I absolutely love Audrey and Don Wood, husband and wife team who write and illustrated books. I remember having my very own signed copy of their book when I was younger and gazing at the wonderful, realistic and lively illustrations that captured the character’s emotions on each page.
I honestly believe that Audrey Wood is one of the best story tellers story ever and each of her books are winners, but her husband’s pictures on each page really bring each tale come to life.
The story begins with a mother who has to go to town and leave her seven children, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, home alone for a bit. She gives them explicit instructions to not open the door to anyone before asking them what they want her to bring back from the market.
The children, of course, do not listen to their mother and open their cottage up to the very first witch that comes along the road. Her name is Heckedy Peg and after tricking the children, she immediately turns them into scrumptious food that she loads into her cart with great plans to devour!
The first messages in this book are pretty clear. Always listen to your mother and never, ever talk to strangers, even if they have a bag of gold to tempt you with!
After a while, the mother returns from the market with all her children’s gifts, and she is heartbroken to discover that her children are missing. With the help of a blackbird, she tracks down Heckedy Peg and does her best to win her kids back!
My kids loved this book when they were about three. Even though it is about a frightening witch who kidnaps and may partake in cannibalism if she gets her way (she eventually gets her comeuppance) my girls were captivated by it.
Personally, I do not think that it is darker than any Grimm fairy tale. Four years later, they still love this book and ask to hear it before bedtime!
Check out any Woods collaboration and you will not be disappointed! I have yet to be.