Book Review: What is a Witch (and others in its series)

So I promised a book review this week and instead we’re doing three. We recently bought all three books in the Pagan Children Learning Series by Rowan Moss and Illustrated by T.S. Lamb. Each book contains a simple lesson for children on a major concept related to our faith. Book one is Who is Witch? The second is What is Magic?  And the final book is What are the Elements?

So let’s talk about each element of these books.

Illustrations

Each book contains gorgeous water color illustrations. They are also simple images, which makes the book seem all the more organic.  They don’t take up the whole page, but the water colored dark branch boarders on the white page also gives the book a sort of elegance that even my ten month old seemed to appreciate. I should also note that each book has its own boarder set, which still gives the book a sort of elegance while distinguishing it from the rest. I think that the artwork will please adult and child alike.

Age level

While I read this to Freya at 10 months, I would definitely say that it’s not designed to be a book for infants. I just wanted to get it while I A. remembered it existed and B. had the money. The series is definitely aimed at pre and early readers. Freya still enjoyed listening and looking at the pictures, but between the language and the craft in the back…it’s definitely something aimed at an older child than the one I currently have.

Vocabulary

One of the features I like about this book is that each one has a glossary of terms that your child may or may not have heard you or their parents say (whichever is applicable).  The words are defined both on that page and in a glossary for review at the end of the book.  The glossary words are in a different color as well, so that the child can distinguish them from the rest of the words on the page.

Writing

The writing could seem a bit dry to a child if they aren’t interested in the subject. It’s very simply written which is good for a child or young reader.  Now I do want to go into a bit more detail as to each book here. In Who is a Witch? the author addresses many issues concerning the title of the book. Namely why people are afraid of witches.

It does this in a fantastic way that I hope will help Freya feel good about herself as she grows up.  It doesn’t go so in depth as to interfere with any particular path or tradition, but it still answers all the questions in a very simple and understandable manner.  I particularly enjoyed the mention of kitchen witches, covens, and solitary practice without putting too much of a focus on any of them.

In What is Magic? It covers being careful in spell work and only doing it with adult supervision. It also talks very simply about what people believe magic is.

To quote the book “Some people believe that magic comes from within. They believe you have the power within you to create change. Some people believe that magic is a gift from the divine or that it is energy pulled from the world around you.”

One of the other things I enjoyed about this series is more prevalent in the second and third book.  They ask questions to start discussions within your family. Throughout the book, if there is a portion that could vary based on your tradition or point of view, the book asks the child “What does your family believe?” I think this is a great way to get children thinking about what they believe, what their family believes, and why. Better yet, it leads the child to ask you the questions about the faith they are participating in with you.  I really liked that aspect of these books.

Finally, in What are the elements?, we have what I would consider the most comprehensive of the books, which makes sense as this is a larger sum of information.  Aside from going over the basic theories (in simple language) of how some witches perceive the elements, it shares a number of basic correspondences for each element.

Each element’s name is put in its corresponding color, though it is noted that different groups may use different colors. So it denotes the two most common (where applicable). For those of you who don’t know, outside of the US there are other cultures and hemispheres that call the elements different names or use different colors (usually in the southern hemisphere). The nuances of this are not covered in this book, but I found it fascinating that they still covered it, so that if a family does differ from our common perception, that there is a chance for a dialogue.

Under each element they also discuss what the element can be represented by on an altar, its directional correspondence, whether it is a masculine or feminine element, and if it is specifically used to represent the God or Goddess in some traditions. It also discusses sprit and how it is special and different from the rest. It stays a bit vague on this point and asks your children to question you (the parent or family member) as to the family’s beliefs.

It then goes on to describe how the elements are used in spells going into more specific goal/emotional correspondences as well as seasons related to each element.

Craft

Each book also contains a craft to engage your child. Each is somewhat related to the topic or at least should be entertaining to your child. It has detailed instructions as to what to do and I think it really does help tie together the lesson. It may even be a time when you can discuss what was learned with the child.  They can be talking about the book while you do the craft. I can’t wait until Freya is old enough to test this idea. I just hope it works (fingers crossed).

The craft in the first book is making wild animal treats that you can hang in your yard.

The second book features a make your own wand craft.

And the final book craft is making an elemental collage.

Yay or Nay?

I would definitely say yay! I wasn’t sure when I first started looking at the books. At a cursory glance, the pages seem so much duller than the bright vibrant color, but when reading them, it works. I realized that my child didn’t need excessively bright and colorful images to engage her in the book, even at ten months. This may differ a bit depending on your child, but I still think that most pagan or even curious children, will still find this book visually engaging.

I also think the book is simple enough to understand and if there’s any confusion it already prompts family discussion, which I think is fantastic. There are not enough informational children’s books that do this, particularly if they are religiously oriented.

My only con is that it is a bit pricy. They are paperback and on Amazon they currently range between 9 and 10 dollars each for a new copy. I know it could be worse, but then again, I think a lot of children’s books are way overpriced anymore. I don’t know, maybe I’m just cheap, but as of this article, they do have some cheaper options in the used section (though why you would ever get rid of this book I don’t personally know).  And those cheaper options are around 7 dollars, which is at least a little bit of savings.

Still, I am excited for this book series. It is a godsend in a world that really doesn’t have a lot of children’s books aimed at pagan children. As much as I love the Minnie Mouse and Friends series my grandmother got me as a child, or all the golden books we have, it is nice to find a few books that can help me share my faith with my daughter or with a child who is curious (provided I get parental permission of course).

I really hope you will check these books out though. They are well worth it.
Have a great day everyone.

Blessed Be.

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