240pp., hbk. RRP $A14.99
Sometimes getting a little lost can help you discover who you really are . . .
When her travelling spell at Witchcraft School goes wrong, Gem lands in an unfamiliar, empty, seemingly derelict cottage, outside a strange, colourful town beside the sea, a long way from the school on top of snow-covered mountains where she had begun. But not only was this somewhere she didn’t know, it was a century on from the time she had been in! Telling herself she is not frightened but she is confused, Gem steps out to discover just what has happened.
Everyone in Ellsworth Pining thinks Gem is their new village witch, even when Gem tries to correct them. And Gem’s new friends do need her. The Weather Worker is missing, and there are tales of a terrifying beast in the woods. So, with the help of her cat Pomelo and the ghost Henry she not only sets out to solve the mystery but starts to believe that maybe she is not the worst witch after all.
This is a charming new series for young readers who enjoy a bit of magic mixed in with reality, and who, like Miss 9, have enjoyed series like Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch. With all the scaffolding needed to support them including plenty of line illustrations, the reader will quickly be drawn into the life of Ellsworth Pining engaging not only with this first story but building anticipation for new episodes to come. Zobel was inspired to create the characters by children she had met – share this clip to help aspiring young writers understand that stories don’t appear by magic (even if Gem did) and that story starters are all around if we just look for them.