Witch Watch: Poem

Paul Coltman, Author, Paul McClure, Author, Gillian McClure, Illustrator Farrar Straus Giroux $14 (28p) ISBN 978-0-374-38461-6
In eerily beautiful paintings, the story of a suspected witch's business unfolds, as a Cockney boy hides in a ditch to spy on his neighbor. The old woman nabs him and forces him to help with a peculiar assortment of chores. After gathering sticks in a creepy wood, the two scour fetid swamps in search of turnips. `` 'Ere, you scoop this out for yer Hallowe'en lamp,'' advises the craggy lady. Later when she calls her pet hog by the name of the legendary terror, Baba Yag, the frightened lad races home. This fanciful rhyming exultation, told from the boy's point of view, is laced liberally with dialect and English slang like `` 'oppin orf,'' not to mention the more familiar ``bloomin' '' and ``Cor.'' The total effect is wondrously rich, jagged syntax notwithstanding. The odd story is complemented by McClure's equally unusual and compelling pictures filled with myriad images that spring from the boy's tormented imaginings. Teams of hens pulling hags on broomsticks, haunting dead sunflowers with drooping heads, and punk witches sporting Mohawk haircuts are among some of the bizarre visual prizes contained in this striking book. Ages 3-up. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
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