox and the James and the Giant Peach. His books are great!

    June 7, 2010 at 9:35 pm
  • I recently posted on my blog about reading this outloud to my 1st graders.

    Last year while reading this to my 2nd graders, something CRAZY happened. We were right at the part where Bruno Jenkins transforms & one of my students jumps up, points, & yells: "A MOUSE!" I got really pissy & told him to sit down & stop interrupting… until a mouse scurried across our rug. Perfect opportunity to tell my students that there was a witch in the building, *evil laugh* 😉

    June 10, 2010 at 5:55 pm
  • PS – Roald Dahl is totally fun as a spelling study to compare and contrast "American" vs. "British" spelling patterns.

    July 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm

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