Well, I can’t say as this is the best written Ruth Chew book I’ve read. It’s actually pretty marginal. Charlotte and Walt get a magic ring out of one of those supermarket vending machines designed to lure children into squandering their quarters. It has the promising name of Fun Chicken. What Walt and Charlotte don’t know is that a witch has been waiting for this ring (acting on a rumor that it would be in the Fun Chicken – a fact which should be hilarious but in the book is quite blah). The witch takes the form of a cat and follows them home.
So why don’t I love this? First of all, it’s never quite clear what the ring’s magic is. It clearly has something to do with giving you what you want, but it’s all sort of vague. I detest vague magic. It seems lazy on the part of the writer. Second of all, these kids are totally being followed around and befriended by a weird lady and they aren’t bothered by it. I know there’s a need for suspended disbelief when dealing with magic,witches, and books written a long time ago, but this woman shows up in one of their BEDROOMS and no one tells mom. By our current standards of safety, this is CREEEE-PY. There’s also this totally trippy section where the children and witches are all super small and there are giant ants. And the end? The witch decides she’d rather be a housecat than a person. That has to be a bad message right?
Ruth Chew fans will rate anything by her highly, and kids who love her books will read anything by her, but this is not the place to start them. Use only in case of desperation.
Advanced readers in first or second grade will find this content to be appropriate. It’s probably on grade level for third grade. Some fourth or fifth graders may enjoy it, but I feel sixth and up would find it dull and babyish.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – None. Although there is this super weird line where the witch says “All the while I’ve been longing for you to touch me. And I never knew it!” Ew!
Profanity – “gyp” – What’s wrong with gyp you may ask? Well, it’s meaning – to cheat or swindle – seems to have been derived from the word gypsy, which refers to the Romani people who immigrated throughout Europe. Do you really want to be saying that gypsies are cheaters? Most kids will be so unfamiliar with the term it will hold no meaning, but you may want to know it’s in here.
Death, Violence and Gore – Walt fights with some boys who are trying to steal their bicycles and also fights with the head witch.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None
Frightening or Intense Things – Unless you are reading this aloud to a very small child, or you have a child who is very afraid of home intruders, this should be fine.