Little Gem by Anna Zobel

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A sparkling new series by Melbourne writer illustrator Zobel, will speak volumes to those kids who love all things a bit mysterious and zany as Gem’s latest spell goes remarkably awry. Practising her travel spells at Witchcraft School lands her not only in a different village but in a different time. She is in awe of her new surroundings, but convinced that she will be able to return, but the villagers of Ellsworth Pining welcome her as their new witch come to reside in the witch house on the hill, complete with its ghost, Henry, and so be able to do all the witch things that witches do to help her community. She is unconvinced and when some of the spells go wrong again she confides to Henry that she hasn’t passed Witchcraft School and has no idea of how she got to be where she is. But the Weather Watcher is missing, and the weather has been terrible ever since, and after going to the Lighthouse to see what has happened, they become embroiled in solving the mystery. Trying a new spell, one that returns things lost, she and Henry are besieged by all the village’s lost things from years gone by. She is at a loss how to right things, but is buoyed up by the support and enthusiasm of the villagers. There seems to be a beast in the village: several people, including Gem have had sights of it as it scurries from one hiding place to the next.

This is a charming story of a young girl finding her home: of fitting in with a community she at first felt was beyond her. Her bravery and adaptability, her willingness to try even though she makes mistakes, are endearing, and the fun of the story will hook readers from the first page.

And the second in the series, Little Gem and the mysterious letters will be out in 2021 with its first chapter at the end of this book as a teaser.

Themes: Humour, Witchcraft, Friendship, Bravery, Spells, Village life.

Fran Knight