Heppermann, Christine and Koertge, Ron. Backyard Witch #1: Sadie's Story
July 21st 2015 by Greenwillow Books
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Sadie is understandably upset when Jess and Maya, her two best friends, go off for a week at the lake with Jess's grandparents, leaving Sadie at home with her yoga instructor mother and aspiring author father. When she sees a suspicious cloud of smoke over her playhouse in the back yard, she investigates and discovers a witch, Ms. M. stirring up some soup! Ms. M. has also lost her two best friends. Ethel had a spell go awry and was turned into a bird, and when Onyx the cat attacked the bird, Ms. M. got angry and kicked him out. Sadie offers to help find the friends, and the two have lots of wonderful adventures in the park, mainly watching birds. They also manage to use magic to avoid having the playhouse sold in a garage sale, and Sadie is occupied until her friends come back from the lake.
Strengths: Magical realism appeals to readers of all ages. The rereleased Ruth Chew books have been a HUGE success with my readers, and this is sort of an updated version of those. Sadie has parents who are supportive and alive, if a little clueless, and gets to have adventures with a witch.
Weaknesses: Very little magic is involved for a book with a witch. Much more birdwatching, which is less appealing to read about. The pictures were okay, but not my favorite.
What I really think: This would be a good choice for an elementary library where students like books about magic, but this seemed too young for my middle school.