Tuesday, July 18, 2023

*Review* The Witch of Woodland by Laurel Snyder


Genre: Middle Grade/Coming of Age
Published: May 16, 2023
Pages: 303

A young girl preparing for her bat mitzvah discovers she has mysterious abilities in this magical contemporary coming-of-age story from the beloved author of Orphan Island.

Hi, whoever is reading this. I’m Zipporah Chava McConnell, but everyone calls me Zippy.

Things used to be simple—until a few weeks ago. Now my best friend, Bea, is acting funny; everyone at school thinks I’m weird; and my mom is making me start preparing for my bat mitzvah, even though we barely ever go to synagogue. In fact, the only thing that still seems to make sense is magic.

See, the thing is, I’m a witch. I’ve been casting spells since I was little. And even if no one else wants to believe in magic anymore, it’s always made sense to me, always felt true. But I was still shocked the day I found a strange red book at the library and somehow...I conjured something. A girl, actually. A beautiful girl with no memory, and wings like an angel. You probably don’t believe me, but I swear it’s the truth.

Miriam is like no one else I’ve ever met. She’s proof that magic is real. And, it’s hard to explain this part, but I just know that we’re connected. That means it’s up to me to help Miriam figure out what she is and where she came from. If I can do that, maybe everything else in my life will start to make sense too.

Anyway, it’s worth a try.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This book was one that my daughter picked for me to request as part of a round of request roulette, and it's one that I was hoping she'd pick based on the title and cover. In fact, this was the only book of the five she picked for me to request that I was actually excited to read. The story itself was not at all what I was expecting based on the title and cover (I am absolutely horrible at reading blurbs before I start reading books). In spite of that, of the books my daughter picked for me to request, this is the one I most want her to read. 

I don't really know what middle school is like for students these days, but it's exactly the age my daughter is, and this story seemed to be a pretty reasonable portrayal of it. Add in the fact that my kids attend a much larger school than I ever did, and there's only so much advice I can give about navigating middle school politics (and that's pretending like my children would actually believe I know what I'm talking about in the first place). This story touches on the way friendships can change and potentially deteriorate as children grow up and learn more about themselves. But sometimes those changes can help you find yourself. 

I felt like I learned a fair bit about the Jewish tradition of Bat Mitzvah, although I'm just assuming that it's portrayed accurately, or at least potentially accurately depending on the practitioner. It's a tradition I only had a vague understanding of before I read the book, and I got to learn about it in a way that felt less like learning. 

Overall I give The Witch of Woodland 4.36 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

I've been writing pretty devotedly, in one form or fashion, since I was about seven. In the fourth grade, I announced to the world that I planned to become "rich and famous writing books and plays for children!" Then I intended to adopt every stray dog and cat in the city of Baltimore and move them all into an old mansion, not far from where I lived.

Well, I'm not rich by any means, I live in a rather small brick house, and I only have one cat, but I am (blessedly) writing books for kids, and I couldn't be more amazed or delighted.

Most days I spend with my sons (who are tiny) smeared with peanut butter, finger paint, and silly joy. But late at night, I write these books... and I hope you'll read one...

And if you like that book, (or even if you don't) I hope you'll write to me, and say hello!

No comments:

Post a Comment