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Diary of an Accidental Witch: Ghostly Getaway

Authored by Perdita and Honor Cargill
Illustrated by Katie Saunders
Published by Little Tiger Press

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Diary of an Accidental Witch: Ghostly Getaway is the third published diary written by Bea Black, witch in training ‘with a bit of help from [authors] Perdita and Honor Cargill’. Bea is settling into life at the School of Extraordinary Arts, though her class is having a few problems learning to work together. She is struggling to keep the fact she is at a school for witches a secret from her non-magical father; she is also increasingly worried that her father will decide to leave Little Spellshire once his book about the unusual local weather system is finished. In order to help the class bond, the teachers decide to take them all to ghostly Cadabra Castle for their first school trip, but Bea worries that while she is away he may finish his book. However, a visit to this mysterious castle, and the chance to work together with friends and enemies alike, proves to be just what she needed after all.

It is possible to enjoy the Ghostly Getaway without reading the first two instalments of Bea’s diary, although there are references made to the earlier stories. Written in the first person, there are footnotes, illustrations and crossed out words throughout as Bea records events in her notebook; dates and times separate the text rather than chapters, reminding us this is a diary. The text is accessible and the pages do not feel crowded even with these additional elements. In terms of content, some readers will recognise the nod to Adrian Mole’s secret diary as well as significant similarities with other magical stories, such as the Worst Witch and Harry Potter. There are also references that seem aimed at a more knowing adult audience, such as pupils being told “Buckle up, witches” on the coach and the custodian of the castle, Dolly Pumpkin, being greeted with “Hellooo Dolly” (or am I the only one who automatically sings this musical reference?).

There are key themes, such as dealing with worries and working together, that feature throughout and are central to the plot. There are also aspects mentioned in passing that might prompt discussion, such as the father of a close friend being away a lot as he is in the army.

This is a book for 7–9-year-olds to read independently or in pairs rather than as a class novel, as the text features may make it difficult to share aloud.