December 17, 2018, by Sunita Tailor
Book Review: The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
This blog was written by first year English student, Sasha Gardener.
With the release of the latest book in Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch series (First Prize for The Worst Witch), fans of all ages have been revisiting these delightful stories recounting the trials and triumphs of Mildred Hubble, the most disaster-prone witch Cackle’s Academy has ever seen. The original book was published in 1974, well before J.K Rowling had begun to think up The Philosopher’s Stone, yet the two have a lot in common. We follow Mildred through her first year of witching school, where she tries (and fails) to teach her cat to fly, quarrels with her nasty potions teacher, and eventually saves the school from a terrible plot.
I love the magic of this book, but most of all I love the parts of it which are not magic at all – Mildred’s close friendship with the sensible Maud Spellbody, her fondness for animals and propensity for disaster all make her a loveable protagonist. Unlike Harry Potter, Mildred isn’t new to the world of magic, and so the reader is given an insight into the academy from the perspective of an ordinary student, and can imagine just what it is like to sleep in a school with no glass in the windows, and bats nesting on the curtain rails.
Murphy (who also wrote the picture book ‘Five Minute’s Peace’) makes use of her time at Chelsea Art School and accompanies the story with detailed illustrations. Reading the books as a child, I didn’t take much notice of these, but they are beautifully intricate and really do bring the story to life. This book may be aimed at younger readers, but a story as well-written and illustrated as this one deserves to be read by witches of all ages, and continues to delight every time I pick it up.