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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Arthur and the Witch
by Johanne Mercier
Age Range: 6-8
Arthur, the narrator of the story is seven years old and while staying with his grandparents’ house near Picket Lake discovers a secret hoard of blueberries. He picks lots of them as a surprise for Grandma and also eats a lot too! What Arthur isn’t prepared for is his Grandma’s reaction when he tells her where he found the blueberries. It transpires that Arthur has only gone and picked blueberries from the witch’s house at the end of the lake. Now she is going to get angry and who knows what may happen! As ever, Cousin Eugene comes up with a master plan.
The ‘Arthur’ stories by French Canadian author Johanne Mercier are full of quirky characters and understated humour. Everything is seen through Arthur’s eyes which will appeal directly to young readers. The language is easily accessible to children but contains a degree of irony that will be enjoyed by adults too, and this is due in no small part to an excellent translation by award-winning translator Daniel Hahn. The amusing black and white illustrations by Clare Elsom help to accentuate the wit of the text.
This series of stories about Arthur are sure to become a firm favourite with any seven-year-old. Each story is separate but many of the themes follow on to the next book so it is a good idea to start with book one - Arthur and the Mystery of the Egg. Other titles in the series are: Arthur and the Earthworms, Arthur and Guard Dog,Arthur and the Yeti and Arthur and the Ice Rink