The witch’s curse by Keith McGowanIllustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Target audience: Ages 9 to 12
Once upon a time a royal hunter and his knights ignored the warnings of curses and sought game in an enchanted valley. After years of successful ventures the prince was cursed by Monique, a powerful witch, to remain in the valley forever tracking down and killing animals who were once children. In a small town not far away lives Sol and his sister Connie who recently escaped from Mrs. Holaderry, their neighbor and author of “The witch’s guide to cooking with children.” The children’s only hope remains with their Aunt Heather who lives on the other side of the mountains. After leaving a note for their one friend, Gertrude, owner of the store “All Creatures, Big and Small,” they board a bus bound for their last remaining relative. When the bus breaks down, Sol and Connie wander and become lost in the forest located unfortunately for them in the famed enchanted valley. Gertrude has her magic cane back and is able to send a thrush into the valley to help guide the children to safety. However Monique is cunning and knows just how to lure lost children to her bespelled streams where the water will turn them into prey. Even though Sol and Connie become caught up in her web, begin the transformation and are separated, they use their talents and love for one another to change their fate. In addition to the main perspective of Sol and Connie there are passages telling the stories of Gertrude, the cursed hunter and the poor thrush who is desperate to complete his mission. This delicious fractured fairy tale will beguile younger kids with the spooky magic and adventure while the gothic undertone will appeal to tweens. Tanaka’s lovely soft brushed black and white illustrations are a perfect match for McGowan’s ghostly yarn. (Book provided for review by Children's Lit - www.childrenslit.com).