Guest Post: Emma Steinkellner, Author of The Okay Witch, Shares Some of Her Favorite Kidlit Witches

Witches mean many different things to many different people. Sometimes they represent the terrifying threat of limitless power, sometimes they show us the fun of being able to make your own wishes come true, and hey, sometimes we get both of those flavors and more from a witch story. Why not? I think there’s room for lots of different witch stories. Scary stories about witches often say a lot about us: what do we fear and why does that matter? And fun stories starring witches also show us what it might be like if we could have what we want with the wave of a wand. I wanted to capture all the fear and fun that comes with being a teen spell-caster in my graphic novel The Okay Witch, and the books on this list nail that magical combination, too! Happy reading!

The Witch Boy, by Molly Knox Ostertag
This one-of-a-kind book creates a brand new mythology that gives the reader everything you could want from a witch book—interesting spells, the strain of a character with something to live up to and their own un-ignorable passions, friendship and family and a lot of food for thought. We follow Aster, who was raised in a tradition where girls are taught witchcraft and boys are taught shapeshifting. Aster wants to practice witchcraft and is compelled to when he needs to help his community. It’s a book that can strike up some interesting questions of gender and identity for kids: why are some things considered right and essential for some types of people and how do we free ourselves from those assumptions? Plus, it is full of drop-dead gorgeous artwork.

Baba Yaga’s Assistant, by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Emily Carroll
A really charming, sweet and spicy (like gingerbread children!) story about a teenage girl named Masha who feels abandoned and misplaced and goes to work for the reigning witch of Russian folklore, Baba Yaga. It’s quirky and heartfelt and even pretty spooky at times. And the design of the whole book is delightful. I especially love the way the art style transforms as Masha recalls the Baba Yaga folklore she knows.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches, by S.M. Vidaurri, Kyla Vanderklugt, Matthew Dow Smith, and Jeff Stokely
This collection, one in an anthology series inspired by the TV series Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, has four graphic adaptations of witch folklore from around the world. The artwork on all four of the tales is stunning, but each one is totally unique. Also unique are the depictions of witches. Some are clever and tricky but honor their own rules, some are curious and generous, some noble, some violent. If you’re a kid who loves comparing and contrasting stories (I definitely always have been), this is the book for you.

The Complete Sabrina The Teenage Witch, (Volumes 1962-1971)
Here she is, folks. Sabrina has always been a favorite of mine. I used to devour Archie Comics and it was always a treat when a Sabrina story would show up in a Betty & Veronica Double Digest. All the Sabrina comics have now been put together in a couple volumes. I recommend the first one with comics from the 1960’s because it is fun to see some of the origins of the “teen witch” genre, as long as you keep in mind that they are…ahem, from the 1960’s, so the hairstyles are a little more bubble-shaped than we’re used to and some of the jokes are outdated. For older teens or readers who can process some gore and darker material, I also recommend the recent Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic series. It’s set in the 1960’s, has a staggeringly gorgeous limited color palette, and I enjoyed it a lot.

I should also mention some new, witchy graphic novels coming out this fall! Get excited for Little Witches: Magic in Concord, by Leigh Dragoon, The Black Mage, written by Daniel Barnes and illustrated by DJ Kirkland, and The Midwinter Witch, by Molly Knox Ostertag.

The Okay Witch is on B&N bookshelves now!

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