Review of Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest

Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest
by Phoebe Wahl; illus. by the author
Primary    Tundra    96 pp.    g
9/21    978-0-7352-6489-2    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-0-7352-6490-8    $10.99

In four stories, one for each season, we follow the adventures of Little Witch Hazel, a sturdy, rosy-cheeked forest dweller with a bevy of woodland friends — gnomes, fairies, trolls, owls, mice, frogs, and newts. The tales recall classic nursery stories (a rescued animal who later repays the kindness; a parade of creatures that gets longer and longer as everyone joins in a quest) and as such have just the right amount of tension for the audience. (What could be making the eerie noises coming from the hollow tree? Will Hazel become lost in a blizzard?) Apart from a pointed hat, there is nothing particularly witchy about Hazel. Rather, she seems to be a kind of community-health carer, seeing to an abandoned owl’s egg, a chipmunk with a toothache, a postpartum rabbit mother. Wahl’s (The Blue House, rev. 7/20) digital art, in deep earth tones, has the retro look of wood-block prints and contains plenty of details to pore over. An endpaper map of the whole of Mosswood Forest serves to remind readers of the journey just taken and the pleasures of this tight-knit neighborhood in miniature.

From the January/February 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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