Picklewitch and Jack

Authored by Claire Barker
Illustrated by Teemu Juhani
Published by Faber & Faber

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Picklewitch and Jack by Claire Barker is the story of two very different children; Jack’ winner of the ‘Most Sensible Boy in School’ for the third year running’ and Picklewitch who lives in a walnut tree at the bottom of the garden of Rookery Heights.

After moving into a new house, Jack finds himself joining his new school where he is excited at the thought of making new friends, something he hasn’t had before. However, the friend that chooses to join him at St Immaculate’s School for the Gifted isn’t quite the friend that Jack had planned. Join them both, as they explore the Rules of Friendship in an amusing and magical way complete with slapstick comedy, teacher- ‘Flandanglery’ and a quiz final which takes an unexpected turn. The story also involves a wheelbarrow full of cake which is always a good thing in my opinion!

I loved the ‘wurds’ used by Picklewitch in this book such as ‘Glimlight’ (candle) and ‘Boxie’ (house dwellers), and I am sure children would enjoy making up some of their own. I also liked the way the book looked at friendship when friends fall out and how important it is to work together.

Overall, I would recommend this book for a class read-aloud for lower juniors. It offers a good opportunity to practise some great voices for the characters and lots of time to discuss what the story really tells us about friendship and what being ‘gifted’ actually means. There are plans for further adventures, and I look forward to catching up with them both on their next escapade.