________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 38 . . . . June 3, 2011


Witches’ Brew. (A Sam & Friends Mystery, Book Four).

Mary Labatt. Illustrated by Jo Rioux.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2011.
96 pp., pbk. & hc., $7.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-473-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-472-2 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Dogs -Comic books, strip, ect..

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Lisa O’Hara.

*** /4


In the fourth graphic novel of the “Sam & Friends Mystery” series, Sam and Jennie get new neighbours when three strange sisters move into the house across the street. Weird things start happening in the neighbourhood, including wacky weather, strange visitors showing up with mysterious packages and even stranger pets that keep disappearing. Sam’s nose for mystery is twitching, and Sam and the girls hypothesize that the sisters are witches:

Beth: Let’s think. Who uses toads?
Jennie: Maybe they eat them.
Sam: Never! They taste terrible. I bit one once. Worse than Liver Delight!
Jennie (to Beth): Sam says toads taste terrible.
Beth: Maybe they’re using them in science experiments.
Sam: Hmm, mad scientists... I bet those toads used to be people!
Jennie: Those women didn’t look like mad scientists, Sam.
Sam: Then it must be a magic spell … Maybe the toads are waiting for a princess to kiss them
Jennie: Sam thinks it might be magic. Like princesses and witches and stuff.
Beth: Witches use toads in their potions.
Jennie : Witches?
Beth: No one else would need toads. Only witches.
Sam: Witches would be good. I wonder who they came to put a spell on?
Jennie: They didn’t come to put a spell on anybody, Sam! They’re not witches. Don’t get us into trouble!

However, as they get to know the neighbours more, things seem stranger and stranger and even Jennie becomes convinced that the sisters are witches. A mysterious stranger shows up who puts a hex on Sam, and they decide that they have to find the spell book in order to remove the hex. Ainternal artfter they sneak into the witches’ house, matters come to a head, and they find the real explanation for the strange goings on across the street.

      This graphic novel is fun to read, and the story moves along quickly. The black and white illustrations are entertaining, and the expressions on both the girls’ faces and Sam’s face are very descriptive and often comical. Witches’ Brew is a great way to introduce early readers to chapter books, and more advanced readers will enjoy it too.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa O’Hara is a mother of three and a librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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