Friday, June 22, 2012
Diana Wynne Jones passed away last year. (Read Neil Gaiman's journal.) Earwig and the Witch , Greenwillow Books 2012, has the distinction of being her final book. It clocks in at a jaunty 128 pages, including full page illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky, and is marketed for ages 8 and up. It really would make an excellent read aloud for even younger children.
There is so much to love:
Earwig, a feisty orphan with and a penchant for getting people to do what she wants,
A mean witch for a foster parent,
A demon for the other,
Thomas the talking cat,
A house with magic rooms,
Spells gone awry,
Several references to (British) food.
As enjoyable as this story is on its own, readers will pick up on several loose ends like Earwig's witch parents who left a note about coming back for her, Earwig's BFF Custard who is still at the orphanage, and what will Earwig do now that she is also capable of magic. Perhaps Diana Wynne Jones planned a sequel. Maybe there's a manuscript somewhere out there. (Sing it with me Fievel .."beneath the pale moonlight. Some-one's thinking of me and loving me tonight." /silliness) Still, the story works on its own merits and kids can imagine all the future hijinks Earwig and her crew cook up.