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IMWAYR: The Witch's Boy

Monday Linky from Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers!

The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill

I started reading this book aloud with my student's at the end of the school year.  However, it was so long, we didn't get to finish it.  As the summer began, I forgot about it!  I was reminded by a student I was chatting with on Edmodo.  Over the summer, I check in with them that way.  Well, since she reminded me, I picked it up again to finish it during my downtime at #TPTVegas15.

This book is about love, loss, grief, forgiveness, friendship and most of all magic.  It centers around Ned.  Ned is a twin who tragically lost his twin in a boat ride on the river.  Unbeknownst to Ned, his mother, the Sister Witch, gathered Tam's soul as it was leaving the earth and tethered it to Ned's as she was healing him.    The consequence of this was Ned lost his facility with language- he could no longer read nor speak without stuttering.  The townspeople considered him the "wrong boy" as in the wrong boy was saved.

“But as the years passed, Ned's silence grew and grew. It pressed upon his face and his body. It leaked into the house and spread outward into the yard. His silence had weight. It had substance and presence and teeth.” 

Another central character is Aine.  She loses her mother early in the tale.  Her mother was the only thing keeping her father on the straight and narrow.  See, he was a bandit before he met her.  Now with her gone, he returns to his ways of banditry.  He takes Aine from their village to live in the mysterious forest.

Central to the book is magic.  Magic comes in various forms and can be benevolent and mean.  People in the story want it: the bandit and the King.  Ned is the unwilling host to one form.  

“A lightning bolt erupted from the cloud and aimed directly at Ned’s heart. He couldn’t cry out. He couldn’t even move. He could just feel the magic sink into his skin and spread itself over every inch of him, bubbling and slithering and cutting deep, until he didn’t know where the magic stopped and he began.”

This book is a beautiful fairy tale with heroes and villains.  There is even a wolf who befriends both Ned and Aine.  It's a beautiful story that will give you a lot to think about.  Give it a try.

The Witch's Boy has won many accolades:

A 2015 ALSC Notable Children’s Book
A Washington Post Best Book of 2014
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014
A Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of 2014
A Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” 2014

Twitter: @Lisa_teacher

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