Hectate Tenbury-Smith can turn people into animals, and create new animals out of thin air. She’s an animal witch, and a recent graduate of a school for good witches. Determined to make the world a better place, Heckie befriends a boy named Daniel, and informs him of her mission to do good by turning bad people into animals. Together, Heckie and Daniel perform many a good deed, such as turning the mean owner of a nursing home into a warthog. But then Heckie falls in love with the conniving Lionel Knacksap. Can Daniel foil Lionel’s evil plans and save Heckie from a broken heart? (from Amazon)
I love Eva Ibbotson’s books but the problem I have with them is they tend to blend together. Her children’s books tend to have the same themes of family, responsibility, and personal growth– which is great when you spread out reading her books, but bad when you read three or four close together. Then that all seem TOO similar, and each individual story isn’t as effective as it might have been otherwise.
Not Just a Witch is cute and fluffy but the characters didn’t enthrall me as much as some of her other characters did. I think also the friendship-is-great (if you take care of it) moral was hammered pretty hard, which on top of some not-so-bright characters AND a weird moral issue with turning people into animals/stone instead of, like, handing them over to the police, made this a weird read for me.
My biggest problem was, to be honest, with the idea of turning bad guys into animals. Yay for vigilantism, I guess? But I didn’t like that there wasn’t any repercussions for doing it. Like, the witch is the only person who decides who is bad and who isn’t, and she’s the one who turns them into their punishment animal. But who watches the witch? Who makes sure she isn’t bad? (The adorable sidekick creature who can sniff out evil, I guess. Another Eva Ibbotson staple, btw, and something else that made this book blend into the three others I read in May. They ALL had adorable sidekick creatures in them.)
Luckily one of the children brings up the issues with turning people into animals, though nobody really cared and nobody agreed with her. At least it was put into consideration! It goes to show how good of a writer Eva I. was; she considered all sides, though of course she only supported the one she liked best.
Anyway: not my favorite book, but still pretty adorable.
Read: May 18, 2013