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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)
Witch in the Broom Cupboard (The)
by Pierre Gripari
Age Range: 9-11
These whimsical, witty and sometimes absurd fairy tales are a selection of six stories by French author Pierre Gripari from The Good Little Devil and Other Stories, published by Pushkin Children’s Books in a hardback edition in 2013.
Similar in structure to the classic fairy tale, with all the expected ingredients of fairies, witches, mermaids, kings etc., the stories turn out to be not quite what you would expect.
Meet a witch who wants to become young and beautiful; the Giant who wears magic red socks; a doll with magical powers; a witch who lives in a broom cupboard and who will only venture out if you sing ‘Witchy witch beware, Watch out for your derrière!’; the love story of a potato and a pig that swallow a star.
There is something quaintly old-fashioned about these funny and farcical tales. They have a strong moral overtone - kindness is always rewarded and evil is punished. Written in the 1960s by Gripari, (1925-1990), they are very popular in France with both adults and children having been handed down from generation to generation.
Known as Monsieur Pierre, (as the author explains in the afterword of the book), many of his stories resulted from weekly story-telling sessions with a group of children at a boulevard café near his Paris home. When Monsieur Pierre had run out of telling them all the traditional stories that he had grown up with, he and the children made up some brand-new ones.
The tales are brought to life by the comical cartoon-like black and white illustrations of Puig Rosado who illustrated the original stories when they were first published. The translation by Sophie Lewis has captured the essence of Monsieur Pierre’s storytelling making this a truly timeless collection for children (and adults) everywhere.