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The Witch Family

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,993 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Old Witch, Little Witch Girl, Weeny Witch, and two real girls in a fantasy that blends the worlds of reality and imagination. A Halloween classic about the power of make-believe.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1960)
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The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlSwitch! The Lost Kingdoms of Karibu by Karen  Prince
Best Children's Fantasy
135th out of 566 books — 953 voters
Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Hiawyn OramLittle House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls WilderCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlRamona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Books for eight-year-old children
70th out of 572 books — 583 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 03, 2014 snowplum rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone with an imagination and a good heart
This book is sheer perfection. It has many of the same qualities as Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner -- young children who live out tremendous adventures in their imagination with characters who are typically treated by the author as though they are also real, though every once in a while perspective shifts and you see the drawings of Old Witch, Little Witch Girl, Lurie (the little mermaid), Weeny Witchy, Malechai (The Spelling Bee -- yes, he is an enchanted bee who spells everything ...more
Feb 18, 2012 NebraskaIcebergs rated it it was amazing
What a delightful find! Although I grew up reading several books by Eleanor Estes, until recently I hadn’t the pleasure of discovering The Witch Family. This book is a fun blend of imagination and fantasy.

One day, Amy and her friend Clarissa banish Old Witch to the top of an “awful, high, lonely, bare, bleak, and barren glass hill.” At first, I wasn’t sure if Old Witch was real or just a character in wild stories that Amy’ mom would tell the girls. When Amy’s mom tells about a particularly bad d
Aug 04, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
I have remembered this book for years in bits and pieces and have never been able to remember what it was called. Finally, through goodreads, I was able to find out the title and I ordered the book from Amazon!

I loved loved loved this book as a child, and skimming through it again, I think it would have been a great one for my daughter when she was younger. I wish I had found it sooner, but I highly recommend it as a read aloud, or read alone for stronger readers. I would guess would be of most
Vincent Desjardins
This charming book is a wonderful ode to childhood imagination. Amy and Clarissa, two seven-year-old best friends, enjoy hearing tales about Old Witch and her wicked antics. They also enjoy sitting down and drawing pictures of the Old Witch's naughty hijinks. To them, the tales they hear about the Witch from Amy's mother, are as real as any events in a history book. The power of their imaginations, along with the magic of their drawings, brings the world of Old Witch to life. Anything they draw, ...more
D.M. Dutcher
Nov 22, 2011 D.M. Dutcher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, children-s
Excellent book. Amy and Clarissa are two ordinary little girls who daydream about an old witch. Amy banished her to a glass mountain so she wouldn't be wicked, only to come out on Halloween when she is good. But being there is lonely, and the two soon populate the glass hill with others to keep her company: a little witch, a baby witch, a spelling bee, and a mermaid. Reality and daydream blur though, as both the two girls visit the glass hill, and the witches visit them on Halloween.

I wrote in m
Jan 13, 2013 Dolly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a very entertaining tale that really captures the essence of a young girl's imagination. The inventiveness of the story evolves as the little girl's whimsy changes, even if it makes little sense. The witches are not very scary, although there's room for the spooky and creepy aspects of Halloween, spiders, hobgoblins, and bad storms.

The story is a fairly quick read and would be appropriate for parents reading with children or older children reading on their own. Since the little girls in
Sep 09, 2007 Tracey rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of imaginative children's literature
The Witch Family was one of my best-loved books from the elementary school library; I checked it out at least 2-3 times a year, I think. I picked up my own copy a few years ago, just to see if it was as good as I remembered.

Amy and Clarissa, two seven year old girls with lively imaginations, banquish (their combo of "banish" & "vanquish") the Old Witch to a glass mountain, forbidding her to come down or perform any bad magic. If she behaves, she can come back down for Halloween. Malachi, a b
Mar 07, 2016 Elise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute premise, with the real girls and the imaginary witch family they created; I like that. It's a pretty easy read, but after a while I wasn't very engaged.
Shawn Thrasher
I admired this book much more than I liked it. An ad hoc squint is going to reveal a sort of treacly, episodic book that quite frankly lacks the narrative strength and subtle wit of a book like Pinky Pye. But on deeper reflection, I think Eleanor Estes is experimenting with plot here; there is a story within a story, one of the thumbprints of postmodern writing; I'm not sure that was happening in very many children's novels in 1960. She's playing around with characters too; the "friendly" mermai ...more
Oct 04, 2013 Terry added it
This book vastly affected my life as a child and gave me a better understanding of who my mother really was.
Jun 16, 2011 Pauline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favs
This is probably my favourite book from childhood. I've reread it many times over the years.
Feb 25, 2013 Danielle rated it liked it
The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes, is a cute little children’s story about two little girls, Amy and Clarissa who draw pictures of a mean, old, and lonely witch who has a house on top of a house who is indeed actually real. Then, one day something extraordinary happens, Amy and Clarissa send a new member of the witch family to Old Witch who brings her great joy and company. You should read this book especially around Halloween because it brings out your inner child and excitement towards the ho ...more
Oct 12, 2014 Christi rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s
A very cute story, but simplistic and just a fun quick read. I'm going to try reading it aloud to the girls (6 and 4) and we'll see how it goes. Like all read-a-louds it will probably need some editing as there are long explanations and I'm certainly not spelling out the spelling bee's conversations. All in all, worth a very quick read but not much more. The children will probably enjoy it though.
Danica Midlil
Jul 19, 2012 Danica Midlil rated it did not like it
I was not impressed by this book, which really surprised me since I grew up addicted to the Moffats' on-going saga. The way this book focuses so much on one of the little girls makes me wonder if this was written for one of the author's children. However, the main character, Amy is a bossy little brat, especially to her supposed best friend, the spineless and forgetful Clarissa. Clarissa is so two-dimensional as to be a place holder really. Her part could have been played by one of Amy's stuffed ...more
Dec 01, 2009 Jan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: ideally read aloud to young children
This book kept cropping up on my Audiobooks page and I had never read it so I thought I'd give it a try. I think I would have enjoyed it as a youngster, especially if read aloud. The book was so repetative and I nearly gave up on it, yet this is exactly the type of book a child would delight in. I didn't care for the narrator/reader who took the old witch's voice to new levels of irritation. The bumblebee's monotonous spelling of everything he said was clever but felt overdone after the 20th tim ...more
Melinda Worfolk
Sep 28, 2014 Melinda Worfolk rated it it was amazing
Oh goodness, I read this too many times to count as a child. I loved it! I don't think I cottoned on at first that the Witch Family were made up by Amy and Clarissa. Such a sweet book.
Aug 06, 2012 Kristen rated it liked it
This is a charming, clever kid's story! I don't know how it is that I never read this as a child, but I'm glad to have read it now, and just in time for "Halloweeny" as it's called in the book.

Amy is a brave little girl who, along with her best friend Clarissa, "banquishes" Mean Old Wicked Witch to a glass hill to keep her out of trouble. But when that becomes too boring, Amy and Clarissa write all kinds of adventures for Old Witch, including adding Little Witch girl Hannah, and Weeny Witch Baby
Oct 07, 2015 Catherine rated it did not like it
I struggle with Estes storytelling style. The characters seem flat and just when I think the story will get good, it gets repetitive and boring. I didn't finish this one.
Joel Manuel
Jan 11, 2015 Joel Manuel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two little girls make up a family of witches with their drawings, and find themselves caught up in the witches' many adventures. A great children's book.
Oct 15, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Had to add this to my list of read books. I was cleaning and found my version which I have saved since elementary school. A must read for young minds!
Aug 07, 2015 Olya rated it it was amazing
Just read it aloud (for the tenth time in the last few years). Loved it just as much as the first time.
Oct 19, 2015 Charissa rated it really liked it
A fun read-aloud for Halloween. This was another memorable, beloved book for my eight-year-old.
Nov 04, 2015 Genevieve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-aloud
Very fun book to read close to Halloween! My little girl and I both loved it!
The Library Lady
Sep 27, 2007 The Library Lady rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-favorites
Amy and Clarissa love to tell and draw stories about "Old Witch". But after they "banquish" her (Amy makes up the word) to the Glass Hill, they realize she is lonely. So they send her Little Witch Girl. And when Little Witch Girl decides to fly down to see her human friends on Halloween, Amy and Clarissa suddenly find themselves in BIG trouble!
This is a wonderful book that encourages kids to use their imaginations, has just enough spooky scariness to delight them, and yet has a warm happy ending
Jan 24, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it
This is a good book for kids 10 and up.
Oct 31, 2014 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Very Creative!
Feb 22, 2009 Barbara rated it it was ok
I'm trying to get through this but it's way too saccharine for my taste. It's definitely a period piece but I'm not sure there's any need to keep it on the branch shelves. Estes is a wonderful old-fashioned writer and I've loved several of her other books but this one just isn't it so far. I'll see if I can get through it.

Finally got through it. Oh well. Nothing great. OK for those who ask for perfectly harmless books for their girls, ages 8 - 10, depending upon reading level.
This was an abandoned read-a-loud. We started reading in the early part of October and it took us 2 months to slog through half of it before finally abandoning it.
My son says he would like to finish reading it on his own someday but it just was not working as a read-a-loud.
Very long and repetitive explanations, not much character and not much plot. Every time I picked it up to read I would hope that something, anything, would happen but it rarely did.
Apr 14, 2012 CLM rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Go, live on the glass hill forever, and never come back!"

Thus did Amy and Clarissa, who loved to draw pictures of witches, banish the wicked Old Witch. Before long there was Little Witch Girl and then Weeny Witch, the baby, on the glass hill as well. Perhaps Old Witch did try to be good, but she never succeeded. And in no time at all, Amy and Clarissa were involved - sometimes dangerously - in her schemes and "hurly-burlies."

From the back cover
Jun 28, 2009 Sps rated it liked it
Protagonists are six or seven but the reading level is much higher, maybe eight to ten. However, it would be a charming, old-fashioned readaloud. Marvelous and loving vision of children's make-believe worlds, specifically the joys of playing wicked witch.

Problems: very blonde. Very gender normative. Reading level much higher than probable interest level based on the rule of thumb about kids wanting to read about kids their age or older.

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What's The Name o...: Kids book - about 3 witches [s] 8 42 Feb 15, 2014 11:31AM  
Goodreads Librari...: paperback with ASIN 2 19 Oct 04, 2013 11:22PM  
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Eleanor Ruth Rosenfeld (Estes)was an American children's author. She was born in West Haven, Connecticut as Eleanor Ruth Rosenfield. Originally a librarian, Estes' writing career began following a case of tuberculosis. Bedridden while recovering, Estes began writing down some of her childhood memories, which would later turn into full-length children's books.

Estes's book Ginger Pye (1951) won the
More about Eleanor Estes...

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“Halloween shadows played upon the walls of the houses. In the sky the Halloween moon raced in and out of the clouds. The Halloween wind was blowing, not a blasting of wind but a right-sized swelling, falling, and gushing of wind. It was a lovely and exciting night, exactly the kind of night Halloween should be.” 3 likes
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