cover image The Cold Water Witch

The Cold Water Witch

Yannick Murphy, illus. by Tom Lintern, Random/Tricycle, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58246-330-8

This would be an unsettling story if Murphy's (Baby Polar) heroine, a plucky girl in a polka-dot nightgown, weren't so comically sure of defeating the icy-fingered Cold Water Witch. Hovering over the girl's bed and dressed in a splendid white gown, the witch extends her bony fingers and says, "Come with me to where the waters run cold. Come with me to where the world is covered in snow." But the girl isn't having any of it: "You'll have to drag me," she replies. In a clever twist on Gretel's oven gambit, the girl tricks the witch into entering the icebox without her ("I smell coconut. I hear waves. Are you sure you're sending me to the frozen land?" she asks innocently), then discovers that the witch is actually a girl under a spell. Lintern's (The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Perez) spreads glow with cold light, like computer screens; their flat, cartoon feel is well suited to Murphy's eerie premise, though the pastel palette keeps things from getting too dark. It's a crooked, tense tale, but a satisfying battle of wits. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)