Tuesday 18 July 2017

Little Witch - Secrets & Spells by Aleesah Darlison (text), Christine Schiedel (illus.), Big Sky Publishing, PB RRP $14.99
ISBN: 9781925520101

Reviewed by Romi Sharp

This new mid to upper primary chapter book series delightfully enchants its readers with a light-hearted storyline of a young girl discovering her true identity as a witch. In this first instalment by award-winning author, Aleesah Darlison, twelve-year-old Courtney and her renovating-obsessed parents uncover old truths and hidden secrets in the house of her late grandmother, Delia.

Many pre-teens will relish the notion of fortuitously stumbling across a magical world of witchcraft they never thought possible. For Courtney, her journey is somewhat complicated as she grapples with feelings of isolation, self consciousness and new discoveries without the support of her parents, particularly her secretive father who masks his pain from the past. But upon unearthing a dusty spell book in her grandmother's attic, we see Courtney challenging her own fears and insecurities. Despite having never met her, Courtney finds a powerfully spiritual connection with Delia, through (somewhat haphazard) experimentation with the book, and via her wise and loyal talking cat, Ink. We watch as Courtney transitions from an inquisitive girl to a more mature, emerging witchling. Darlison neatly evolves the protagonist's strength and growth as she develops relationships with a surfer boy, Justice, and with her Dad by empowering him to understand and to forgive.

Independent readers aged 8 - 12 years will instantly feel a part of the sensational discoveries of potions, secrets and blossoming friendships. The aspect of complex family relationships is presented through realistic and age-appropriate scenarios, never too heavy, providing opportunities to discuss the importance of family unity.

Secrets and Spells contains a wonderful concoction of magical delight; a pinch of mystery, a splash of humour and a dash of young romance, entrancing its audience from start to finish. I'm looking forward to discovering how Courtney's self image and identity further develop, and how she unleashes her evolving power in the next instalment of Little Witch.

This review first appeared in Reading Time www.readingtime.com.au  Republished with permission 

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