One Halloween night a little witch having lost her broom gets trapped in a tree. A group of children notice her and surround the tree. The scared little witch is petrified and dreads the worst. One frightened little boy believes witches are evil and warns of the danger. Mounting peer pressure causes the group of children to become increasingly apprehensive and plan an attack. Along comes Sabrina who instead empathizes with the Little Witch and dares to react differently. The group of children gasps in amazement not knowing what to expect!
This is a timely and charming short story where children can learn the value of being brave and ignoring peer pressure, showing kindness and offering friendship.
Pellico (Princess Sabrina and the Pot of Gold, among other titles) does an admirable job of illuminating lessons of kindness for the young elementary crowd, although parents may find the low-key plot anticlimactic. The story centers on Sabrina’s conversation with Anna— juxtaposing the value of being open to new relationships with the message that “we should treat others how we would like to be treated”—and feels equal parts amusing and banal. Younger audiences will commiserate with the little witch when she admits that she's unsure of her age because “witches do not celebrate birthdays,” and readers with active imaginations will find themselves celebrating when Anna showers the neighborhood gang with candy as she leaves.
Berry’s cinematic illustrations lend a lively backdrop, hinting at twilight otherworldliness and drawing out enjoyable details – from the smile of Anna’s cat to the kids’ archetypal Halloween costumes. But perhaps the most magical moment of the narrative comes from Pellico’s poetic description of Anna’s parting gift: “The leaves on the tree began to shake wildly as if they were dancing…they watched the leaves transform into all different kinds of candy and fall to the ground.” This story’s simple premise is peppered with enchanted charms.
Takeaway: An entertaining spin on a classic message of kindness, sprinkled with a little magic that will entertain younger audiences.
Great for fans of: Pat Zietlow Miller’s Be Kind, Beth Ferry’s Swashby and the Sea.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B-