The Okay Witch

Aladdin. Sept. 2019. 272p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781534431461; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781534431454.
Gr 4-8–With her frizzy hair, her gap teeth, and her lack of friends, 13-year-old Moth Hush doesn’t fit in at school. She discovers why she doesn’t belong—she’s not like everyone else. As her powers activate for the first time, Moth learns that she’s from a family of witches. Moth’s mother, herself a former witch who gave up her powers, reveals their family’s dark past of the 1600s witch hunts and forbids Moth from practicing her abilities. But when Moth obtains a talking-cat familiar and the diary her mother kept as a teen, she is forced to confront witch hunters, ancient family drama, and, worst of all, irritating school bullies. Steinkellner’s debut graphic novel is a tour de force of middle grade storytelling. The wordy, quirky, character-rich dialogue and emotional narrative guide readers through what’s simultaneously a coming-of-age tale, a mother-daughter story, and a supernatural roller coaster. Conflicts with bullies and witch hunters evoke themes of inclusion and diversity vs. ignorance and fear. Fans of Steven Universe and the “Cucumber Quest” books will adore the energetic art. This title has a deceptively low page count; younger readers might miss many deeper themes.
VERDICT A must-have for libraries that serve middle graders, but recommended for comics fans of all ages.

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