#365PictureBooks Day 5 – the enduring popularity of Winnie the Witch

I was curious to dig into our Library stats for 2014 and see which picture book had been the most popular – at least in terms of checkouts or issues.

Winnie’s midnight dragon was issued 20 times last year.

In this story, Winnie and Wilbur have a night to remember when something scaly squeezes through the cat-flap just after the clock strikes twelve.

Winnie the witch and her lovable cat Wilbur,  have featured in 15 picture books published over more than 28 years. Children are drawn to the bright colours and vivid illustrations that Korky Paul purposefully created, wanting to avoid the stereotypical image of a witch all in black. Even very young children seem to love pouring over the detailed illustrations and identifying all manner of objects and expressions.

The first Winnie the Witch book won the Redhouse Children’s Book Award in 1988.

The Winnie the Witch series has sold over five million copies worldwide and has been translated into over twenty five languages. The stories are presented in a variety of formats from board books, picture books, junior fiction, and activity books.

My favourite in the series is Happy Birthday Winnie

“Winnie is celebrating her birthday with a garden party. Using her special magic, she invites the guests and transforms her garden. There are presents to unwrap and games to play but things start to go wrong when all her guests disappear! True to form, Winnie soon has everything back under control and she ends the party with a surprise treat for her guests to enjoy.” [Publisher website]. This has a fabulous fold-out page. Sadly our copy is looking a little scruffy due to too much love and I will be thinking about a replacement this year!

The  Winnie the Witch “Young fiction” early chapter books, each containing four short Winnie stories, are written by Laura Owen and illustrated by Korky Paul. These are ideal for children starting to read independently. They combine the familiar, lovable  character with more challenging text and black and white  illustrations. These have been a hit with our 5-7 year old readers.  (Another picture book series that transitions this way is the Hubble Bubble series from Tracey Corderoy and published by Nosy Crow).

Where to buy etc:

The Winnie the Witch books are still in print and are available widely.

Other links:

Article from the Telegraph celebrating 25 years of Winnie the Witch and highlighting the illustrative passion of Korky Paul.

Official Winnie the Witch website for a complete list of all titles in each format, as well as activities for children.

Oxford University Press website with teacher and librarian resources.

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