Precious and the Boo Hag

Precious and the Boo Hag

by Patricia C. McKissack, Onawumi Jean Moss, Kyrsten Brooker

When Precious is left home alone with a stomachache, she's got nothing but a warning from Mama — "Don't let nothing or nobody into this house" — to keep her company. You see, "nothing or nobody" could turn out to be something awful: the Boo Hag! The Boo Hag's got a voice that rumbles like thunder and hair that shoots out like lightning.


When Precious is left home alone with a stomachache, she's got nothing but a warning from Mama — "Don't let nothing or nobody into this house" — to keep her company. You see, "nothing or nobody" could turn out to be something awful: the Boo Hag! The Boo Hag's got a voice that rumbles like thunder and hair that shoots out like lightning. And she can disguise herself to look like anything. So when the Boo Hag comes calling, will Precious be clever enough to outwit even the trickiest trickster?
Here's an oh-so-funny — and not-too-scary — story from Newbery Honor-winning author Patricia C. McKissack and Onawumi Jean Moss that's paired with spirited, folksy illustrations by Kyrsten Brooker.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Newbery Honor author McKissack (The Dark-Thirty) teams up with storyteller Moss to relay-with flair and humor-the tale of a girl with a stomachache who stays at home while her mother and brother go off to the fields to plant corn. Mama leaves Precious with a warning ("Don't let nothing and nobody in this house") and Brother slyly adds that if Precious does let someone in the house, it may well turn out to be Pruella the Boo Hag ("She's tricky and she's scary, and she tries to make you disobey yo' mama"). Though the girl tries to reassure herself that there's no such thing as the Boo Hag, suddenly the honeysuckle wilts on the vine and "the sunny day took on a dark and dreary disposition." The creature, with "eyes of burning cinder and hair that shot out like lightning," appears "riding on the back of a storm," demanding that Precious let her inside with a voice "that rumbled like rolling thunder." Precious bravely sings a chant announcing her refusal to let the hag in and the creature disappears-only to return three more times in various guises, including that of a shiny penny. Brooker (Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street) conveys the rowdy, larger-than-life goings-on in playfully exaggerated, stylized collage art which features a range of textures. The story's lively language, pleasing cadence and effective repetition of Precious's chant make this a buoyant read-aloud. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Onawumi Jean Moss is known for her skill as a storyteller, Patricia McKissack for her deep appreciation of African-American culture. Together they have created a story that honors both. Precious is home with a stomach ache, warned by her mama "don't let nothing and nobody in this house" because, as her big brother insists, it might be Pruella the Boo Hag. Pruella does try to get in with all sorts of guises, but Precious obeys her mama, overcoming her fears and surprising her brother with a combination of song and a little presence of mind. The story is perfect for a robust and enthusiastic read-aloud. The teasing older brother and the discovery of both fun and power in being a young girl alone are universal themes offered in an African-American context. Inside each frame of weathered, paint-chipped wood is a full-page illustration fashioned from fabric, paint, photograph and whimsy. The illustrations are beautifully original and like the book, just a whole lot of fun. 2005, Atheneum, Ages 4 to 8.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-When Precious's bellyache keeps her from helping in the fields, she is left at home alone, with Mama's strict instructions to let no one inside the house for any reason, no matter what. This admonition is reinforced by Brother's warning that if she is not careful, Pruella the Boo Hag might sneak in. Frightening Boo Hags tell lies and are rude, and try to get children to disobey their mamas. Worst of all, they change shapes, so they are hard to recognize. Temptation comes in many forms and Precious is surely baited. But she is a plucky girl who confronts her fears and, in the end, clings to what she knows is right. The spirited language and vivid images will draw out the performer in every reader. The authors have produced an enchanting tale that is a pinch scary but a peck of fun. Brooker's oil-and-collage illustrations enhance the excitement while providing a glimpse of a modest home with peeling paint, braided rugs, and homemade jam. These images evoke real warmth and comfort, fortifying Precious-and readers-to meet her challenges. Find a comfy chair, gather an audience, and enjoy this wonderful book.-Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A quick-witted child confronts a scary character (here somewhat toned down) from Gullah folklore in this largely original tale. Left alone to nurse a stomachache while the rest of her family works the fields, young Precious isn't sure whether to take seriously her brother's warning about letting the evil, shapeshifting Boo Hag into the house-until the creature herself shows up, flashing "eyes of burning cinder and hair that shot out like lightning." Brooker underscores the story's rustic flavor by surrounding most of her terrific paint and collage scenes with a peeling board frame and gives pigtailed Precious a winningly scared but resolute look. After repeatedly seeing through a series of flawed disguises (the Boo Hag being powerful, but none too bright), Precious drifts off to sleep in triumph, supposing-wrongly, as a nape-prickling final scene reveals-that the Hag has given up. Fine fare for Halloween, or general under-the-covers reading. (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.40(d)
AD710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia C. McKissack is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children, including Goin' Someplace Special, a Coretta Scott King Award
winner; The Honest-to-Goodness Truth; Let My People Go, written with her
husband, Fredrick, and recipient of the NAACP Image Award; The Dark-Thirty, a Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winner; and Mirandy and Brother Wind, recipient of the Caldecott Medal and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Onawumi Jean Moss is a storyteller and educator whose performances encourage pride of heritage and appreciation of cultural differences. She is associate dean of students at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Kyrsten Brooker's wonderful books for children include Runaway Dreidel! by Lesléa Newman, They Saw the Future by Kathleen Krull, and Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter. She lives in Alberta, Canada.

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