Halloween book number four: Only a Witch can Fly by Alison Mcghee, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo.
You've probably already come across this book but just in case you haven't I thought I'd review it here because it's really worth knowing about.
When I first got this book (which was Christmas 2011) for some reason I didn't pay it that much attention. I have no idea why! Maybe it was overshadowed by other presents of maybe it was just because I was in too much of a Christmassy mood to read about witches... Anyway, when I picked it up again some time later this year it had a completely different effect on me. This time I really found myself sucked in to the mysterious and eerie but also comforting atmosphere.
The story follows a young witch girl who hasn't yet flown a broom. One night she wakes up and creeps out of the house to try.
'You stroke dear Cat and slip from your home,
your home in the woods by the fire,
cauldren and hat, brown velvet Bat,
the too-small robe you once wore.'
The whole story (which is written as a sestina) has a feeling of quiet anticipation to it. It also has a lulling sort of quality to it that makes you feel like whispering and creeping around. This is helped along by the illustrations which are rendered beautifully in brown, green and black. These colours lend themselves very well to dark shadowy night time scenes.
Of course the little witch does end up being able to fly and there are some fantastic sceens of her flying way up above the dark moonlit fields and across the starry sky. It makes you as the reader really really wish you could just get on a broomstick and fly away too!
And then, at the end, the little witch lands back to earth to be greeted by her family who have all woken up and got out of their beds. This adds to that comforting and 'safe' feel which is important to have in a picture book.