It should come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I am an enormous fan of books about witches. Obviously, when I first heard of Picklewitch and Jack, I knew I was going to fall in love with this charming rascal of a witch and her uptight, brainbox friend – and I did!
Book: Picklewitch and Jack by Claire Barker, illustrated by Teemu Juhani
Read before: No
Ownership: Paperback purchased from Mostly Books.
This book is adorable. It’s a story about learning to celebrate the differences between friends, and how a different outlook on life can sometimes make things so much better. It’s also a madcap romp that is just completely joyful to read! Jack is a bit of a goody-two-shoes whose life is totally shaken up when Picklewitch, a wild, bold, mischievous witch decides to make him her best friend. Chaos, of course, ensues (as well as a lot of cake!).
I have a confession to make: I was such a Jack as a kid. Overachieving teacher’s pet, needing everything to be organised perfectly and go to plan, desperate for friends but somehow not really able to connect with them. I didn’t find my Picklewitches til university, but I found it super easy to identify with Jack’s experience here. His frustration at her antics is so believable, and it’s utterly hilarious looking back with hindsight and knowing that’s exactly how I would have reacted. Some kids may find him uptight and irritating to begin with, but watching him learn to embrace the joy with which Picklewitch lives is glorious.
And Picklewitch! Oh, Picklewitch. What a whizz-banger of a character you is! Even better than a raspberry slice! I loved the way that she spoke, in a strange witchy slang that’s almost reminiscent of Roald Dahl, but less twee. I loved her self-confidence and her ability to always believe that she was the best possible person for any situation. I loved her glee at finding a friend, and her pesky tricks, and her utter conviction in her self-worth. What a heroine for kids to look up to. Yes, she’s naughty, but she’s also just Picklewitch, and a Picklewitch is a great thing to be. She is Megatronic not only at magic, but also at being the best friend ever. Oh, I just loved her!
The book itself is lavishly illustrated with fun scenes that capture the madcap energy of the writing perfectly. There’s a lot of textual emphasis with all-caps sections, italics, and witchy fonts, so it would be great for a younger reader (though I love a bit of fun on the page too!). I love the extras at the back, with Picklewitch’s ‘Dictionary of Wurds’ and the excerpts from her ‘Grim’. As a kid I would have been all over the included spells, and been trying to Bamboozle people for weeks…
This is the perfect kids’ book, and one of my very favourites I’ve read this year. It’s definitely going to become a comfort reread for me when I’m feeling ill, and I can’t wait to see if Jack and Picklewitch have any more adventures. I might be a whole grown-up ladywoman, but I thinks you is the kipper’s knickers, Picklewitch! You can steal my cakes any day. Five out of five Picklewitches!