Pandora and her granny return in a new set of stories about witches who cannot refrain from using magic.
In “The Ghosts of Creakington Hall,” the chapter book’s first story, Pandora, a white, English, half-witch, half-human child, is being punished for casting spells. (She and her granny had “magicked the three little pigs out of their fairy-tale book.”) No brooms or wands are allowed on the family visit to an estate, but Granny can’t last long without fun and witchcraft. The title story involves three granny witches with their helpers, Pandora, “meanie Merlin,” and “snooty Opal” (both also white). The witches participate in a TV baking contest, but they are told: “NO MAGIC ALLOWED!” The three grannies cannot help themselves; the taping erupts into a magic-fueled food fight. The angry producer dismisses them, but the viewers can’t get enough. In the last story, Pandora’s school is disqualified from a gardening competition because Granny creates some gigantic carrots. Black ink and gray wash drawings on every page are full of humor, but there’s little sign of diversity, save for Chef Edwardo and a student, the only evident characters of color. Light doses of innocent sorcery, a loving relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter, and some occasional British slang (“tickity-boo”) add up to a funny introduction to the magic arts.
This accessible series should lead young readers to the groaning shelves of middle-grade fantasy that await. (Fantasy. 6-8)