THE WITCH’S BOY by Kelly Barnhill is an imaginative fantasy combining an engaging adventure with classic story elements. Without the wands of Harry Potter fame or the black caldrons of classic witch tales, the magic in this story comes alive to readers as a haunting, volatile character.
The plot revolves around the son of a witch who escapes near-drowning only to be bound by a dangerous magic and the daughter of a bandit who is also subject to magic’s dark side. Both boys and girls alike will be drawn to the characters of Ned and Áine, while animal lovers will enjoy the young wolf. From small villages and grand castles to the enormous boulders awakened in the dark woods, the setting plays a central role in this enchanting story.
Barnskill’s skillful prose makes this an excellent choice for read-aloud, however it may be a bit slow and wordy for some children.
This book is an excellent opportunity for teacher librarians to think about magical themes in their library collection. Rather than lumping everything into the classic fairy tale or the world of medieval wizards, consider the broad range of magical elements that attract young readers. It’s also important to examine books for potential as read-alouds.
To learn more about the author, go to Kelly Barnhill’s blog at http://kellybarnhill.wordpress.com/.
Publisher ARC used for review