Meg and Mog – Helen Nicoll & Jan Pieńkowski

POINTS: 5 out of 10.

Bechdel: 1 point
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points. This book is such fun
Discretionary ideological points: 2 point

Meg and Mog is the first in a series about a rather jovial witch and her (mis)adventures with her cat, Mog, and her friend the Owl. The story is very simple, with bold, bright illustrations. I love the way bits of dialogue are presented as speech bubbles, and various sound effects show up scattered across the pages like a comic book, making the book straddle the line between picture book and comic. I’m a big fan of picture books that play with the text and incorporate it into the illustrations, and this is an excellent example of that.

I’m giving it the Bechdel point, because Meg meets up with her four friends (who are also fellow witches with names – Bess, Jess, Tess and Cress) and they do spells together. Which is almost like dialogue, right? The truth is, I’m giving it the point because I think the book achieves the spirit of the thing – and real female friendship unrelated to boys is rare in kids books, and even more so in books not explicitly “for girls”. Okay, in the end Meg accidentally turns her four friends into mice and has to (for unexplained reasons) wait till Halloween to fix it, but nevertheless!

Covens of witches portrayed as totally okay and normal? That’s some subversive feminist shit right there. ;P (Honestly, I could probably write a whole academic paper on this topic, and the nature of witches and ‘wise women’ in children’s stories, but I am going to leave it at this for now.)

Meg is who she is, unapologetically, and that combined with the really innovative approach to text on the page and the upbeat approach of the book in general make it a total pleasure to read. I recommend it.

What do you think? Do you like Meg and Mog books? Do you have other books about witches you love?

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