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THE LITTLE GREEN WITCH by Barbara Barbieri McGrath


by Barbara Barbieri McGrath & illustrated by Martha Alexander

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: July 1st, 2005
ISBN: 1-58089-042-3
Publisher: Charlesbridge

Alexander’s soft-textured, colored-pencil illustrations convey a sweetness decidedly at odds with the verbal tone of this “Little Red Hen” remake. One day Little Green Witch finds some pumpkin seeds in the garden’s carefully tended muck. She gets no help from the ghost, gremlin and bat with whom she shares a hollow tree, either in doing the “unhousework,” or in growing the pumpkins and carving the resultant jack-o’-lanterns. She not only declines to share her well-burnt pumpkin-gloop pie at the end, but she turns all three of her lazy housemates into little red hens. Clad in a conical hat, ragged shift and pink panties, the childlike witch has a ready smile that looks friendly rather than malicious, even in the closing scene, and the illustrator’s efforts to uglify the house and garden only make them look comfortably inviting. As Barry Downard’s Little Red Hen (2004), Ann Whitford Paul’s Mañana, Iguana (2004) and many other examples attest, the tale lends itself to offbeat riffs—but here the dissonance gets in the way of the humor. (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)