The Witches by Roald Dahl

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The Witches is arguably the Roald Dahl book most frequently banned in American libraries. I’m against banning books in principle, and I wouldn’t hesitate to give this book to a child—but I would certainly want to discuss its implications with the kid afterwards.


This is not a fairy tale. This is about real witches.

Grandmamma loves to tell about witches. Real witches are the most dangerous of all living creatures on earth. There's nothing they hate so much as children, and they work all kinds of terrifying spells to get rid of them. Her grandson listens closely to Grandmamma's stories—but nothing can prepare him for the day he comes face-to-face with The Grand High Witch herself!


About Roald Dahl

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Roald (pronounced "Roo-aal") was born in Llandaff, South Wales. He had a relatively uneventful childhood and was educated at Repton School. During World War II he served as a fighter pilot and for a time was stationed in Washington, D.C.. Prompted by an interviewer, he turned an account of one of his war experiences into a short story that was accepted by the Saturday Evening Post, which were eventually collected in Over to You (1946). Dahl's stories are often described as horror tales or fantasies, but neither description does them justice. He has the ability to treat the horrible and ghastly with a light touch, sometimes even with a humorous one. His tales never become merely shocking or gruesome. His purpose is not to shock but to entertain, and much of the entertainment comes from the unusual twists in his plots, rather than from grizzly details. Dahl has also become famous as a writer of children's stories. In some circles, these works have cased great controversy. Critics have charged that Dahl's work is anti-Semitic and degrades women. Nevertheless, his work continues to be read: Charlie and Chocolate Factory (1964) was made into a successful movie, and his books of rhymes for children continue to be very popular. Award-winning illustrator and children's author, Quentin Blake was born in 1932. His first drawings were published in "Punch" when he was 16. He has illustrated almost 300 titles some in collaboration with famous writers such as Russell Hoban, John Yeoman and Roald Dahl. He is the creator of characters such as Mister Magnolia and Mrs. Armitage. His works have earned him numerous awards including the Whitbread Award, the Kate Greenaway Medal, the Emil/Kurt Maschler Award, the Bologna Ragazzi Prize, and in 2002 the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration. In 1999, he was selected as the First Children's Laureate.
Published August 16, 2007 by Puffin Books. 208 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Witches
All: 7 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 0


Above average
on Oct 16 2011

By a talky, roundabout route, Dahl slyly (if deterringly) takes the narrator--ostensibly himself at seven--into the delicious, ambiguous situation of being a mouse-boy. . . who turns the tables on his tormentors.

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Above average
Reviewed by Mari Ness on Feb 14 2013

The Witches is arguably the Roald Dahl book most frequently banned in American libraries. I’m against banning books in principle, and I wouldn’t hesitate to give this book to a child—but I would certainly want to discuss its implications with the kid afterwards.

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Things Mean a Lot

Reviewed by Ana S on May 19 2009

One of the many, many things I love about Roald Dahl is the fact that his stories are not tame. He’s not afraid to go there, wherever “there” might be. He’s wild, surprising, unlikely and slightly macabre, and that makes his books very satisfying on an emotional level.

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The Introverted Reader

Reviewed by Introverted Jen on Sep 23 2014

Now that I'm firmly in my 30s, I'm brave enough to read the source. It was so much fun! It was (obviously) scary and suspenseful enough to satisfy most children but it had an element of silliness and impossibility that captures the imagination.

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Above average
Reviewed by Booklover on Aug 13 2015

This children’s book by Roald Dahl is not quite as funny as some of his others, but still contains many of his zany ideas and funny words...This is a very satisfying book. It is consistent and fresh all the way through, Dahl does not drop the story nor wrap up the ending in a strange way.

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Reviewed by Virginia on Apr 03 2014

Are you scared of witches? Well you should because the witches are everywhere. They dress up as ordinary ladies but they are evil and diabolical little sneaks. The witches hate children.

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Kids Book Review

Reviewed by Tania McCartney on Oct 30 2010

Mesmerising, creepy, mentally evocative and pure entertainment, it was a joy to reread The Witches after many long decades - and reading it has inspired me once again to delve into my kids' Roald Dahl collection.

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