I don’t know if you have been following it on Twitter (some of you might not have Twitter, I would urge you to join as it is far more booky than you might imagine) however #bookadayuk has been a daily joy for me. All through the month of June the folks at Borough Press, a new imprint of Harper Collins, have been asking us to tweet pictures of books that match a certain theme. There have been books we have never finished, the best book we have ever found second hand, the books we think everyone else should have read but haven’t, etc, etc. Today they have asked a question that has had me well and truly stumped… Which character in a book would you want to be?
Worryingly after a day of so or thinking about it I couldn’t come up with a single one. You see whilst there may have been many, many, many books which I wish I had been in (as an additional character or a bystander) there are absolutely no characters that I would want to swap places with because if they were my favourites I would rather hang out with them than trade places.
For example in the case of two of my very favourite characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, I wouldn’t want to be either of them but I would give anything and everything to be caught up in an adventure with them physically as I have mentally again and again over the years. The idea of being Holmes (an opium addict who plays my least favourite instrument ever) doesn’t do it to me at all, and neither would being his sidekick, I’ve never wanted to be a doctor and certainly not one in the Victorian period. However, hop into a handsome cab and head through the streets of Victorian London with a game afoot and I would be there with them both in a moment.
It has always been so for me, this isn’t my adult brain trying to be ‘realistic’. As a child I always wanted to be the best friend of Mildred Hubble aka The Worst Witch and share a dorm with her and Tabby. I wanted the Famous Five to be the Stupendous Six. I wanted to live in Whitby and be part of uncovering a gang of witches up to no good. I wanted to befriend Matilda in the library or be Miss Honey’s nephew who would visit. I never wanted to be a character, just join in as I was doing vicariously turning the pages and getting lost in the world.
Today though I am feeling like it is just me as I have seen people over and over mentioning characters they would like to be, so I thought I would share this thought with all of you and see if it is just me that is the freak or if any of you would rather be an addition character in a book rather than trading places with one (if you would like to swap places with a character the don’t be shy and share with us who it is) and being a part of the world the book creates?
You could be inclined to think that this post is a belated April Fools but its not, and I am sure some literary aficionados might judge this post and that’s fine too. True, I don’t normally review childrens books, I leave that to the likes of my kind volunteers The Bookboy and The Girl Who Reads Too Much. Yet while I have been having ups and downs on the health front of late and been somewhat of an invalid I have wanted certain comforts and that includes childhood ones. In fact whilst reading ‘The Worst Witch To The Rescue’ by Jill Murphy I was eating vanilla custard slices so I really was going back to my ten year old self. ‘The Worst Witch’ series was one of my absolute favourite series as a child and so when I saw that the latest one, as Jill Murphy has brought the wonderful Mildred Hubble back a few times since the first book in the 1970’s and second and third in the 1980’s, in the library I simply had to pick it up. It proved to be the perfect comfort read and as the series was such a huge part of me becoming a reader I wanted to report back on it as it had me spellbound yet again.
Mildred Hubble, to whom the title ‘worst witch’ refers to, is as the title suggests a fairly dreadful witch. Though when you say dreadful we aren’t referring to evil, she is just a bit hopeless. In fact her least favourite teacher Miss Hardbroom often refers to her as a ‘trouble magnet’. In this, the sixth and latest, instalment of the series ‘The Worst Witch To The Rescue’ the first day of a new term at Miss Cackles Academy for Witches all seems to be going unusually well for Mildred Hubble. Firstly she has managed to come up with a surprise summer project which is sure to impress Miss Hardbroom, who she knows is her sternest critic, she shows an incredible natural aptitude at a new subject and even her worst enemy Ethel Hallow seems to be being nice. Of course though this is the world of Mildred Hubble and nothing can stay that good for long can it?
I can’t really say any more than that on the book as I wouldn’t want to ruin how it goes wrong for Mildred in case you decide to throw caution to the wind and get this yourself, which of course you should do. It was wonderful to be reunited with Mildred along with her friends Maud and Enid, plus her faithful feline Tabby and indeed the scary Miss Hardbroom and evil Ethel. It had me feeling like I did when I was much younger and wishing I too was a student at Miss Cackles Academy (the fact I wouldn’t have been able to be a witch didn’t concern me and hey its fiction anything is possible) and could join in with these gentle and enjoyable adventures. I also love the pictures, they evoke a love for the series and reading that I had as a kid.
To say that I enjoyed this book would be a complete understatement. It’s very unusual that a book series you loved in your childhood is still going, there was a gap of a decade between book three and four and again between book four and five when Jill Murphy was looking after her relatives with dementia. I am hoping that there are plans for some more outings of Mildred Hubble as to spend an hour and a half (a real little one read reading treat) in her company is just the thing. 8/10
I took this book out from the local library.
If I had been on the BBC’s ‘My Life in Books’ (or indeed the wonderful series that Simon of Stuck in a Book is doing which I loved reading) then I think it would be highly likely that I would choose The Worst Witch as my childhood book, even over Roald Dahl surprisingly. Of course this post isn’t just about how much I loved the latest Worst Witch tale; it’s about the feelings that turning to your favourite children’s books can evoke. Its also been nice reading some of this book to my littlest cousins. Have any of you read The Worst Witch series? Do you have a series that does this to you too and if so which one is it, is it still going, do you turn to it often?