Review of The Witch of Woodland

The Witch of Woodland The Witch of Woodland
by Laurel Snyder
Intermediate, Middle School    Walden Pond/HarperCollins    304 pp.
5/23    9780062836656    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780062836670    $10.99

Becoming a bat mitzvah is not something Zipporah “Zippy” Chava McConnell had ever considered. Now almost thirteen, she’s surprised by her mom’s insistence that she at least give tutoring with Rabbi Dan a try. Reluctant at first, Zippy, a self-proclaimed witch (“Spells spring from me. And with them, I can handle the world”), becomes interested after discovering a link to the supernatural—and then a girl with mysterious abilities appears in the woods. In a generally lighthearted, self-aware narration, Zippy describes investigating the girl’s identity; exploring Judaism (with a few textual Hebrew errors); and feuding with her best friend, among others. Occasional direct address (“Okay, I don’t want to sound obnoxious, but wasn’t that good? Didn’t that sound like something from a real book?”) and explanation (“now we’ve come to the part in the story where I need to tell you a little more about the Torah”) keep readers engaged in Zippy’s quest for answers. Though some of those necessarily remain ambiguous, the protagonist—and readers—can appreciate the wisdom of Rabbi Dan: “The world is full of questions, things we’ll never be certain of…but for me, the journey, the search for answers, is as satisfying as the answers themselves. Questions can be beautiful. Mysteries can bind us to each other.”

Pubissue-From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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