Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Read-4-Luck (PPBF): Witches Handbook

If you missed Monday's post about the writing craft, I hope you'll take a minute to check it out. My new feature, Story Elements, focuses on the top ten elements of picture book writing. Monday's post talks about Story Element #2: Conflict

READ-4-LUCK acts as a book recommendation, book review, teaching tip, and writing lesson for children, parents, teachers, and writers. This fun weekly feature began back in October 2010 with four books. It has since evolved into one book each week. In November 2011, I joined up with Susanna Leonard Hill and her Perfect Picture Book Fridays (PPBF).  

 = Not bad. Might read twice.
 = Fun read first few times. Would get from library again.
 = Very enjoyable. Wouldn't mind owning a copy.
 = Awesome! Never tiresome for children, parents, teachers, or writers. May just have to buy it.

This week's Read-4-Luck pick is Witches Handbook written and illustrated by Monica Carretero. (Original title in Spanish: Manual de Brujas).
This handbook tells the story of a brother and sister and their Aunt Amarga. They wonder if Amarga is the last witch in the world. She proceeds to pull out a Witches Handbook and together they explore the secrets, geography, history, and nature of witches throughout the world.

Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Year: 2011
Word Count: 2,000+
Book Level: 3rd - 5th
Age: 6-10
Topic: witches, warlocks, magic, fairy tales 
Theme: imagination

First Lines:
Three days ago, my brother and I received a letter from Aunt Amarga. We hadn't heard from her for a long time and were surprised. Could she be sick? Maybe she finally wanted to meet us. Or was it simply that, as she did every year around this date, she was writing to wish us a Happy Halloween? But this time was different. The letter hadn't been delivered by a mailman, but an enormous crow so black it was truly frightening.


Fun pictures. Fun activities in the back. Maybe show children the back first so they'll pay better attention and remember how to recognize and identify the different kinds of witches. Definitely for older readers. Not so much for a read aloud.

Fun and interesting to see all the famous witches. I love the page "The geography of witches."

Use in a fairy tale unit, for sure! Compare the descriptions for the witches in this book to the witches from Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel. The book gives nine unknown witches, too! Could assign students to write their own fairy tale using one of the unknown witches. What fun!

Good example of how to do a creative nonfiction book. It's like it's really fiction, but reads as nonfiction. I think I'll try writing a fairy tale with one of the unknown witches. Aren't you glad I thought of it?

Which witch would you write about: Witchy San, Hallowina, Malodorous Love, The Meddler, Witch Dimwit, Dolores Batunga-tunga, Serafina the Terrible, Bad Temper Warlock, or Dona Amarga?

Be sure to visit other "perfect picture books" at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Keep on keepin' on...


  1. This sounds like a sweet and humorous book. The names of the witches make me laugh. Thanks for adding this selection, Christie. :)

  2. This sounds like a good one, Christie. I like that it's a good example for writers and that you included that info - very helpful!

  3. The names and illustrations draw me in here, Christie.

    I think your new Monday series is great BTW!

  4. I haven't read a good witch story in ages. This sounds awesome!

  5. I think I'll use Malodorous Love or Witch Dimwit.

  6. I think I would like this one! Thanks, Christie.

  7. I like books like this! I would like to read it!

  8. This sounds a fun read Christie, loved the illustration and comical names, thanks for sharing.

  9. I love witch books and creative nonfiction. Thanks for adding this one.

  10. Great book for older kids and wonderful activities, Christie! I have to tell you I LOVE your "four clover" rating system!


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