With an array of party food and good friends, witches give thanks just like the rest of us—only with roast warthog instead of turkey—in Ezpeleta’s picture book.
We’ve all heard stories about witches’ dastardly activities on Halloween night, but how do they celebrate other holidays, such as Thanksgiving? According to Ezpeleta, they celebrate in much the same way as regular people—with feasting. But the witches’ feast is made from yucky ingredients such as “A batch of toadstools / Found deep in the wood, / Toenails of snails / Would surely taste good.” But Thanksgiving isn’t just about gorging on warthog with rat tail gravy; for witches, like everyone else, holidays are about friends and family. Though the witches may not share our menus, they do offer gratitude for the same things. “ 'But mostly for friends' / Goblets raised ov’r head / 'A toast to good friends,' / They drank wine, blood red.” These witches, while horrifying on Halloween night, may be mistaken for friendly grandmothers by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. Grizelda the witch and her friends spare no effort to make their Thanksgiving feast memorable. Children will adore the gory images of disgusting ingredients making their way into the stew pot, while parents will appreciate the message of love embedded in the story. Ezpeleta, a children’s author with a master’s degree in teaching, offers rhymes that are funny, entertaining and easy to read out loud. A few of the lines are awkward, as if the rhyming word was forced into place instead of grown organically from the text, but overall the cadence is regular and word choice is appropriate. Romanian illustrator Budeanu livens up the text with bizarre, visually attractive pictures of witches gathering ingredients, cooking the feast, greeting friends and stuffing themselves. The pictures also feature a cast of characters—bats, cats and creepy crawlies—that make each reading feel fresh.
A beautifully illustrated, energetic, imaginative tale that shows a side of Halloween monsters that readers rarely think about—witches need friends, too.