The Witch’s Guide to Cooking With Children by Keith McGowan

Schema: Hansel and Gretel , step-mothers, fairy tales, science fairs

Big Idea: Good vs. evil

The publisher offers a detailed reading guide for teachers that includes vocabulary,  poetry,  and writing responses.

Text-to-Self Connections: sibling rivalry, bullying, moving to a new apartment, visiting the library

Author’s purpose: to entertain

Cause and Effect: Because an inheritance was at stake, the effect is that the children’s lives were in peril.

Because the dog, Swift, followed commands, the effect is he brought the children a knife to free themselves.

Because the children’s so called “parents” wanted to have them killed and eaten by the witch, the effect is that the children had to find a way to escape.

Because the children had access to the library and the Internet, the effect is that they were able to do some research to help themselves.

Because the pet shop owner rushed them out the back door of her shop, the effect was that they stayed one step ahead of the witch.

Drawing Conclusions: What conclusion did the children come to after seeing Swift with the bone and then reading the witch’s journal?

Inference: What do you infer happened to the children’s real father?

Point of View: The story is told mainly from Sol’s POV.

Predicting: At the end of the book as the children walk away all alone, where to you think they will go first when they get to their new town?  Based on what they did in the story, they might visit their public library.  I predict they just might be very quiet in the library and stay away from the librarians too!

Synthesis: The readers will synthesize that the author has created a modern day version of Hansel and Gretel.  Ask them to further synthesize by creating a modern day version of a different fairy tale.

Satire, making fun of certain causes or situations is also seen in the book when the author says the children’s real mother was drowned while investigating global warming when the ice she was standing on melted.

Although the topic of this book is controversial, the author uses no foul language, and good does win over evil.  Although many children that have been eaten previously, they are mentioned in the witch’s journal to set the premise.  Even in the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, the reader infers that other children have been enticed to enter the witch’s candy house and have been eaten.

Book Talk: Bring a copy of a cookbook with the similar red and white plaid cover to compare with this one and ask,

What would you do if you thought your parents were planning to give you to a witch who wanted to eat you?  Would you be suspicious if you saw a neighborhood dog holding a very large bone in its mouth?  Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were kidnapped? Do you want to read a book that will give you nightmares?  Well, here’s that scary book you been asking for!

You know the old fairy tale Hansel and Gretel…that mean old step-mother that sends her step-children off into the woods, hungry, just looking for something to eat.  What if instead of sending you off to find fire wood, they just dropped you off at the mall and disappeared leaving you in a new neighborhood lost and confused?  The kids in this book are too smart to fall for that.  They know how to use their public library and the Internet.





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