The children’s picture book “Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest” is a delightful and cozy book for cuddling with the kids this winter. The art is what initially drew me into this book; the colorful illustrations are simple, yet striking. It seems reminiscent of Beatrix Potter’s tales and art. If you love the outdoors, living off the land, and anything to do with nature and living in a cottage in the woods away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, you will absolutely adore this book.
The protagonist, Hazel, is a small witch with a bright red, cone-shaped hat who lives in a forest and tends to herself, the land and her neighbors. Our story carries us through all the seasons, but starts in spring. The forest is refreshing and the flowers are blooming when she finds a large egg and decides to hatch it in her own home. It hatches into an owlet and she helps raise it, soon finding the bird leaving her home.
Summer comes a time for her to realize that relaxing and taking time to care for yourself is just as important as getting chores done. Enjoying a raft on the river and the racket of being around friends late into the night. Sometimes when life is getting in the way of us doing things we want done, we need to take a step back and give it some time before starting at it again.
When autumn arrives, a strange noise is heard throughout the forest. Many of Hazel’s friends have outlandish ideas of what is causing such a ruckus, which makes the forest folk a little scared as they follow Hazel to the noise. The noise turns out to be a new, lonely neighbor. The friends decide to have a nice evening with their new neighbor and share a soup dinner.
Hazel starts to tend to her neighbors’ and friends’ health, being a stand-in doctor for them. As she finishes up helping others, it starts to snow. Believing that she can make it through the storm to home, she makes the trek. As she is starting to feel lonely and lost, a visit from an old friend helps her make it home.
The heart of this story is a simplistic, community-oriented life, filled with little adages for everyday life and living. People of all ages will find this book charming and heart-warming. It’s a perfect gift for the person who loves rustic beauty for this holiday season.
• “Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Forest” by Phoebe Wahl was published by Tundra Books. It retails for $19.99.
• Samwise McGinn works for Inklings Bookshop. He and other Inklings staffers review books in this space every week.