Whenever I pick up a delicious new Book Island title, I know for certain that I’m going to discover a story told in a wonderfully unique and captivating manner.
So often we read picture books where it is the young protagonist who learns a lesson during the course of the story – learning to share, or to be brave for example. Well, Brigittee Minne turns this wonderfully on its head – in Witchfairy it’s the parent who has a lesson to learn, who grows and becomes a better person by the end of the story. How refreshing! I can think of many examples of adults behaving badly… I’m sure they could learn a thing or two from little ones.
Young Rosemary is fed up with life as a fairy – fairies have to be so careful, and clean, and tidy and… everything that a witch doesn’t have to be. Rosemary would much rather be a witch, much to the shock and horror of her mother.
‘ ‘I don’t want a witch for a daughter,’ her mum snapped.
‘I want a fairy who is sweet and neat.’ ‘
Both mother and daughter are spirited characters, and so mum sends her daughter off to live in the forest with the witches. Whilst mum is convinced Rosemary will return, she has underestimated her daughter’s strength of character, and ultimately the fact that Rosemary truly does know her own mind. She knows where she belongs, and she knows where her true destiny lies.
Does mum come round to the idea, how does it end? Well, the ending is exquisitely heartwarming, but as for the details I highly recommend you delve in for yourself to take a look.
Carll Cneutt’s illustrations – wow! – where to begin. They really develop the tone of this picture book. They show the pressure Rosemary feels under as all she’s being told how she should act – the fairies surrounding her are shown from only from the neck up emphasising how loud and suffocating their opinions are for Rosemary. One of my favourite double page spreads is the one depicting Rosemary on her boat – she is looking out, to the future, keen to discover more.
Witchfairy, from Brigitte Minne and Carll Cneut, is a captivating tale.