Friday, 29 July 2011

Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones (Children's, 5 years, 10/10E)

June 2011, Harper Collins Children's
142 pages, Hardback
Review copy 

Children's, 5 years + 

Life as an orphan, magic, cruel witch, strange beings, talking cat, solving problems, independent learning, making life easier, lots of humour, contains plenty of worms (including pictures so you may wish to cover them up like I did)

Summary from Harper Collins

Everyone knows that orphanages are horrible places. But Earwig has a surprising amount of power over everyone else at St Morwald’s Home for Children, and loves it there. So the last thing she wants is to be sent to live with the very strange Bella Yaga…

Earwig was left at St Morwald's as a baby. Unlike the other children, she loves it there, mostly because she has the run of the place and seems to be able to persuade people to do as she wants. Then one day Earwig is chosen to live with a very strange couple: Bella Yaga, her new 'mother', is actually a horrible witch. Earwig will need all her ingenuity (and some help from a talking cat) to survive… With terrific line drawings that perfectly complement Diana’s witty, magical story, this is sure to appeal to a new generation of fans.

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Earwig...she is extremely determined to live life the way she wants, she perseveres to change her situation, and takes everything in her stride. 

How evil/nasty is the enemy? With a witch ready to punish Earwig and the talking cat with worms, I don't think you can get worse than that! 

Are there lots of plot twists and surprises? I couldn't really guess what would happen, so it was all a nice surprise. A lot of the time I laughed, although the worms made me queasy (I really don't like them or anything else that wiggles). 

One of my favourite parts was...when Earwig discovered the cat could talk - it was sweet because it meant she had a friend when she thought she was all alone. 

Diana Wynne Jones was an awesome writer, who died in March this year (2011). I haven't read many of her books - I first learnt about her when I saw the anime Howl's Moving Castle (which is very awesome). I've read the first Howl book by her, and it's really funny, the spirit of her writing is interpreted well in the film. There's a website for her here. It's quite incredible that she had written another book before she died - I think this would have made a brilliant series. 
Suggested reads
For hilarious witch antics check out Pongwiffy and the Holiday of Doom by Kaye Umansky

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