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The Witch's Walking Stickby Susan Meddaugh
Synopses & Reviews
Poor Margaret is waking up to another bad day. Ever since her parents died, her brother and sister have made her sweep the floors, chop the wood, cook the meals, feed the pigs, and anything else they can think to demand. Selfish, mean, and twice as big as Margaret, they always get their way. When at last Margaret has had enough, she runs away into the forest. Just as she is wondering how she will survive, she comes upon an old lady with a very sad story: a dog has run off with her walking stick, and she cant do a thing without it. When the old lady promises Margaret a reward of three gold coins for its safe return, the girl readily agrees. Little does Margaret know that the old lady is really a witch, her reward a trick, and her walking stick a magic stick the witch has used to make a thousand miserable wishes come true . . .
"In this comic fairy tale, a Cinderella-esque orphan flees her mean older siblings and happens upon a witch's magic walking stick. The witch typically uses the stick for 'turning birds into bats or squirrels into goldfish,' and the other creatures' anxious frowns arouse distinct anti-crone sympathies. Fortunately for the local fauna, the stick has 'just a bit of magic left' after so many bad deeds. More fortunately still, the witch shakes the stick at a friendly spotted dog, who playfully grabs it and trots away. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the forest, young Margaret has grown tired of sleeping on straw and doing chores for her bossy older siblings. She sneaks away from home just in time to find the stick and engage the pooch in a game of fetch. As in her Lulu's Hat, Meddaugh delights in humble enchanted accessories, and as in her Martha books, she can't resist a dog rescue. This book offers a bit of both, with Margaret trumping her oppressors, foiling what's left of the witch's magic and acquiring a terrific new pet. Meddaugh's ink-and-watercolor sketches capture the characters' attitudes and enhance the comedy of the writing, as when Margaret silently arches an eyebrow at the audience, preparing to confront her nasty brother. Little guys finish first, and act benevolently, in this good-natured (and good-to-nature) story. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Ever since their parents died, Margaret's brother and sister have made her do all the chores. When she's had enough, Margaret runs away. In the forest, she meets a sad old lady who says a dog has run off with her walking stick. Little does Margaret know that the old lady is really a miserable witch. Full color.
About the Author
Susan Meddaugh was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated from Wheaton College, where she studied French literature and fine arts. After working briefly with an advertising agency in New York, she moved to Boston and worked at a publishing company for ten years, first as a designer, then art editor, and finally as art director. While there, she did the illustrations for Good Stones (Houghton Mifflin) by Anne Epstein, and then decided to strike out on her own as a freelance illustrator and creator of children's books. Since that time, Susan has written and illustrated many popular books for children, including Martha Speaks, which was chosen as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book for 1992. In 1998 she was awarded the New England Book Award, given by the New England Booksellers Association to recognize a body of work. Her work also was acknowledged with a New York Times Best Illustrated Award. She lives in Sherborn, Massachusetts.
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