‘The Witch in the Broom Cupboard (and Other Tales)’ by Pierre Gripari (Review)

IMG_5211The last review by my assistant, Emily, was not quite as positive as the others she’s done so far, but that didn’t put her off trying another book from the Pushkin Children’s Books collection.  Today’s post looks at some short stories, a collection of tales featuring giants, witches and clever little children – let’s see what Emily made of all that 🙂

What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called The Witch in the Broom Cupboard and Other Tales, and it’s by Pierre Gripari (and it’s translated by Sophie Lewis).

What’s it about?
It’s about magic and all other nonsense things.  The stories take place in the same area, and the characters are in two or three stories sometimes.  Some of the stories are scary, some of the stories are funny and some of the stories are in between 🙂

Did you like it?  Why (not)?
I wasn’t so sure about the first story – it was very gross!  But I liked all the other ones because they were mostly silly and sometimes funny.

What was your favourite story?
My favourite story was ‘The Giant Who Wore Red Socks’.  It’s a story about a giant who fell in love with a lady who was not a giant, so in a year he had to shrink, and he was granted three wishes.  I liked this one because it was funny, especially the bits where he had to travel.

I also liked ‘Scoobidoo, the Doll Who Could See Everything’.  It’s about a boy who has a doll that is very strange.  If he wants to play dominoes with the doll, he either blindfolds her or leaves her as she is.  If he blindfolds her, she will always win – she can grant wishes and see into the future and the past!

Was it difficult to read?
No, just the names and the places.

Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls?  Why (not)?
I would recommend it to fans of gross things!

Emily, thank you very much.

I was a tad concerned at first as my little girl (obsessed as she is with dancing and fairies, preferably dancing fairies) was not overly taken, as she mentioned above, with the first story (‘The Witch of Rue Mouffetard’).  Of course, I can’t really blame her:

Now, a little girl whose name was Nadia happened to be living in the very same neighbourhood as the witch.  She was the eldest daughter of Papa Sayeed (perhaps you know him?), who kept the cafe-grocer’s on rue Broca.
     “I shall have to eat Nadia,” the witch decided.
‘The Witch of Rue Mouffetard’, p.10 (Pushkin Children’s Press, 2015)

The choice of Nadia is because the child’s name has to begin with ‘N’ for the spell the witch is planning to work.  If the author had chosen the letter ‘E’, I fear Emily wouldn’t have got past this page…

Luckily, though, the remaining stories, bizarre as they are, steer clear of potential cannibalism, and Emily was happy to spend time in Gripari’s unusual imagination.  With witches, giants, pigs and a talkative potato, there’s something here for everyone – well, apart from those looking for strict realism – with some excellent illustrations courtesy of Puig Rosado.

As usual, Pushkin have selected a top-class translator, Sophie Lewis, whose work I’ve tried before in the shape of the Marcel Aymé collection, The Man Who Walked through Walls.  If you’re going to do this translated children’s fiction thing , you may as well do it properly, and there’s no doubt that Pushkin have taken their venture very seriously (the only way to ensure that something is fun!).

Another success, then, even if my daughter really prefers chapter books to short story collections (obviously, genetics are at play there…).  Here’s hoping for further interesting books in the future, more classics from overseas translated for the benefit of our children…

…although I hope they don’t contain too many children-eating witches 😉

2 thoughts on “‘The Witch in the Broom Cupboard (and Other Tales)’ by Pierre Gripari (Review)

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