I’ve been such a big fan of Claire Barker’s writing since I first read her delightful debut ‘Knitbone Pepper,’ three years ago. This series is so warm, wonderful and gloriously fun, Claire has a real talent for creating characters that you can’t help falling in love with. So as you can imagine, I was thrilled to discover she had new adventure on the way, which has proved to be equally as marvellous. ‘Picklewitch and Jack,’ the first book in a brand new series illustrated by Teemu Jahani, is a bundle of mischief and mayhem. Meet Jack a boy who has always stood out for the wrong reasons at his old school, so he is relieved to be starting at St Immaculate’s School for the Gifted, a place he feels he will finally find friends just like him. But little does he know that Picklewitch, a tiny witch with some very big plans, is about to turn his life upside down in the most unexpected of ways. For the first time in Jack’s life he finds himself constantly in trouble as he keeps getting the blame for all Pickelwitch’s disastrous magic. Jack really doesn’t need friends like Picklewitch or does he? He soon learns that friendship can be found in even the most unlikeliest of places and that maybe sometimes it helps to have a witch as your best friend.
From the moment I opened this book I was completely enchanted as Claire transports us into Picklewitch’s strange and fascinating world. Wonderfully atmospheric, her rich, lyrical writing allows the reader to see vividly before their eyes the sturdy walnut tree she calls home and hear the wind battering pouncing on the weathervane. You can sense something stirring as Picklewitch first cast her eyes on Jack and makes the decision that despite him being opposite in every way to her with his shiny shoes and smooth hair, he WILL be her new best friend. As the story unfolds there are so many comic and cringeworthy moments as we watch Picklewitch disrupt Jack’s life beyond recognition. She is totally a law to herself and there is only one way and yes you guessed it, it’s her way.
Teemu’s glorious illustrations capture brilliantly the chaos unfolding, you can feel the energy and naughtiness crackle on the pages. I love how the characters personalities are expressed so clearly through his drawings, they bring Claire’s wonderful characters to life perfectly. Everything about this book is a joy from start to finish! It’s warm, funny and highlights the importance of loyalty in friendship and why above all else we should be true to yourself. Claire has managed to conjure up a real slice of magic that I know readers are bound to love. Heart-warming and hilarious in equal measures, for me this book is a real triumph in storytelling.
Thank you to the lovely Claire for sending me an early copy of this glorious book. ‘Picklewitch and Jack,’ is released on the 6th September and is available to buy online or from any good bookshop.