CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Joanne Robertson
Illustrated by Laszlo Gal

Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1991. 32pp, cloth, $16.95
ISBN 0-19-540800-4. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 8/Ages 5 to 13
Reviewed by Joan Hewer

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

Menacing witches
Carried on clever haiku,
Spring from an adage:

"When you're done eating,
Give your eggshells a beating!
Never leave them whole!"

Joanne Robertson's first book Sea Witches is a delight from start to finish. Who of us has not heard similar warn­ings/sayings from a grandparent? In this story, the young lad questions his grandmother's warning, and the whole captivating yarn unravels. Like most such tales, it is seasoned with grains of truth: yes, storms at sea spring up suddenly without warning, bringing eery winds and monstrous waves, and often surprise and capsize vessels. Those living by the sea are only too aware of such tragedies. But how is all of this connected to eggshells... and witches? The secrets lie in this excellent book.

The story is actually a series of twenty-six haiku poems, a form Joanne Robertson found delighted her students, and one which could carry the power and magic of the tale. The illustrations, which comprise the bigger part of each page, are by Canadian artist Laszlo Gal, internationally famous for his illustra­tions of traditional legends and tales. Each page is bordered by a decoration reminiscent of designs by west coast native people depicting sea images. Gal's witches are far removed from the pointy hatted cliche; they have a spectral, siren-like quality more appro­priate to the tale.

In all, the book comes across as a solid unit — a compact experience of wonder and delight!

Joan Hewer, J.D. Hogarth Public School, Fergus, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works