9th January '18
What a beautiful story! I've never read anything like it, which makes it even more spectacular. I've waited a long time for this book and was not disappointed in any way, wanting to read it possibly more than the children I was reading it to, in the beginning. Sharon-Marie Jones has done a fantastic job at addressing difficult issues that children face such as bullying, acceptance and self-doubt. This delightfully magical story is about a young girl called Grace-Ella who unsuspectingly finds out she is a witch, in the most peculiar way, "on the 9th day of the 9th month of her 9th year", A black cat, named Mr Whiskins, appears in the middle of her living room, much to her mother’s disapproval. My class warmed to this book instantly although to begin with some of the boys thought it was a 'girls' story, which I quickly dismissed as there is no such thing in my eyes. A story is a story and everyone enjoys them in their own way. Grace-Ella is flabbergasted when she discovers she is a witch and cannot quite believe someone like her, who can never do anything right, would be chosen to be so unique. She is given gifts that will accompany her and aid her in her training and quickly gets used to the idea. She is pleasantly surprised when her mom is proud of her, something that she has never witnessed before. Grace-Ella is confronted with some rules which are aimed to keep her witch abilities secret and under wraps and to begin with doesn't struggle to follow them. But her dislike of school and being teased, mimicked and made fun of by the school 'bully' Amelia, soon makes her want to break the rules of witchcraft in order to teach her a lesson. Amelia makes Grace-Ella and her best-friend Fflur's school life a misery in the mot sneaky of ways, so as not to get caught by the teachers of Saint Winifred's Girl's School. Rather than tell an adult and risk them not believing her, because of Amelia's popular status, Fflur and Grace-Ella kept quiet about the way they were treated, that is until one evening they'd had enough of how she was treating them and getting away without punishment, so Grace-Ella decided to teach her a lesson. The Halloween party was the highlight of the school events calendar and everyone looked forward to it, especially Amelia, who usually won first prize in all contests. The night had got off to a great start with only a few minor issues with magic, which then sent everyone into a frenzy but most of all it was Fflur winning First Prize in the fancy dress competition that really started Amelia off, even winning the pumpkin pie competition didn't increase her mood. So it was that night that Grace-Ella had had enough and would teach Amelia a lesson. She used magic in her presence to spook and frighten her and hope that she would stop bullying and ridiculing her and Fflur. Amelia tried to tell everyone but due to her fictitious stories anyway people disbelieved her and she was soon ignored whenever she brought up the events of the night in the library with 'The Witch' Grace-Ella, who happened to be dressed as a witch for the party. After that Amelia never bothered Grace-Ella and Fflur again and they began to enjoy school and look forward to going. Grace-Ella was invited to a witch camp to complete her tests in order to begin the intermediate level of witch training and was content in knowing that she'd been brave and faced her fears, standing up to Amelia once and for all. Throughout the story we discussed the issues that the children might face if it were them in Grace-Ella's position and the thoughts that she might be thinking during the difficult times. We discussed the advice that they'd give Grace-Ella and despite them only being 6 and 7 years old, they surprised me with their maturity discussing the bullying issue and how it made them feel. Their advice for Grace-Ella was astounding and it really sparked interesting conversations. Snack times haven't been so exciting for a long time! The children would like to share their thoughts about the book and are eagerly awaiting a sequel!
FR aged 7: I liked it because of how Grace-Ella used her magic to scare Amelia in the library.
SJ aged 6: I liked it because it was really funny. The funniest part was when Grace-Ella did a spell on Amelia and when she told everyone about it nobody believed her.
TL aged 6: I liked the part when the boy dressed up as a witch because it was really funny.
CN aged 6: I liked the bit when Mrs Nag was dancing. It was so funny.
OQ aged 7: The funniest part was when Mrs Nag started to dance because she was doing twirling and silly dances and she didn't know why.
IW aged 7: I found it really funny when Mrs Nag was dancing because I could imagine my teacher doing that and it would be so so funny.
AG aged 6: The funniest part was when the eyeball was moving up and down in the food because it made Amelia scared.
AT aged 6: It was funny when the food was flying because I liked it when it all came alive. It made me laugh. Food doesn't move like that.