The Witch's Walking Stick
By Susan Meddaugh
(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Hardcover, 9780618529483, 32pp.)
Publication Date: August 2005
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Poor Margaret is waking up to another bad day. Ever since her parents died, her brother and sister have made her sweep the floors, chop the wood, cook the meals, feed the pigs, and anything else they can think to demand. Selfish, mean, and twice as big as Margaret, they always get their way. When at last Margaret has had enough, she runs away into the forest. Just as she is wondering how she will survive, she comes upon an old lady with a very sad story: a dog has run off with her walking stick, and she can’t do a thing without it. When the old lady promises Margaret a reward of three gold coins for its safe return, the girl readily agrees. Little does Margaret know that the old lady is really a witch, her reward a trick, and her walking stick a magic stick the witch has used to make a thousand miserable wishes come true . . .
Susan Meddaugh was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated from Wheaton College, where she studied French literature and fine arts. After working briefly with an advertising agency in New York, she moved to Boston and worked at a publishing company for ten years, first as a designer, then art editor, and finally as art director. While there, she did the illustrations for GOOD STONES (Houghton Mifflin) by Anne Epstein, and then decided to strike out on her own as a freelance illustrator and creator of children's books. Since that time, Susan has written and illustrated many popular books for children, including MARTHA SPEAKS, which was chosen as a NEW YORK TIMES Best Illustrated Book for 1992. In 1998 she was awarded the New England Book Award, given by the New England Booksellers Association to recognize a body of work. Her work also was acknowledged with a New York Times Best Illustrated Award. She lives in Sherborn, Massachusetts.
"Meddaugh sets her tale in the kind of archetypically bucolic landscape where magic of the stouter sort happens, with dramatically effective contrasts between full-page pictures of the witch's looming woods and spaciously set spot illustrations of Margaret getting the better of her bossy older sister and brother.Wishing for a good read-aloud? You've got it." --Horn Book, starred Horn Book, Starred
"Illustrated with watercolor and ink in a style that will put readers in mind of William Steig, Meddaugh’s dry, quirky tale of the little guy” triumphing over adversity will have children smiling and cheering." --School Library Journal School Library Journal
"This droll original fairy tale treats timeless themes of injustice and comeuppance. . . . Younger siblings will particularly sympathize with the deceptively tiny Margaret, and cheer her on as she exacts her fierce, gleeful vengeance upon her oh-so-deserving elders." --Booklist Booklist, ALA
"If the masterly execution of 'The Witch's Walking Stick' is anything to go by, Susan Meddaugh's work is rising to a new level. I suspect that for decades to come her books will be the recipient of that greatest honor: children asking their parents to read favorites like "Martha Speaks" or "The Witch's Walking Stick" -- and then read them again and again." --New York Times Book Review New York Times Book Review Notable Book