The Wayward Witch and the Feelings Monster: Polly and Buster Book One (Sally Rippin, HGE)
Polly is an unusual witch—she can’t read spells because the letters get jumbled and so she makes mistakes. Buster is an unusual monster—emotions make him shrink and swell. They are secretly the best of friends in a town where monsters and witches keep apart. When Buster is bullied because he acknowledges Polly in public, Polly, in her anger, unleashes a Protector spell and unwittingly finds herself feted as a hero, but for all the wrong reasons. Her actions are manipulated by the most popular girl at school to prove that monsters should be banished, which makes Polly uneasy. Yet as she starts to bask in the glory of being noticed, she also starts to deny knowing Buster. Polly soon realises that the cost of popularity is too high—but is it in time to retain the only true friend she has? This book contains all the big themes—friendship, family, empathising with others, holding on to what is right in the face of peer pressure—handled with heart if not depth. Illustrated by the author in a style that recalls early Aaron Blabey or Axel Scheffler, it promises to be the start of a series that middle-primary readers will want to follow.
Lindy Jones is a senior buyer, bookseller and children’s books manager at Abbey’s Bookshop in Sydney