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The Wednesday Witch

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,016 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Mary Jane's mother tells her not to let any strangers in the house while she's away. But there's a short, fat woman in a long black dress and a pointed hat banging on the door. Illustrated.
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by Hyperion Books (first published 1969)
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Diana Patch-Brace Not sure, but the cover looks right to me. What I remember about the book is that she named the Vacuum Cleaner, "James" and when returning home she…moreNot sure, but the cover looks right to me. What I remember about the book is that she named the Vacuum Cleaner, "James" and when returning home she would say, "Home James". (less)

Community Reviews

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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,016 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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SheriC (PM)
I had only vague but happy memories of reading this book as a little girl, remembering the slightly incompetent witch who rode a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom and her talking black cat who helped a little girl with her homework. Rereading this as an adult was a pleasure, though the story is certainly dated now. But the humor and delightfully sensible nonsense is still there. Most of all, I was thrilled to uncover the origin story of one of our family quirks: Whenever we pile in the car after ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How wonderful that Chew's books have been reissued! I opine they hold up well and are still interesting, even enchanting. The art is wonderful, too. The problems modern parents might have with this is 1. Mom feels pressure to tidy up the home before Dad gets home, and 2. Mary Jane is both old enough to be left alone for an hour or more, and young enough to be interested in dollhouses. *I* think those are minor.

Thank you to the LFL patron who shared this. Now I have to decide whether to read it o
One Wednesday afternoon, Mary Jane's mother has to go to the store. "Don't get into any mischief while I am away," she says. Alas, Mary Jane goes up to look at the pretty things on her mother's dresser and she does, indeed, get into mischief. A bottle of her mother's perfume, Mischief. Soon, a witch with a vacuum arrives on Mary Jane's doorstep, attracted to the smell of mischief! Mary Jane knows not to open the door to strangers, and when she sees the witch fly away on her vacuum, she is at onc ...more
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
All time favorite story growing up! i think it changed the way i viewed a vacuum for evs...
I love all of Ruth Chew's witch stories (mostly out of print now). I used to check this one out of the Casselberry Library a lot when I was a kid. I also checked out a book that had a little girl witch who met a little girl mermaid. The girl witch took care of a baby named BeBe and the mermaid took care of a baby named BayBay. I wish I could find that book again someday.
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
I used to read this book regularly as a child. I enjoyed it so much that as an adult I purchased as many of Ruth Chew's books as I could, despite that most of them are out of print. They are fun to read, magical, but are not dark at all, and are really great for children about 3rd grade and up.
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read all of Ruth Chew's books as a kid. Great fun, filled with fantasy and magic. A cranky witch, a magical flying vacuum cleaner, and some funny adventures.
Kristi Morris
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read this and my other book reviews at!

The first chapter book I ever read was The Wednesday Witch by Ruth Chew. Published nearly twenty years before I was even born, it remains one of my treasured books to this day. In fact, I still have my original battered copy. I pull it out and read it every now and again, reminiscing about my childhood and grandma’s witch as I turn the pages. While that witch gives me the willies, The Wednesday Witch is far from scary. Hilda the witc
Kaitlyn (ktxx22) Walker
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was delightful. It was so fun, funny, and magical! For a book published in 1969 I definitely think this aged well! There was some minor detail that were old fashioned but all in all it translated very well. Easy 5/5 for a children's book. It's an early chapter book. And it was a perfect addition to my Halloween reads!
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
A simple tale about a girl who gets involved with a pesky witch and her talking cat. It lacks details that would make the characters or scenes more realistic, but it's a cute story, good for younger readers. Mostly I bought it because it was a vintage copy and the cover is purple. lol.
Jul 26, 2014 rated it liked it
All of Ruth Chew’s books are enormously special. She is a beloved author who won’t be replaced. I always take with a grain of salt, outdated aspects of society. It is preposterous to dock a book’s rating for not matching the reviewer’s present day. It stands to reason every book, written in a current timeline, was most certainly modern in its decade. To judge societal alignment, would mean rendering today’s novels out of mode in due course. It is reasonable, however, to critique inappropriate ac ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
A bland little story about a bland little girl who meets a witch who rides a vaccuum cleaner. Another copy-cat; Sabrina Spellman made her first appearance in Archie Comics in 1962, 7 years before this book came out Witch Hilda (sound familiar?) isn't very good at magic, except on Wednesdays; and even then nothing goes quite right for her until she learns to be helpful and unselfish. Geh.

Mary Jane (even her name is bland)'s parents are pretty oblivious to what's going on around them, and her best
Lisa Ard
Nov 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Last night my kids and I settled in, while I read this book cover to cover. My daughter drew at her desk. My son curled up next to me on her bed. That coupled with this easy, old-fashioned, quirky story almost made me want to give it 5 stars. Instead I give it a solid 3 stars.

When a young girl spends an afternoon alone at home, her mother advises "don't get into mischief". Well, of course, she does. She's too smart to let in the witch that turns up on her doorstep, but the cat left behind is ano
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this darling book again these school hols in a box in the bottom of the spare room cupboard.

My darling mum had packed it up over 30 years ago, (along with my old Trixie Beldon & Laura Wilder treasures), dragged it from Melbourne to Perth and still had them! Bless you and your occasional hoarding!!

I read this at oh, 8 or 9 and just loved the quirkiness of the story. It's not high literature, but the tender detail of the tiny cat Cinders and what she's fed and other minutae of the dai
Sep 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Before there was Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling was unknown, there was Ruth Chew. She wrote several witch stories, but my favorite by far is the Wednesday Witch. This book captures the imagination and is nothing but fun. I never looked at our Filter Queen vacuum the same way again. I kept sitting on it--wishing it would fly like James, until my mother told me to knock it off. This is a fun rainy day book for kids, but adults would find it amusing as well.
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was a HUGE Ruth Chew fan as a child... her books shaped most of my childhood games and imaginative play...

It would be soooooooooooo great if they were reissued. I can not believe they are out of print - when so many other series continue to be reissued over and over for future generations.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A fun read--either as an independent read or read aloud--for early elementary kids. Some magic, a quirky witch, a brave girl, a flying vacuum, a tiny cat--all make for a humorous adventure. I liked the author's illustrations, too.
Melissa Porter
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book more than any other in the world, so I must give credit where it is due. I checked it out at the AP library and bought my own copy a year or so ago. Takes me back to the days when I pretended to carry around a miniature witch (and cat) around in my pocket.
Mar 17, 2009 rated it liked it
I remember purchasing this from a Scholastic book club in elementary school. I read it over and over -- I particularly liked the innovation of a vacuum-riding witch (so much more practical and easier to manipulate than a broom!). I still have my childhood copy!
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read this book repeatedly as a kid. It was fun to read it again! The author has a fun imagination, and created a character that was interesting, but not at all menacing. It's a cute little book - I'm sad that it's out of print.
Reread October/November 2017
Feb 22, 2016 added it
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely loved this book when I was growing up!
It's been awhile since I've read a book for really young chapter readers, so maybe I'm not giving this book it's fair dues, but... I'm not sure how much I liked it, reading it as an adult. It's not a bad book by any means, but it's kind of weird.

The adults are constantly getting after Mary Jane for things she didn't do (and she doesn't try much to explain what's going on, nor do any of the adults ever find out). Cinders is annoying, and I'm really not sure why Mary Jane wants to keep her. The wi
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a sweet, if not particularly memorable book. A mischievous witch who likes to make extra mischief on Wednesdays knocks on Mary Jane's door. Hilarity ensues as cats and roller skates are shrunk, a dollhouse is trashed, neighbor Marion gets dizzy on a vacuum cleaner ride, a miniature witch goes to school, etc.

There is a scene that freaked me out - the witch pulling out scissors and cutting her cat. Fortunately, the scissors are magic and are only temporarily shrinking the cat, but for a mo
Jennifer Heise
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Classic Ruth Chew, with a young person getting magical stuff (in this case a familiar and a ride-on canister vacuum cleaner) through the not-too-scary intervention of a witch-- this one is not so good, but she's not all that bad in the end either. Of course it's dated (imagine two girls being out of touch with parents for a whole day and managing to slip unescorted to the beach, even with a flying vacuum cleaner!) but a nostalgic re-read nonetheless. (Also, the magic measuring tape etc.)
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was my childhood! It was fun to reread and realize that Hilda the witch did not start out nice, but was more lackadaisical than anything. My favorite parts are the shrunken cat and witch living in the dollhouse and then sneaking off to school with Mary Jane. And of course the flying vacuum cleaner. I always wished I had one of my own.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I bought this at a thrift store for a quarter only to get it home and find out that apparently It's a little hard to come by, copies going between $30 to $100 bucks each. I read it and found it to be very cute. It reminded me of a cross between Paddington and Mary Poppins. It lost a star for the main character getting punished in the witch's stead. So cute!
Sean Harding
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Very funny story about a girl who encounters a witch and the witches cat. A good fun read. I'll look around to see if I can find more of Ruth Chew.
Christine Wacko
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favourite book as a ten year old! Awesome
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm pretty sure I have this book and I remember reading it, but that was so long ago, that I don't remember much other than liking it.
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Ruth Chew is the author of a number of popular books for young readers, including Secondhand Magic and The Wednesday Witch. She was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Washington, D.C. She studied art at the Corcoran School of Art and worked as a fashion artist. She was the mother of five children.