Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Witch Next Door

Happy October! Another fun childrens' book that had a profound effect on me was THE WITCH NEXT DOOR - a sweet Scholastic paperback from 1965. I acquired this book circa 1970 through the school book club and it's been in my library ever since.The story is told from the point of view of a brother and sister who befriend a green-haired witch who moves into their neighborhood. The witch soon paints her house black, hangs her all-black laundry out to dry, and casts some harmless spells. The nameless enchantress throws wild witch parties and has the neighborhood kids over for tea and cookies. She's a bit different, but a very good neighbor. Unfortunately there's some (obviously Republican) folks who want the witch to leave. These intolerant bigots look past all the good things about the sorceress and declare that they "don't want witches in our neighborhood." Fuck them, I say!
Our witchy friend at first responds with anger, as do the neighborhood children–but then casts a terrible spell on them...a wonderfully terrible hex which transforms the hateful right-wingers into a handsome young royal couple! Basically - she gives them an extreme makeover–both inside and out!
When the kids ask to be turned into a prince and a princess too, the witch tells them no, they are perfect the way they are. Awwww...The End. What a incredible way to teach kids about prejudice and tolerance-in 1965! I guess TV shows of the time, BEWITCHED, THE MUNSTERS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY were all kinda sending out the same message - it's okay to be different or eccentric. I guess that message became a way of life for me. Thanks Norman Bridwell!


gerbmom said...

ha ha ha ha ha! I STILL have that book! :)

Anonymous said...

i love-love-loved that book and checked it out multiple times from the van nuys library...

a halloween-esque titled book 4th grade i still own, and recently reread, is the phantom tollbooth. wonderful illustrations and such a sweet story!