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Heckedy Peg

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  3,899 ratings  ·  303 reviews
In this story, seven sweet children are transformed by an evil witch into specific types of food. “The inherent drama of the story, combined with the haunting images the art provides, gives the picture book a timeless quality.”--Booklist
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 15th 1992 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published October 21st 1987)
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Ty The seven children were tricked into disobeying their mother and they were turned into food by a witch. Before the witch eats them, the mother has to…moreThe seven children were tricked into disobeying their mother and they were turned into food by a witch. Before the witch eats them, the mother has to find them and trick the witch into giving them back. (less)

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Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,899 ratings  ·  303 reviews

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J.K. Grice
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
HECKEDY PEG is one of the most beautifully illustrated story books that I have ever seen. Aubrey Wood has crafted a deliciously imaginative fairy tale for children, straight out of the Brothers Grimm tradition. Just an unbelievable book!
Nov 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Audrey and Don Wood's works!
Revised Review:

“Heckedy Peg” is another early book of Audrey Wood and Don Wood and is the winner of the Irma Simonton Black Award. With Audrey Wood’s masterful storytelling and Don Wood’s exotic illustrations, “Heckedy Peg” is sure to be an instant classic.

Audrey Wood’s masterful storytelling is both exciting and intense as she narrates the story of a mother who risks her life to find her seven children before Heckedy Peg eats them up. The scene that really stood out the most in this book was
Lisa Vegan
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy wonderful illustrations & who don’t frighten easily
The illustrations here are truly magnificent. The paintings would not be out of place in an art museum. They’re amazing.

The story is both scary and funny. I’d have been terrified as a young child, but as an adult I really enjoyed the story.

It’s about a clever and loving mother and her seven children. (Given the children’s names, I did get a chuckle from wondering what she’d have done had she had eight children. ha ha) I guess this is a reassurance story since the mother outwits the witch but it’
Fantastic! Really beautiful artwork, gripping story with a clever twist and a warm ending.
Quite gorgeous illustrations and a clever story. I'm not sure I felt especially drawn to it, although I do appreciate all its merits. Best of all, I love that Mom is the HEROINE for a change. A spunky, brave and clever one at that. Woo hoo!
Henry Martin
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
How come I never came over this author / illustrator duo before?

This is exactly what I asked myself while reading this little gem. The story itself is entertaining, even though elements of it remind me of multiple old European fairy tales. However, it does offer a fresh look at the age-old cautionary tale of parents telling their children to not open the door for strangers no matter what. The children, as we know, can never abide by that simple rule :)

The illustrations in this book are simply
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Fairy-Tale Lovers / Fans of the Woods
When their mother, setting out to the market in town, must leave them home alone, seven rambunctious siblings - named for the seven days of the week - keep to her instructions at first, refusing to open the door for strangers, or to touch the fire. But a crafty witch named Heckedy Peg (who'd lost her leg) soon comes along, tempting them with a bag of gold, and - when they finally do admit her to the cottage - transforming them into various food items! It falls to their determined and resourceful ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This is a great pick for story time! Not only are the illustrations beautiful, but children can try to guess how the mother will figure out which food is which child. I consider this to be one of Audrey and Douglas Wood's best. Highly recommended!
Crystal Marcos
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really loved the illustrations in this book. When I checked it out I didn't realize it was by the married author/illustrator team who collaborated on an excellent read King Bidgood's in the Bathtub. I liked the old time feel of the story. The witch reminded me of snow white and the seven dwarfs. A mother leaves her children alone to go into town. Upon coming home, she discovers they are missing. A little blackbird tells her what happened and she is off to rescue her children from the evil ...more
Sep 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Susan by: Elaine
Paralleling the idea of "The Wolf and the Seven Kids", this folktale details how a mother saves her children (named after the days of the week) from a witch after they have been tricked by her. Using quick wit and recognition of the food group matching the mother rescues her children. A fun tale to use for folktales, parellel stories and matching and prediction as well as introducing the days of the week and possibly pairing with the rhyme of the days of the week.
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
Gorgeous illustrations really complement the story. I'll admit it's been a LONG time since I read this book, and the story seems a bit silly in my head since it's fantasy, but it's still a really fun story with some beautifully-done illustrations.
Michelle Clark
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my most favorite children's books of all time!! It has been so special to me and my daughters, that I bought another copy of the book for my grandchildren! It is a unique story, teaches many concepts, and demonstrates the strength of a mother's love!!
Cynthia Egbert
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
The story is a good moral tale but the lavish illustrations really make this one pop! Nothing finer than a quick-witted mama outwitting a witch!
Jul 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Some other reviewers have commented that this book "sounds traditional" or "reads like folklore" or similar. That's actually because it IS a traditional bit of folklore - it's taken from a traditional children's game known variously as "Old Witch, Old Witch" or "The Witch in the Well" or I'm sure a dozen other things! This commenter suggests that the second part of the game he played - which is word-for-word in the book - is called "Pies" and was actually a different game at some point.

Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Creepy and ethereal illustrations and a scary narrative highlight this story by the writing team of Audrey Wood and Don Wood. The story is spooky and entertaining and perfect to read at Halloween, even if it isn't about the holiday.

Our girls really enjoyed the story and talked about it for days after we read it. I love the amazing illustrations and just had to reread the story and really look at the details in the pictures. I also love that the Mom is the hero of the story and succeeds because
Christy Cameron
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
When I was little, this was one of my favorite books. The story is about a mother with seven children who must go to the the market to get food. She asks each of her children what they would like and promises to bring an item back for each child. While she's away, an evil witch (Heckedy Peg) stops by and tricks the children into letting her in. She turns the children into food and brings them to her home. When the mother arrives home, and her children are missing, she knows just where to find ...more
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
Seven children are left home alone while their mother goes to the market to buy them special items for helping with chores. The mother tells them to the lock the door, not to let in strangers, and to stay away from fire. An old witch, Heckedy Peg tricks the children into letting her inside and she turns them into food. Will mother be able to save her seven children from this wicked old witch?

An incredible story. It does read like a folktale variant and the children turning into food dynamic is
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Another great story by Audrey and Don Wood. Infact it is their favorite book that they have done together. The illustrations in this book are beautiful! I love the way that Don captures the expressions of the children in the story. I am not sure that I would share this story with the 3 and 4 year olds in my classroom as the story may be "too scary". I am planning to share it with my Kindergarteners. I believe that the children will enjoy the suspense of what happens when the seven children allow ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites. My children move closer and stare, spellbound at the pictures. Will the mother be able to save her children from being eaten by a witch? I don't know what it is about the threat of being eaten, but there is something wonderfully terrifying about this story. The clever victory is immensely satisfying. If the story were not entirely compelling, I could stare at the pictures for a very long time, but it is too tempting to turn the page!
Heckedy Peg is a story about seven children who were left at home while their mother went to town. While they were home they were told to not let a stranger in the house and to not touch fire. While their mother was gone the children gave into temptation and disobeyed their mother and had to deal with the consequences. This is a dark but great story showing the love a mother has for her children.
My wife and father-in-law are obsessed with this book, so I figured I'd be remiss not to include it among my books. They both do a really great job with the voices. I just can't get over the whole creepy cutting-your-feet off and turning kids into food thing.
Oops, was that a spoiler?
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorite Wood books. Creepy, thrilling, and awesome.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book gets 4 stars because of the illustrations. The story is a little odd but I liked it.
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-alouds
I borrowed this from the library, and have read it about 20 times in past couple of weeks (per request). Beautifully illustrated, and a clever story that echoes the gospel.
A slightly modern ('80s) original fairy tale that is haunting yet charming, a little scary yet delicious (look at all the food!), and stunning in every way; much aided by the breathtaking artwork. It took me back to my childhood of reading illustrated fairy tale books.

'Heckedy Peg' is about how nothing is more powerful than a mother's love and affection for, and knowledge of, her children. It is about why children should listen to their mother's reasonable dos and don'ts of life - for the witch,
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: halloween
Seven children are left at home by their mother with strict instructions to keep the door locked and stay away from the fire as she goes to the market. A wicked witch comes to the window and offers them a sack of gold if they will let her in and light her pipe from the fire. They give in to temptation and she turns them into various types of food, packs them up and takes them home to have dinner. Mother comes home and with the help of a bird locates the old witch's hovel. The witch tells mom ...more
Halston Waishes
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Heckedy Peg is about a mother that leaves her seven children home while she goes to the market. She ask each of her children what they would like from the market and then she tells them to not let strangers in or play with fire. While the mother is away a witch comes to the house and tempts the children to let her in. The children give in and let the witch in and then she kidnaps them and turns them into food. The mother returns to find her children missing and a blackbird lead her to the ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-book
What a surprise when I learned that this tale was actually from the 70's, as I thought it was a pure classic. This is a really remarkable tale story, with all the classic elements, extremely well written and stunningly illustrated. But that's also why it is not 5 stars but 4 stars. The classic element of the disable and scary witch and the trick of cutting your legs to gain approval. Somehow I wish that Audrey Wood could have created such a strong tale without falling into this ancient parallel ...more
I confess that I don't get on well with detailed illustrations of children's faces--they're uncanny but caricatured in a way I find unsettling, which isn't the intent here. The paintings of the witch and her magics and abode are where the art truly succeeds--they're detailed, evocative, and intentionally unsettling. But there's no contrast between the bright, good family and the evil witch. More's the pity, as I think the plot could work for me: it has a fairytale vibe with distinctive imagery, ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I remember this one fondly from my childhood, though I'd forgotten just how dark it was for a kid's book. It was lovely re-reading it as an adult. Sunday is still my favorite child. I'd remembered the kids being named after the days of the week and a witch but had forgotten about the food subplot. Does egg pudding really pair with rib roast, though, or is Sunday just have an interesting food preference?

The illustrations are as detailed and gorgeous (or grotesque, at times) as I remember and it
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Audrey Wood studied art and drama at the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. She has owned an operated a book and import store, taught chldren's drama and art, and traveled throughout Mexico and Guatemala studying Indian folk art. She now lives in Hawaii with her talented family (husband Don and son Bruce, who have both collaborated with Audrey by illustrating some of her books).