Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard’s Secret is the third book in an award-winning series by Claire Barker and illustrated by Teemu Juhani. Jack is a very sensible boy who happens to be best friends with a witch! Of course, this pairing makes for interesting adventures. When Jack discovers that this year’s school trip is a visit to hunt fossils (or fizzles according to Picklewitch) at the seaside (Jurassic Coast) and potentially win a prize for finding the best one, he can’t wait to set off. Playful Picklewitch needs a bit more persuasion but before long she agrees and the fun really begins.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Picklewitch is such a larger-than-life and enjoyable character to read and really reminded me of the recent Worzel Gummidge, portrayed by Mackenzie Crook. She has the same charming propensity for misunderstanding and her invented phrases are hilarious. ‘Cross my heart and hope to fly’ and the ‘kipper’s knickers’ are just two of many. Teemu Juhani’s illustrations capture the personalities of the characters. The first meeting of the Sea Wizard, the aptly named Scowling Margaret, on page 70 would be one that would benefit from close scrutiny. The quality of the language used is something that really elevates this book making it a text worth spending time on and revisiting. Although there is a light-hearted feel to the book, there are serious underlying themes about protecting treasures from glory hunters and the value of friendship and teamwork.
This story would make a great read-aloud and I’d particularly recommend it for Lower Junior aged children. If you are studying rocks and soils in Year 3, then this is a light-hearted read which would make a great accompaniment to learning in science. It is the third in the series but does stand alone. Upon hearing it, I would expect children to be keen to read more adventures with Picklewitch and Jack so it’s a great way to hook them into a new series. The greatest compliment I can pay Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard’s Secret is that it made me want to rush and find a willing class of seven and eight-year-olds to read it to.
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