The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
A modern classic today for 5-8 readers!
Mildred Hubble is the Worst Witch for a reason. She’s clumsy, her spells always go wrong and even her cat isn’t right – he’s scared of heights and is a lovely grey tabby, rather than the traditional black! This doesn’t stop Mildred though, as she studies with her best friend Maud at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches and gets on the wrong side of resident snoot, Ethel. And of course, Mildred being Mildred, it isn’t long before her knack for clumsiness is getting her into a whole world of trouble. But when she leaves the Academy after a broomstick ride goes horribly wrong, will she find herself jumping out of the frying pan, and into the fire?
I loved this series when I was first getting into reading. After all, what little girl isn’t partway clumsy, a bit of an outsider, a great chewer (as Mildred is) of plaits? Which little girl isn’t the kind of little girl who receives the tabby cats of life? Mildred is a great heroine in that she always manages to come out on top, despite her clumsiness and ill-thought out plans. She means well, she’s kind and she has the support of some great friends such as Maud Moonshine and (later in the series) Enid Nightshade.
Ethel is a great baddie too – snide and sneering, she constantly looks like a bad smell has been waved under her nose. Her snide remarks about Mildred (perhaps not rightly, but satisfyingly) leads Mildred to turn her into a pig (it was supposed to be a frog, but no matter) and a great rivalry is born. Ethel will crop up in each of the Worst Witch adventures, never missing an opportunity to get Mildred into hot water.
The books are often in fairly large print and chapters are short and broken up neatly with rather lovely illustrations (I love how Mildred’s big black bootlaces are almost always undone). Each character is lovingly drawn and even now I still remember each of Mildred’s cohorts – short stumpy blonde Maud, tall and athletic Enid (with her monkey familiar, rather than a cat) and the terrifying tall, thin and hairbun-ned Miss Hardbroom, the terror of Miss Cackle’s Academy and always a step ahead in sniffing out Mildred’s mistakes (yet somehow blind to Ethel’s mischief).
Even better, with a whole series dedicated to Mildred Hubble budding readers can happily plow through the whole set once they’ve fallen in love with the erstwhile klutz. Added bonus!
Find Mildred here
Check the series order here