Today, I am excited to welcome Stacy DeKeyser, author of One Witch at a Time, to the blog to discuss her latest middle grade book...and to share my thoughts on her wonderful re-imagining of Jack and the Beanstalk. Be sure to stick around to see the last book that kept her reading late into the night and who she thinks could save the world from a robot invasion.
When Rudi Bauer sets out for town one morning to trade, he never dreams that Susanna Louisa will sell his family’s cow—for magic beans, no less! But that’s exactly what she does, and the consequences will be disastrous unless Rudi can return the magic beans to their rightful owner, the evil witch of Petz.First Sentence:
The journey to Petz is long and hard, but Rudi and Susanna Louisa soon find a shortcut: a magically sprouted beanstalk leads them straight there...and straight into danger. Because the evil witch of Petz is a terrible giant who has locked away summer and keeps his kingdom a frozen wasteland. And in order to defeat him, Rudi is going to need a little magic of his own.
The boy hurried along the road as quickly as he could manage while tugging the hand of a squirmy girl.
You know what, I really, really enjoy re-tellings of fairy tales. There's just something about seeing a fairy tale retold that captures my attention; I like seeing the twist and changes each author brings to an old story and how they make it their own. So, of course, that meant that I could not say no to joining in the blog tour for One Witch at a Time.
In the realm of re-imagined fairy tales, of which I've read my fair share, what set One Witch a Time apart from the rest was the characters and their stories. Oh, how I enjoyed reading about Rudi, Susanna Louisa and all the characters (I'll get back to them in a minute). Yet, it was the mythology behind he rule of witches and the crossing over of powers from one place to the next that really intrigued me. I guess you could say that I enjoyed the structure of the world and how things were laid out- rule-wise. It is these little things that really make a book, especially one were magic is involved.
What I really enjoyed about the characters is that there was more to them then one first thought. Like Susanna Louisa, I found her to be flighty and little annoying at first. Yet, the more the book progressed the more her character started to really shone through. While I wasn't annoyed with Rudi, I found him interesting because he had so much to deal with in regards to being on friendly terms with the local witch. It was interesting to see how he developed through the book and began to handle the responsibility that came with the that association.
The world! The world, I cannot say how much I enjoyed the world within One Witch at a Time! I really did enjoy the vast differences between Petz and Brixen; also how different the two witches were with their interactions between their respective villages. I don't want to say too much more about this book and risk spoiling it for y'all. Just know this, it was every bit as awesome as I was hoping it to be. Great writing and world building, excellent characters that showed remarkable growth, and fascinating re-imagining of a fairy tale. Definitely a win=win situation here.
Final Verdict: One Witch at a Time- Probably one of the most interesting middle grade fairy tale re-imagining I've read.
One Witch at a Time earns
About the author:
Stacy DeKeyser is the author of The Brixen Witch, which received two starred reviews and was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Pick, and its sequel, One Witch at a Time, as well as the young adult novel, Jump the Cracks and two nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Connecticut with her family. To learn more and to download a free, CCSS-aligned discussion guide, visit StacyDeKeyser.com.
You can haunt Stacy DeKeyser at-
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1. In seven words tell us about Once Witch at a Time.
Territorial witches, escaped magic, beanstalk, courageous kids.
2. Family cow, magic beans smells like trouble to me. What kind of trouble will Rudi and Susanna Louisa find themselves facing as they try to right their wrong? Why do you think readers will enjoy reading about Rudi and Susanna Louisa's adventures?
Poor Rudi seems to get lots of people mad at him: His grandmother, the Brixen Witch, a pretty foreign girl, an ornery hen, and a really greedy giant. He’s even mad at himself, for letting Susanna Louisa tag along. On top of everything else, he forgets his mittens.
Rudi and Susanna are very normal kids. They don’t have superpowers. They have arguments. But they are smart and resourceful, and they have friends in high places (figuratively and literally!). Most of all, even though they try very hard to do the right thing, they still get into trouble. I think most kids will know what that’s like.
3. Stacy, what drew you to writing a re-imagining of the story Jack and the Beanstalk?
I’ve always been fascinated by fairy tales. They were some of the first things I read on my own (the really gruesome versions!). But a lot of what happens in fairy tales has no explanation. You’re just supposed to accept that giants hoard treasure, or that a magic beanstalk will grow where you want it to, or that Jack is smart enough to outwit a giant but stupid enough to trade a whole cow for a handful of beans. There is so much that begs explanation.
4. What are your, top three, favorite fairy tale retellings? What do you like about them over the original versions?
This is a hard one, because in most cases, I prefer the (gruesome) originals.
Can I include my own book in the list? I hope that The Brixen Witch is a more satisfying story than the original Pied Piper tale.
Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle has beautifully creepy illustrations, and expands the Sleeping Beauty story in a really satisfying way.
And I love Sondheim’s Into the Woods, for the way it pulls several classic tales into one story. (And it’s appropriately gruesome when it needs to be!)
5. If you could have tea with any author, dead or living, who would it be? What would be the first question you asked them?
Terry Pratchett. I’d be pretty awestruck, so I’d probably only manage to ask, “Could we have a pint together instead of tea?”
6. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose?
Tiffany Aching, from Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men series. She is so brave and resourceful. Even though she’s never seen a robot before, she’d figure out what to do.
7. Last book that kept you reading late into the night?
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It’s one of her time-travel books, and probably the most gruesome. (Hmm—I’m detecting a theme here!) I couldn’t put it down. It’s about a history student in the near future who travels back to England at the outbreak of the Black Death. Cheery, right? But the glimpse into that period of history was fascinating, and the characters were so real.
You can watch the trailer for One Witch at a Time and continue on with the tour by checking out tomorrows tour stop at Mother Daughter Book Club.
this book was received in exchange for an honest review