Garlic & the Witch by Bree Paulsen

Garlic & the Witch by Bree Paulsen. Quill Tree Books, 2022. 9780062995117

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Paperback graphic novel

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? A kind ‘ingredient witch’ named Agnes plants her garden, and little vegetable creatures grow. Carrot, Onion, Turnip, Potato and Garlic go about their lives, tending their own gardens in a peaceful community. Garlic loves to visit Agnes and the friendly Count, who lives nearby. When she notices that her hands have developed fingers, Garlic confides in the Count. Is she becoming human? But she puts aside her worries and goes to the market with him to find the ingredients needed for Agnes’s next batch of ‘blood substitute potion,’ which Agnes is making to help Count live a life without killing.

This is a charming, cozy tale of good magic and transformation. Garlic’s journey is like a coming of age story, a universal tale of becoming. The lovely digital art relies on a soothing garden-y green palette, and portrays the garden denizens with affectionate individualism. I loved the diversity in gender and relationships among them. This is a stand alone companion novel to Garlic & the Vampire, which I now want to read.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? Middle grade readers who loved the Witch Boy series by Molly Knox Ostertag or the Oddly Normal series by Otis Frampton will love this.

Who should buy this book? Elementary, middle school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Graphic fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: September 12, 2022

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