Title: Backyard Witch
Author: Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge
Illustrator: Deborah Marcero
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Summary: Sadie gets left behind when her two best friends go off to camp together. But in her own backyard, she meets Mrs. M, a witch, living in her old playhouse. Mrs. M is looking for her black cat and best friend who just so happens to have been turned into a bird. For the next several days, Sadie helps Mrs. M look for her cat and her bird. In the process she learns how to identify different bird species in her neighborhood. Mrs. M’s cat returns, but she never does find her friend the bird. Then it’s time for her to leave and Sadie’s friends return home from camp. As it turns out, camp was pretty lousy and Sadie actually had more fun at home than they did going away.
Literary Merit: Easy to read with short chapters. Keeps the reader guessing as to whether or not Mrs. M. is actually a witch, and even if she actually exists.
Kid Appeal: Kids will enjoy imagining that a witch might live in their backyard. Being able to learn something that does not involve spells, and maybe even questioning whether or not the witch was actually using spells, is another draw for kids and their parents.
Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.