I have ventured back into childhood books and if you have been following me for a while, then I have also shown a penchant for ‘school’ stories. Before Harry Potter there was Mildred Hubble…..
Created by the wonderful author Jill Murphy. Murphy also illustrates these simple witchy school stories. Simple but actually with wit and morals as all children’s stories should be?
Mildred Hubble is back at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, she is disaster prone, getting spells wrong, her potions muddled up and forever getting into trouble with Miss Hardbroom her form mistress. Mildred does not make things happen, things happen and Mildred seems to be there!
In the first book The Worst Witch (1974) Mildred turns her enemy, Ethel into a pig, her potion test goes wrong and the formation broomstick team to celebrate Halloween comes crashing down to earth. When she decides that perhaps the academy is not for her, she stumbles across a plot on the school and Mildred saves the day!
Back for the summer term in The Worst Witch Strikes Again (1980) Mildred is asked to look after the new girl,Enid but is she as quite as she seems, disaster now follows them around now. Mildred’s friend Maud is put out by her having to look after the new girl so takes up with Ethel, Mildred’s enemy from the previous term.
We have out of tune singing, monkeys and a last-minute “double broomstick display on a solo broomstick” but if you know Mildred then all though disaster seems to be around every corner, Mildred scrapes through another term.
This is the first two books in a series of six. I cannot remember if I have read any more of these, I remember these quite vividly and the wonderful illustrations just brought all the characters to life from the descriptions that Jill Murphy gives us.
Mildred was tall and thin with long plaits…while Maud was short and tubby, had round glasses and wore her hair in bunches…Enid was a tall girl, even taller than Mildred…with big hands and feet..hair…colour of milky tea…into a long, thick plait.
I have the next two to read, A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch (1982) and The Worst Witch All At Sea (1993) but will have to look out for the two after that The Worst Witch Saves the Day (2005) and The Worst Witch to the Rescue (2007).
They are obviously quick easy reads for an adult, but they are books I would love to share with a young person because to share something that I have read and enjoyed would be immense fun. Plus I would like to remind everyone that witches and schools does not all start and begin with that little boy wizard. You could say these were the forerunner and perhaps J.K.Rowling read them to her daughter and an idea was born.