A Witch’s Primer, Grade 1

(Review originally published 2012, book purchased by reviewer)

Let’s start with the basics:  I bought this book to review because I really liked the premise. Ms. Manderly says in the intro that she is interested in the idea of a Pagan school (parochial school) and felt there wasn’t anything out there that would serve as an appropriate text book.

Unlike most of the reviewers on amazon.com, I think this book failed to really reach that potential.

A Witch’s Primer, Grade One

Each chapter has a few pages of text, a summary (sometimes as much as half the length of the chapter), and questions for review. In that sense, it’s set up like many text books, though the summaries in most texts are considerably shorter than the chapter, which makes me think more details were needed in the chapters themselves. There are no pictures, which seems odd for a book meant for teaching children.

The book feels very scattered – eighteen chapters in 156 pages. It’s also sometimes confusing – in one chapter, the author starts out talking about how we will discuss Greek gods, and then switches pantheons without any segue. She has 2 chapters about the gods, in fact, which at times seem to contradict each other. Some chapters seem very light on information, and some feel like there’s far too much for the age group this is intended for.  Her chapter on “Myths and Legends” focuses entirely on Arthurian Legend, which seems a bit deceptive – there are plenty of other myths and legends out there, related to the deities she’s discussed elsewhere, but they’re never mentioned.

I’d also quibble a bit with her title. Not all witches are Wiccan, but what she’s written is really a Wiccan primer.

Finally…she spends a fair number of chapters talking about spells, herbs, potions, and the like, all the while telling children not to do any of these things without supervision. It seems like an awful lot of information to give a child if you don’t want them to actually use it.

All that said…I still might use this with my kids, with careful editing and thinking about whether the chapters are sending the message I want to send to them. It’s written so that a mid-elementary school aged child could read it easily, so that might work too if you’re planning to have an in-depth discussion with your children about what they’re reading.

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