Additional Book Information

Series: The New York Review Children's Collection
Pages: 144
Publication Date: September 8, 2015

The Little Witch

by Otfried Preussler, illustrated by Winnie Gebhardt-Gayler, translated from the German by Anthea Bell

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“Once upon a time there was a little witch who was only a hundred and twenty-seven years old”—that’s how the story of the little witch and her talking raven Abraxas begins, and though one hundred and twenty-seven isn’t at all old for a witch, Little Witch already has a big problem. Every year, on Walpurgis Night, all the witches of the land meet to dance on Brocken Mountain. Little Witch is still too little to be invited, but this year she decided to sneak in anyway—and got caught by her evil aunt Rumpumpel! Little Witch is in disgrace. Her broomstick has been burned. She’s been made to walk home. She’s been told that she has a year to pull off some seriously good witchcraft if she wants to be invited to Walpurgis Night ever. And then there’s an even bigger problem: What after all does it mean to be a good witch? One way or another, by the end of the story, Little Witch will have proved herself to be the biggest and best witch of all. 

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otfried preussler preußler, translated from the German by Anthea Bell, illustrated by Winnie Gebhardt-Gayler


First published in 1957, this story of a young witch who’s itching to become part of the grown-up witch world has a sprightly tone and a feel that’s somewhere between fairy tale and Harry Potter. That’s a sweet spot for magic-loving children just beginning to read on their own, and you don’t see many books hit it this well. (It would be a fantastic read-aloud, too.)…There’s a morally satisfying fairy-tale ending — a glorious moment of table-turning that speaks to our pent-up frustration at the arbitrary rules of the universe that put mean people in charge. The illustrations — charming, scratchy black-and-white line drawings by Winnie Gebhardt-Gayler — seem like they could have been done yesterday.
—Maria Russo, The New York Times Book Review

Mr. Preussler’s books were read aloud to generations of German children. They adored his characters.
—Douglas Martin, The New York Times

Elements of folklore in Preussler’s books are intertwined with conversations, funny dialogue, discussions of old and young, and angry disputes that are rooted in the everyday life of families and school. Preussler revealed… that he possessed an almost inexhaustible fantasy, an unfailing sense of humor and situation comedy. German children between the ages of four and twelve are still his fans.
—Horst Kunneman, Bookbird

Praise for Krabat and the Sorcerer’s Mill

One of my favorite books.
—Neil Gaiman

In Preussler’s masterpiece, the terror is real, the love sweet, and the suspense twisted tight.
—J. Alison James