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From Pictures to Words - a guide to choosing books for beginner readers:
Magic, Witches and Wizardry


The Witches by Roald Dahl
Published by The Penguin Group, 1983
ISBN 0-14-031730-9
Illustrations © Quentin Blake, 1983

When the narrator’s parents die in a car crash in the opening pages of the book, he goes to live with his Norweigan, cigar-smoking aunt. They both hatch a plan to outwit the witches, offering many helpful hints to all children at risk throughout the story.

These seemingly ordinary women in ordinary, everyday lives spend their entire existence plotting to rid their territory of children.

This is not a book for the faint hearted. Roald Dahl does not mince words in his portrayal of witches and how they work to achieve their sole aim in life. Young readers will no doubt agree with the narrator’s advice that they should have a bath only once a month at the very most, because it’s far easier for a witch to smell a clean child than a dirty one.

Written in that conversational style best exemplified by Roald Dahl, children will feel the author is speaking to them personally.

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