Excuse Me... Are You a Witch?
Emily Horn, author
Emily Horn worked as a pre-school teacher in the United Kingdom and Australia for over 20 years. She now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her husband and their two daughters.
Read more about Emily.
Paweł Pawlak, illustrator
Paweł Pawlak has illustrated more than 30 books. He has won awards from the Art for Children Biennial in Poznan, Poland, and the Prix International Biennal pour Illustrateurs de Livres d'Infants, Hasselt, Belgium. He lives and works in Wroclaw, Poland.
Read more about Paweł.
- IRA/CBC Children's Choices
- Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
School Library Journal
Herbert, a lonely black cat, takes refuge in the library since it is warm and full of interesting books. He learns that witches love black cats, so he sets off to find one of his own. He discovers that not every person with striped stockings, a broom, or a cauldron is a witch, and, in fact may not like being asked the title question. The feline heads back to the library, where he is noticed by a class of little witches browsing the shelves, each of whom wants to take him home with her. The teachers solves the problem by suggesting that they take him to school and reassures him, "You're going to love being a witch-school cat!" Pawlak's engaging, angular paintings are offbeat, and filled with expressive detail. Pair this title with Caralyn and Mark Buehner's A Job for Wittilda (Dial, 1993; o.p.) for a storyhour about "off-season" witches and their cats or include it in a Halloween program. This cheery story of finding a place to belong will make a nice addition to most collections.
This whimsical story will entertain readers of all ages. Colorful, entertaining pictures capture the reader's interest as a a little black kitty, Herbert, travels about looking for a friend. He runs into some very interesting people, but not quite the witch he is looking for. Who would guess that he will find his person at the library! This is a wonderful story that will capture your heart each and every time you read it!
The title's interrogator is Herbert, a stray black kitten who reasons—based on his research in the library—that his ideal home would be with a pointy-hatted sorceress. Searching the city, he finds three likely candidates—a lady with striped stockings, a street cleaner with a broom and a witchy-looking lady cooking over a big pot—but his question only provokes fear, ridicule or outrage. "How dare you call me a witch!" the hag-like cook says, shaking her ladle. "Scram, you wicked cat! and don't come around here again!" Despite these spikes of drama, however, the story feels static.... Pawlak's acrylic illustrations pick up most of the slack. His strongly geometric, off-kilter renderings and thick, luminously mottled colors take on an almost cubist sense of energy. While he doesn't picture Herbert with a wide range of expressions, the feline's huge ears, intense yellow eyes and wiry whiskers exude a winsome vulnerability. Readers may not find this a wholly compelling tale, but they'll enjoy seeing this furry hero finally meet his match: an entire school of adoring young witches.
Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review
Herbert the black cat is a lonely little fellow and since he has no one to play with, he spends a lot of time in the library. One day he reads that witches often keep black cats as pets. Surely if Herbert can find one of these wonderful stripe-stockinged, black-hatted, cauldron stirring, broom riders, he will also find someone who will want to take him in.
So Herbert sets out trying to find a witch to be his friend. The poor cat meets people who wear striped stockings, who wear black hats, who stir a cauldron, and who have a broom and yet none of them is a witch. Indeed some of them are mortified when Herbert asks them "are you a witch?" Is Herbert going to find what he is looking for after all? Maybe he isn't looking in the right place.
This story about a youngster who is trying to find a home and a friend is both amusing and touching. Readers will not be able to help feeling sorry for he lonely little cat who wants so much to have someone in his life to talk to and to be with. Bold large pastel drawings capture the innocence of the little cat and the importance of his search.
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11