Witch Wars Review and Author Interview

Sibeal Pounder and Laura Ellen Anderson (illustrator)
WitchWarsCoverFINALWhen Fran the Fabulous Fairy turns up in Tiga Whicabim’s shed to tell her she’s a witch, Tiga doesn’t believe her. Or at least not until Fran points out that TIGA WHICABIM is actually an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH and magics her away down the drainpipes to compete in Witch Wars – the competition to crown the next Top Witch of Ritzy City.
Filled with silly spells, delectable dresses, ridiculous riddles and a serious shoe problem, Witch Wars is a witch story like no other. Although if you enjoyed The Worst Witch or Witchworld, you’ll love this too

Move aside Hermione Granger! Tiga’s in town…

I was pleasantly surprised by Witch Wars. Despite its menacing title, this was a cheery, funny and light hearted book.

Life as she knows it, is literally going down the drain for Tiga, when out of the blue… well purple fairy dust an extravagant fairy named Fran (or Fran the Fabulous Fairy as she would prefer to be known) appears out of nowhere, to reveal to Tiga a world of magic more commonly known as Ritzy City. Approximately one day before the start of Witch Wars Tiga arrives in an unreal land of good and bad where she picks up many a friend and has a shot at winning witch wars. With nine competitors, all wanting the coveted prize: to rule Ritzy City and beyond, the stakes were high.
With some evil, some good and some plain dumb contestants the competition was hotter than ever but who would win…

Witch Wars has been by far the best book I’ve read this year! Full of action, humour and epicness this book was awesome. The chapters are nice and short and are perfect for flicking in and out of.It is very fast paced and never leaves you bored. Consequently, some of the events aren’t explained as fully as I’d like.

Over all this is an amazing book and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes Harry Potter from 8+ (and feels like a good read.)

Verdict: I’m already looking forward to Witch Switch out later this year!

As a special treat Sibeal has kindly answered some of Izzy’s pressing questions.

Sibéal Pounder Head Shot credit Richard Grassie low res-1Sibéal Pounder currently works as a writer and researcher for the Financial Times’ How To Spend It section and has interviewed everyone from designer Vivienne Westwood to director Sam Taylor-Wood. She also tutors children who want to get into the media industry, helping them to develop articles and documentary shorts and teaching them how to put together magazines. Sibéal has a degree in History, a masters in Publishing and recently completed the Faber Academy’s Writing for Children course. Learn more about Sibeal on the Bloomsbury site here.

Where did your inspiration for Ritzy City come from?

I loved witches when I was little, Izzy! And also I had a bit of a weird obsession with sink pipes. I would say things like, ‘We just don’t know what’s down there!’, even though everyone assured me we definitely did.

I always worried it was something terrible, but after reading Alice in Wonderland when I was about eight, I realised it was almost definitely a world. And maybe it had witches in it. I imagined a bossy little fairy shooting out of the sink, pinching my nose and shouting ‘FINALLY! I knew you would figure it out EVENTUALLY.’

Over the years, Fran (as I later named her) stuck with me – all through school and until I was a wrinkly older human and I started writing snippets of it down, for fun, and began linking the witches to the pipes. Things like, witches hats are only pointy in our world because they’re sucked up the pipes – down in Sinkville they’re flat.

Do you base any of your characters around people you know?

I tend not to because if you base a character on someone (especially someone alive) and then you want the character to do something horrible, it makes it difficult to write it without thinking, Oh no, I hope the person won’t mind me writing this bit about them being DISGUSTING… But, I did name Peggy after my gran and Mrs Clutterbuck is based on a woman called Mrs Maypother, who owned the newsagents in Sandymount, Dublin (she gave me free chocolate, Izzy. She was the best). And Felicity Bat and the way she treats Peggy is based on when I was bullied at school. Luckily the girls who bullied me couldn’t levitate!

Would you say it’s hard to write a book about witchs after the bestseller Harry Potter?

Good question! Yes and no. Yes in terms of making it unique (see next question), but no in the sense that JK Rowling has done wonders for books! Kids love fantasy books more than ever now, and so many kids get into reading because of her. So really, if anything, it’s easier to write a book – even a book about witches – because of JK Rowling and Harry.

If so, do you think it’s hard to not pinch ideas from J.K Rowling?

It can be hard! If you create your own world, like Witch Wars’ Sinkville, it helps because you determine the terrain and can make it very different to somewhere like Hogwarts and Rowling’s amazing wizarding world.

Luckily, my witches are more flamboyant and mad and many of them are caricatures, so that means the content is a lot more of a farce and doesn’t have much crossover with Harry Potter in that sense.
Where I do put in similar references, I love to play around with the fact it’s a pinched idea and make that the joke. For example, a really common construct in kids stories is to have an other-world being meet the kid in the story and take them to a magical world – think of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Wendy, the rabbit and Alice in Alice in Wonderland, and Hagrid in Harry Potter. In the opening scene of Witch Wars, Fran (the Fabulous Fairy) meets Tiga and tells her she’s a witch, exactly like, “You’re a wizard Harry.” But in Tiga’s case, when she doesn’t believe her, Fran points out that when you jumble up the letters in Tiga’s name it spells I AM A BIG WITCH. She can’t argue with that. So it’s taking a familiar set-up and messing with it to make a joke.

There’s also some blatant pinching from Mary Poppins – like when Patricia the Producer comes sailing into the scene, flying with an umbrella and Fran says “She saw it in a film once and now it’s the only way she’ll travel.” And Patricia sings “SUPERCALAFRAGI-“ before crash landing. I try to always overtly reference stuff like that rather than being like, “so…this is my character Garry Rotter, he has a star on his head and a crow called Redfig. His nemesis is Mouldersnort…”

Review and interview questions by Izzy (11)

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: March 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 127
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Izzy (11)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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