Pip and the Wood Witch Curse: Book One of the Spindlewood Tales
Written and Illustrated by Chris Mould
Book One of the “Spindlewood Tales,” is the exciting and gripping adventure of an abused orphan, Pip. About to be sold, literally, to a ship’s captain, Pip seizes the opportunity to escape, only to land in a worse situation. is delivered into the legendary village of Hangman’s Hollow, where the townspeople and the creatures of the forest fight over possession of the children. Children are forced to hide lest they be imprisoned by the forest dwellers. When Pip trudges through a heavy snow, his tracks set in motion a whole series of events: chases through the city streets and through the woods, flying accusations, and battles. He wanders past the local tavern, where the tavern keeper snatches him, keeps him safe, and introduces him to his own son. Pip and the son, Toad, set out to rescue a girl rumored to be hiding.
For timid third-graders this may be best as a read-aloud since the subject matter is a bit scary. But it should be fine for most independent third-grade readers. While Pip and Toad venture forth with little trepidation, they do encounter girl who is paralyzed by terror. However, readers can learn lessons. Things can always be worse, and they can always work at improving their own situations. Also, it seems that even the most innocuous objects can be malevolent. The trees harbor witches. A wooden doll is in fact a malicious soldier from the civil war. Even the birds–though not all of them–report back to the evil creatures.
The author-illustrator presents some beautiful and vivid drawings of the settings and many of the characters. They add a lot to the feel of being there.