1. A Job for Wittilda, Caralyn and Mark BuehnerI love this husband and wife team (their Snowmen books are magic to me). This particular story has just the right hint of Halloween without being all trick-or-treating and ghosts and vampires.
Wittilda is (presumably) a witch. (It never specifically says that she is, but she can only cook batwing stew or roast newt, she wears a pointed hat, and she flies on a broomstick, all of which are pretty good indicators that she is, indeed, a witch.) She owns 47 cats and has begun to realize that she does not have the means to feed so many mouths unless she makes some money. So she goes in search of a job. The one she really wants is with Joe Dingaling's pizza, but she has to prove her abilities by delivering five pizzas faster than any of the other applicants.
I just love the blurring of the line between fact and fantasy with this one. There's nothing spectacular about delivering pizzas, but delivering pizzas on a flying broomstick? Now that's cool. Also, Wittilda is one of those characters you wish was real: she's quirky and fun and uses her heart to make decisions.
The illustrations are full of Mark Buehner's traditional charm: shapes and pictures in the clouds, etc. And if you know anything about my boys, you'll know that they love the lurking spider hidden in all of the pictures.
2. A Woggle of Witches, Adrienne AdamsThis is an old book...not like, "my great-great-grandmother read it in a one-room school house" kind of old, but more like, "my mother might have checked it out from the library when she was a kid." So, about forty years old, in case that wasn't clear enough for you. But, for all it's been around, this year was the first time I had read or even heard of it. (So, clearly, my mom must not have checked it out as a child, or at any rate, it didn't make an impression on her.)
The book follows a "woggle" (see note below) of witches through an evening of fun. They begin by eating bat stew, which is followed by joy riding on their brooms until they take a break on the face of the moon. They know it is time to go home when they hear a band of trick-or-treaters approaching. They zoom back to their home in the forest as fast as their brooms will carry them.
The illustrations are charming: they're dark (because the story takes place at night), but not boring in any way. I love the changing color of the sky throughout...dark periwinkle, mossy green, chocolate brown. There's not a lot of variation in the witches' faces, but they all look like they're having a rollicking good time, which I love.
Note: Now the question I'm sure you've all been asking: is "woggle" a real word? From what I can tell, yes and no. Yes, if you look it up, you will find a definition. No, it does not mean "group" or "gang" or "clique" as seems to be the general meaning in this book. (For some reason, every time I say, "a woggle of witches," my thoughts follow with, "a gaggle of geese.") What is the real definition? A-hem: "the ring of leather through which a Scout neckerchief is threaded." I think I like it far better when referring to a gaggle of witches, don't you?
3. Winnie the Witch, Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
Winnie is a witch who lives in a completely black house. Everything is black: the carpet, the dishes, even the bathtub. (However, Winnie herself is not black. She is actually quite colorful.) A black house would all be well and good (for a witch, that is) except that Winnie owns a black cat. And Wilbur the cat is continually being sat upon or stepped on or tripped over because he blends in and Winnie can't see him. So Winnie comes up with some rather creative (and funny) solutions.
This book is just fun, and I love it for that. It made the boys giggle, and it made me giggle, too. There are times in the book when Wilbur the cat looks so indignant and sometimes embarrassed that you just have to laugh.
Because most of the illustrations are black/gray/white, it makes any color practically leap off the page. The absence of colors makes them even more vibrant when they appear.
And now it's your turn: if you have a personal witchy favorite, we'd love to check it out!