Essay title: The Witches
THE WITCHESWritten by……Roald DahlIllustrated by Quentin BlakePublished by, Jonathan Cape Ltd, Thirty Two, Bedford Square, London. 1983.
This book was an absolute pleasure to read, from the offset it catches your interest with its vivid description of the witches that you will meet later on in the story, told as though they could be sat right next to you as you are reading. That interest stayed with me right up until the last page. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the story unfold, meeting all of the characters and learning for myself just how far the imagination can be stretched.The story revolves around a grandmother and her grandson who have been unfortunate enough to stumble upon an annual meeting of witches at a hotel, hosted by the ever terrifying, ‘Grand High Witch’. She catches the child ear wigging and turns him into a mouse, with the help of a secret potion; he did however hear their plans to destroy all the children of England before this cruel incident. Even though he is a mouse for the last three quarters of the book, a plan is concocted with his grandmother to destroy all of the witches and save the British children from extinction.
To describe the story as powerful may be an exaggeration in terms, the story however is extremely enjoyable, and I do believe that all sorts of children of different ages would agree. The excellent imagination of Roald Dahl certainly makes the plot and characters very convincing, especially for those readers who are too young to know that those type of witches do not exist, although I can not be one hundred percent sure after reading this masterpiece.Along the way we meet some magnificent characters.
From the snotty nosed hotel owner, to the fat kid that never stops eating. My personal favourite is the Grand High Witch. The way that she is written is so convincing and the way other characters react to her, with the utmost fear and admiration is hilarious to follow. There are a variety of emotions felt with every paragraph but the way that the humour is incorporated in with the excitement, fear and danger is superb.Another factor which adds to the enjoyment of this book is the way in which the text is laid out; simple and larger than your average novel.
This made reading The Witches a lot more appealing than if it were just block text. For many children it may be daunting to see page after page of purely just text. There are twenty two chapters and two hundred and eight pages. This breaks the story up into just under ten pages per chapter, much easier to digest and at the end of each chapter this could be considered an achievement for a child to have read so much.I often enjoyed completing each chapter as well; the titles would become more and more ridiculous as the book continued.
‘Frizzled like a Fritter’ and ‘The Mouse- Burglar’ are just two examples of what kept me smiling.The most simple ideas such as writing a poem in a zig zag pattern across the page and interrupting text with the most child friendlyillustrations, made the experience of reading this book, again, all the more pleasurable. They added to the images conjured in the mind, almost like a reassurance that what you are picturing in your head is actually not far off from what Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake want you to be picturing.There are so many times throughout the book when a situation or person is being described, then as you turn the page, there it is confirmed.
The pictures are by no means worthy of hanging in a gallery and at first glance appear not to have had much thought gone into them. I can only assume that they are drawn from a child’s perspective, by an adult and therefore what is the need for shadowing or proportion.You certainly need an imagination for this book, it is so well written and these drawings that appear at the right place and at the right time on every few pages do certainly help, especially with describing objects that do not exist, for example, ‘The beak of a blabbersnitch’ which was needed for the secret, shrinking-mouse potion.
For the most part, the language is extremely easy to follow; there is however a speech impediment attached to the Grand High Witch. ‘You may rree-mooff your vigs!’ she told the other witches as the meeting commenced. As she spoke, I did occasionally have to double take at the words where the W had been replaced with a V, to fully understand what the word said. Once I got the hang of her language though, this simply added to her character and became a rather funny and I thought original way to character build. Another.