332V: Witch Balls & a Cursed Child’s Palm

I read this book at some point during late grade school/junior high, probably between 4th & 8th grade, so somewhere between 1980-86. It was a pre-teen horror of the old school, by which I mean it assumes kids can actually handle seriously creepy, potentially life-threatening stuff. It was an older library book that our awesome school librarian recommended to me. Maybe published in the 50's or 60's? Definitely before the late 70's, given the age of the library's copy & when I read it. Unfortunately, there's no cover art I can reference as it had a green cloth binding with no dust jacket.

I don't remember much of the plot but what I do remember is as follows: A junior-high aged girl goes to visit her grandmother for the summer in a small village. Grandma is a witch (good, natch). Another woman has moved into town & grandma suspects her to be a bad witch. Bad witch tries to start a witch war. I can't remember if it was for a specific reason or just because she was a bad witch & that's what bad witches do. Similar in feel to The House With a Clock In Its Walls series or the Green Knowe books but a smidge darker. I believe it was located somewhere in New England, but I wouldn't swear to it. I *think* there were cars & telephones but the time frame was kinda vague. Or my memory is. And that's all for the overall plot.

I do, however, remember some weird specifics. The grandma hung a witch ball over the front door to see if the new neighbor was evil. She had a bottle tree, too. There were lots of nifty little folkloric witchy things like that. The thing that sticks clearest in my mind is that grandma gets a letter with what appears to be child's hand print. Grandma recognizes it as the actual skin of a child's hand & proceeds to place the skin inside an old Bible, which she wraps up tightly so it can't be opened because said palm skin is a curse. That scene has stuck with me ever since I read it, as one might imagine. It's pretty unique. Other than that, I can remember exactly where it was located in my grade school library but that's probably not much help. (Second from last bookcase on the left, third shelf from the top, right side, below the Nancy Drew books.)

 

317J: The Singing Heart

The Singing Heart – may not be the title, but that is how I remember it.   It was a hardcover I encountered as a child in the 70s.   It was heavily illustrated with black line drawings and was probably aimed at ages 9-12 perhaps.    In it a woman (maybe a good witch) dies, but her heart goes on singing.   Two kings wind up trying to get the singing heart; eventually they meet as beggars and become friends, having lost everything.   Pretty sure there is a wicked witch with a wicked dog.   In my mind the illustrations are similar to some in the Glass Harmonica, but I’m not sure about that.   I think one of the kings was named “Bagdamugus” or the like.
Thanks for any help!

294B: A witch, a storm and perhaps a cave

I read this book in the 1980s, however I think it was older.  It had something to do with a child living in a house on the ocean.  I vaguely remember something about a witch and a storm (and perhaps a cave?)  The rest is a little fuzzy.  It may have taken place in New England, but it had nothing to do with Salem.  I realize that this may not help at all, but I had to ask.

291B: He forgot to go “widdershins” (Solved)

Children’s book, enjoyed in ’60’s but probably from ’30’s or 40’s, possibly English.  Included a story about young brother and sister in a churchyard (castle yard?), playing with a ball.  The brother (possibly named Roland) went to retrieve the ball when it went over a fence, but forgot to go “widdershins” and was taken by a witch.  The little girl goes in search of her brother.  (It is possible the girl was taken and the boy went to save her, but I remember it as the girl.)  Illustrated with sweet old-fashioned colored drawings.

The story “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” may be in the same collection, or may just have been in the same bookcase.

288D: Woman in black kidnaps kids

It is a “scary” children’s picture book about a woman dressed in all black and she kidnaps children. She has a black hat with a black veil, yet has yellow eyes that can still be seen. She carries an umbrella and a bag of bricks. She has pilgrim buckle type shoes. She can run really fast and creates a black streak as she passes. As she kidnaps more kids, the parents of the remaining children send them to school with protection. The zookeeper’s son arrives with a boa constrictor around his neck, the beekeeper’s son wears a beehive, the military kid rides up in a tank, etc. The lady in black even takes a teacher. They eventually catch her and she leads the police to a cave where the children and teacher are kept, unharmed. The lady then slips out of the handcuffs and escapes. The book was written in English and had colored illustrations. I read it in Minnesota, USA in the mid-to-late 90s. I remember a specific illustration in which the lady is hiding behind a pole at a bus stop, just before she takes a kid.

282A: A dollhouse with a little witch living inside

This is a book that was in the library when I was in grade school so early 90’s. It was already vintage then, probably 70’s-80’s, but I actually have no idea as to the publishing date. It is about a young girl who acquires/has a dollhouse with a little witch living inside who is alive and rides around on her broom. If I remember correctly the house is in the room where she is staying with an old relative. I think someone’s name started with an S, possibly Samantha, but I could be mistaken.

260F: Girl raised by witches is really a fairy (Solved)

There was a book that I always took out of my elementary school library between 1975 and 1978.  Although I do not have the title, what I recall is as follows:

The book is about witches and fairies.  The little witch in the story never felt right with the other witches, they were mean. I think she used to see the fairies and wish she was one of them.  The middle gets fuzzy but towards the end she discovers that when she was a baby she was caught in the witches web and that’s how she came to be with them.  But she was really a fairy and was returned to them.

I know this is not much but at 47 years old I cannot put this story out of my mind.  I have always been an avid reader and hope to find this book.  It will haunt me otherwise.

247D: Beautifully illustrated, cobwebby witches: Agatha and Hecate (Solved)

This was a paperback, and I was born in 1974 so I would have read this sometime between, day, 1980 and 1988.  Probably suited for ages 6-12.

There were beautiful spidery-looking line drawing illustrations –  almost like Edward Gorey’s but a bit more complex and not so cartoony.

 

There were witch sisters, Agatha and Hecate.  They were not good witches.  There was a misguided/bad man who worked for the witches named Oswald.  The main characters were (maybe) siblings and the other main character was a girl they met who knew her way around the magical world where the witches were, and the lot of them got out of troublesome situations by stomping three times on a manhole cover.  when they did that, they would instantly be whisked out of the place and land somewhere else.  They used this at least once to escape the witches and Oswald.

241C: A Boy and a Witch Named Gherkin

The book in question is an older British book, I remember finding it around the mid-to-late 90s, about a young boy being raised by his “aunt” (I clearly remember that she loved taking baths with the Purple People Eater fragrance, which was used later in the book by a sewer-comber who knew where her house was because of the smell) who is approached by a young witch who thinks she’s an outcast because she isn’t ugly, whose name is Gherkin, along with a few other strange characters – including an animal from the island each of them is from that looks like a soft white seal, loves music more than anything, and emits a thick fog when happy. The boy is the lost son of the king and queen of the island, and is the only one who can help save them from some calamity.