Friday, October 13, 2023

Today's read... Suppose You Met a Witch by Ian Serraillier

I'm sliding even further back in time with today's read as I hit a witch story, which has been enjoyed for more than a couple decades. I'm excited to dive into this one...and no, I haven't seen it before...since it promises to be a special treat on the illustration end of things. I'm expecting a high-quality picture book, which gives young listeners an engaging tale in a way which they won't soon forget.

So, let's see if this book delivers because my expectations are soaring high.

by Ian Serraillier
Illustrated by Ed Emberley
Anthology Editions
Picture Book
ages 7 to 9
31 pages

Relates in verse how Roland and Miranda handled the situation when they were trapped in a sack by a witch.

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Grabbing illustrations mix with potent prose and just the right amount of haunting twists to make this a read to cherish year after year.

While this book begins with a child, who believes to have met a witch, it soon turns to the question of what others would do if they ran across one. Here, the story of two children, Roland and Miranda, begins and what happened when they were snatched by one. It's haunting and holds the rich threads of a fairy tale as it winds around the adventure with imagination, magic, and a tiny sense of dread. After all, no one really wants to meet a dangerous witch.

This one is worth picking up because of the artwork. The style seems chaotic at first glass but mesmerizes with details and knotted weaves. It fits the tale marvelously and will captivate not only young readers but older ones as well. It invites to flip through the pages and simply enjoy each scene. And wow, is that witch creepy.

The prose flows with traditional style and reminds of an early, story-telling era. The imagery and descriptions are well-crafted, letting the text flow with as much artistry as the illustrations. That also means that this will go over the youngest readers' heads and will even give many in the intended age group some difficulties, at times. It's still worth the read, though, since the plot is obvious, and the unknown words and phrases will stretch and boost vocabulary skills. It's a treat many will enjoy, and not just children...which also explains why it's been around and enjoyed for many decades.

All about the author and illustrator...

In 1973, artist and illustrator Ed Emberley had been prolifically creating children’s books for more than a decade when he conceived his most ambitious project to date. Suppose You Met a Witch, featuring Emberley’s signature woodcuts at their most lavish, is considered by many to be the beloved artist’s masterpiece. Sadly, the book was not a big hit at the time, and has gone on to become one of the hardest-to-find works in Emberley’s catalogue. We are delighted to have the chance to reintroduce it to a new audience.

Packed with extraordinary imagery and rich with visual wit, Suppose You Met a Witch lets us all experience what it must be like to be under a witch’s spell. Reissued for the first time since 1973, the book uses Ian Serraillier’s striking poem and Ed Emberley’s psychedelic illustrations to show us what happens when two clever and resourceful children encounter a witch in the darkest part of the wood.


Ed Emberley is the illustrator and author of over eighty books, including the bestselling Go Away, Big Green Monster! and his enormously popular “Drawing Book” series. He has received many awards and accolades, including a Caldecott Honor in 1967 for One Wide River to Cross and a Caldecott Medal in 1968 for Drummer Hoff.

Ian Serraillier (1912–1994) was a renowned English author and poet especially known for his children’s books. His wartime adventure story The Silver Sword (1956) is a beloved classic, and has been adapted twice for television. In 1948, he founded the New Windmill Series for Heinemann Educational Books with his wife, Anne, which he would co-edit for decades.

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