KOOKIES & MILK is a monthly feature where five year old KAYLEE reviews books with a little help from MOMMY.
KOOKIES & MILK is back with a brand new reviewer! Five year old Kaylee (with a little help from her mommy, Shannon) is going to be telling you what she thinks about books. As with Kaleb, she will also be answering a special bookish question I ask every month, and Mommy will be adding her thoughts about the book, too. I will also continue to add activities at the end of the post that relate to the reviewed book in some way. Here we go!
Last year I won the first six Worst Witch books during a blog tour celebration of the release of the new paperback covers. The publisher accidentally sent me two copies of the first book and no sixth book, so I had a spare and I sent THE WORST WITCH to Kaylee for her October review, and the kick off for HALLOWEEN WITCH WEEK, here on the blog. My son and I read the first five that were published at the time, and we were big fans of the Canadian television show when it was airing on HBO Kids. The books are now happily waiting on my bookshelf (with the sixth book in hardcover from the publisher) for my someday grandchildren. There is also a seventh book that was released in 2013.
This month I asked Kaylee what her favorite reading snack is and she likes ice cream!
Kaylee is a 5 year old Kindergartner. We have started reading chapter books to her at night and jumped at the chance to read The Worst Witch. I thought Kaylee would love a story about a young witch who is not very good at being a witch. For full disclosure, Kaylee's reading retention could use some work. She got a little confused about a "school for witches". She has never really encountered the idea of a boarding school and some of the terms were very British, such as "Form Mistress". It took about half the book (which is only 107 pages) before she caught on to what was going on. Also, getting her to recall and actively think about what she read is not her strongest skill, so it was a little like pulling teeth to get her to say WHY she liked the book. It helped to ask her direct questions, so here are some of her answers:
Did you like the book? Yes!
What did you like about the book? In the book that people laughed (I'm not exactly sure what she means by this)
What was your favorite part? The kitten flying on the broom (Each girl is given a kitten familiar and tries to teach them to ride on their brooms)
What didn't you like about the book? The witches that got turned into snails (This is because they were bad witches who wanted to take over the school. But they are thwarted and turned into snails instead)
If you were to tell a friend about this book, what would you say it was about? A witch. She flies her kitty around. She's a good witch. She's not good at being a witch.
*Kaylee was also a fan of the illustrations, which were quite cute. Chapter books with pictures are always good with her.
As for me, as a parent, I found The Worst Witch to be a cute story about a young witch named Mildred, who has a hard time fitting in at Miss Cackle's Academy, a boarding school for witches. She had good intentions, but sometimes manages to make big mistakes. But just when things look their most dire, Mildred manages to stop some bad witches from taking over the school and saves the day. I think kids can identify with Mildred in the same way they can identify with Anne of Green Gables or Ramona Quimby. She isn't perfect, but she is plucky. In short, The Worst Witch reminds me of the children's books I grew up with. And having been written in 1974, that isn't any surprise! It definitely reads like children's books from the 70s and 80s. It is slower, less flashy than its nowadays counterparts. The Worst Witch, in particular, in slightly episodic, especially at the beginning, before settling into the main story line. Because of this, I would recommend it for those readers who don't necessarily need a "hook" to enjoy the story.
Now, would I recommend this for readers who are too young for Harry Potter? It could potentially be a good substitute, especially since it has a similar "magical boarding school experience". It is less dark and does not have the heavier themes that the Harry Potter series has. The witches never do anything really bad or scary. The worse thing the "bad witches" were going to do was sneak into the academy and turn everyone into toads. So, I do think 5-7 is an appropriate age to read The Worst Witch to. But again, I don't think it is as "exciting" as Harry Potter or has as memorable characters. I probably wouldn't read the first couple Harry Potter books to Kaylee until she is closer to 7...and a few years older than that for the later books.
Printable BAT MAZE
Make a paper WITCH HAT
WITCH HAT RING TOSS
with glow necklaces.
Cinnamon sugar BAT CHIPS
THANKS FOR DROPPING BY!
You can find Shannon reviewing "big people" books at: Rex Robot Reviews.