the witch books of ruth chew

October 14, 2015

 My spookies! I have some delightful Halloween treats for you today. Have you ever read the Matter-of-Fact Magic books by Ruth Chew? She wrote a whole whopping slew of books about mischievous witches and magical events happening to the ordinary school kids. The original books were written in the 1960's and 70's, but have been recently re-issued in delightful new paperback copies. I just got Julia 'The Wednesday Witch', as a Halloween treat. I read it when I was a little girl and it is cute, cute, cute. 'The Trouble with Magic' is a book I picked up over the summer - Julia already read it and loved it, but now seems the appropriate time to show off both books.

Charming. Sweetly old fashioned. Julia was telling me about some book she picked up from a recent Scholastic book fair and I'm not sure which book she was talking about, but someone got shot apparently in some portion of the book, which is some mystery caper - I'm thinking I should have vetted it more closely - but what I'm REALLY TRYING TO SAY is that there is nothing like that to be found in Ruth Chew's magical books.

In 'The Wednesday Witch', a girl named Mary Jane makes the mistake of playing with her mother's perfume bottle, which contains a scent called Mischief. The scent wafts past the nose of a witch named Hilda, who promptly tries to track down the source of the delightful smell. She arrives on Mary Jane's doorstep, complete with her pet cat and her VACUUM CLEANER. Her vacuum cleaner is named James, and that's her BROOM. The vacuum cleaner.

 The long and short of it is that Mary Jane adopts the cat, and also manages to take possession of the witch's vacuum cleaner. (Mary Jane's mother mistake Hilda for a vacuum salesperson) The witch has a pair of magical scissors which snips things (it doesn't hurt!) to smaller size, and through a very complicated (not really) series of events, both the witch and the cat end up Very Small and they both move into Mary Jane's dollhouse.

At the end, it all gets sorted out - everyone finds their way back to their correct size, oh there are also magical roller skates - and Mary Jane has to perform a spell and track down the ingredients, which include macaroni from her daddy's dinner. Oh and she makes witch's brew for Hilda to drink in the dollhouse, made from children's aspirin and orange juice. (don't try this at home kids!)


Fun, cute books that would be great as read-alouds for 1-3 grades and perfect as quick reads for older elementary kids. Julia's reading 'The Wednesday Witch' right now. She'll be done with it in two days, but that's ok, I still wanted her to have it. ( 'The Trouble with Magic' is about two kids who find a magician in a bottle, who winds up taking residence in their attic.)

Ruth Chew wrote a ton of books along this theme - 'No Such Thing As a Witch', 'The Witch at the Window', 'The Would-Be Witch', just to name a few. If you yearn for sweetly nostalgic books of kids finding magic in the most ordinary of scenarios, you really need to check some of these out for your kids. More and more, I've come to realize that Julia won't find books like these if left to her own devices. I get that she won't (usually) naturally gravitate towards classics unless I put them in her hand. I'm happy for her to read whatever she comes across on her own, (within reason), but I take it as a personal mission to make sure her childhood is also scattered with books from long ago that aren't always filled with snarky Mean Girl action or YA themes shoved into a book marketed to 3rd graders. That's my little soap box rant. Guess what she's getting for Christmas? 'The Chronicles of Narnia', as a whole set. I'm so excited in advance, I'm pretty much peeing my pants.




9 comments:

  1. I love the classics too and I'm always on the look out for ones I have not read. I ran across these http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MX4CL6W/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=7C6COHS525PV&coliid=I3D09YXB62BZ12 have you read them?

    Narnia, one of the books I wanted to live in....she will love it I'm sure!

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  2. We have them! But have not read them, to my deep chagrin and sadness. I ordered Magic Faraway Tree thinking it was the first book, and then realized that the Enchanted Wood was actually book 1. And......they just got away from us. They are unread on the bookshelf! This is what happens when there are too many books in one's life, lol! I still want to read them with her, even if she might be a scant bit on the other side of being too old for them.

    I have a gorgeous hardback leather book collection of ALL the Narnia books, it was given to me as gift, but......it's so big. I think the kiddo would much rather have individual copies of the books so she can read them easily in bed. The leather thing is like a dictionary!

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  3. Oh, these are fabulous! I think my nearly eight year old would LOVE them! We're reading "Redwall" aloud right now, and since we only read a few pages a night it's taking a while. But lucky for me, he's nowhere near cutting me off so maybe we can sneak this in before Halloween then go back to Redwall.

    I love that you've gotten The Chronicles of Narnia for Julia, and I love love LOVE that you're so excited about it! My kinda girl!

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    1. Just ordered that bad boy! the Narnia boxed set - and ooh this is cool - Pauline Baynes the original artist? She hand color painted the B&W art for this new 50th anniversary edition set. I can't wait to see it! Christmas present #1 on its way, wooo!

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  4. Cute! I never read these.

    Little Sis keeps bringing home some of the Narnia books from school, although I've told her 1) they're too advanced for her to read on her own right now, but we could do them as a read-aloud; 2) there's an order to the books; and 3) we own a beautiful slipcovered boxed set!

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    1. eeeee! the set just arrived. i'm so excited. I LOVE THOSE BOOKS SO MUCH.

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  5. Some books for 3rd graders are snarky, mean girly, or YA?
    You just blew my mind.
    Blech.
    I'm so not looking forward to that.

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    1. actually I meant to say 4th graders, lol. but the idea is still valid. there's crazy stuff out there. but there's so much AMAZING stuff out there. so many wonderful series of books that weren't around when I was a kid!

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  6. SO excited that you wrote about the Ruth Chew books, which were my FAVORITES as a kid. Seriously, I credit these books almost more than any others with igniting in me a love of reading on my own. I'm pretty much been a broken record about these books, ever since they started being re-printed a few years ago--so it's nice to know that I am not alone. :) More people need to know about them, especially since there is such a dearth of material that straddles the "early" chapter book market with the much more challenging middle-grade fiction. Yay!

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