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Only A Witch Can Fly

Last updated Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Author: Alison McGhee
Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0312375034
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2010

Synopsis: This gentle, lyrical tale, written in the unusual poetic stanzas of a medieval sestina, recounts a young trick-or-treater's dogged attempts to make her dreams of flight come true. Linoleum block illustrations, in muted shades of green, orange, and brown and thick swathes of black and black line, juxtapose the cozy, rural details of a loving family's hearth and home with the shadowy, spooky outdoor world of jack-o'-lanterns, black cats, and bats under a full moon. The illustrative details ground and extend the story line of this part realistic, part magical tale, making the sophisticated text more accessible to younger listeners. "Hold tight to your broom/and float past the stars,/and turn to the heavens and soar." This is a quieter, more reflective addition to Halloween collections that offers an enchanting storytime read-aloud.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT

Note to readers:
•  Vocabulary Selection
•  PLUME: a large, long, or conspicuous feather; a visible pattern of smoke resulting from emissions from a stack, flue, or chimney.
•  CAULDRON: a large pot used for boiling, especially one with handles.
•  SOAR: to fly upward, as a bird. Also, to fly at a great height, without visible movements.
•  CROON: to sing or hum in a soft, soothing voice; to sing in an evenly modulated, slightly exaggerated manner.
•  VELVET: a fabric of silk, nylon, acetate, rayon, etc., sometimes having a cotton backing, with a thick, soft pile formed of loops of the warp thread either cut at the outer end or left uncut.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What can a witch do?
•  What time of year do you think it is?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever made a wish that you could fly?
•  Have you ever been in a plane or a hot air balloon? What did it feel like?

Craft ideas:
•  Witch's Broom: Roll a thick pieve of construction paper into a tube and tape ends of the tube. Once the tube is formed, cut one of it into long strips. Ruffle the strips to a look like the bottom of a broom.
•  Bat: template to be provided with book. Children can cut out, assemble, and color or decorate, etc. Show the small image of the finished craft (included in the template) to the children to help them see how the finished craft should look.
•  1. Identify the crescent shape piece (ears) and glue behind circle head piece.
•  2. Identify the oval body and glue assembled head behind it.
•  3. Glue assembled body/head in the middle of the wings.

Special activities:
•  Every time the little girl takes off on her broom, have all the kids run around the room in a pattern set by the Volunteer Reader.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!