I’m so glad that I included The Witches on the Halloween reading list. Every time I read something by Roald Dahl, I wish that I hadn’t waited so long to pick it up again. The Witches was no exception.
Who doesn’t love a good adventure where the hero faces impossible odds against a group of ugly, sinister villains and comes out victorious? When that hero is a quick, resourceful little boy-mouse? Even better!
If you’re reading this book for the first time, lucky you! Find a child that hasn’t really connected with reading yet, read it aloud, and watch them fall in love with the written word. You won’t be disappointed. The wonderful thing about this book (actually, all of Roald Dahl’s books) is the way that it creates a fantastical, creative, and absolutely original story that appeals to the imagination but is also so rich linguistically that it is delicious to read for the words and phrases alone. Here are The Home Book Club rules for reading The Witches:
1. Read it with someone, preferably someone young (or young-at-heart).
2. Read it out loud, if only to say the phrase “It was so crumpled and wizened, so shrunken and shriveled, it looked as though it had been pickled in vinegar.” If a better description of an evil witch’s face exists, I don’t know it.
3. Do the voices, especially The Grand High Witch!
This Halloween, skip the ghost stories and serial killer novels. Sure, we can all be spooked by things that go bump in the night. Enjoy a real novelty by reading about things that go bump in the broad daylight. Pick up The Witches and learn how to spot and defeat a real witch with a little boy-turned-mouse and his cigar-smoking Norwegian grandmother. And if you’re rooting for the other side, you can always read it to learn the recipe for Formula 86 Delayed-Action Mouse-Maker!