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Wee Winnie Witch's Skinny : an original African American scare tale /

James Lee and Uncle Big Anthony become victims of Wee Winnie Witch, who takes them on a ride up into the sky, but Mama Granny saves them. Full description

Main Author:
Other Authors: Moser, Barry,
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Blue Sky Press, 2004
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In the vein of distinctive African American folktales comes a thrillingly creepy witch tale, with breathtaking colored wood engravings. Told in a southern, African American style, this is the story of two brothers' encounter with a witch who can only be outwitted by their daring grandmother. "[A] wonderful horror story...Moser's framed, colored wood engravings do a great job of bringing the wild, shivery adventure close to home." - Booklist, starred review

Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 3-6. Hamilton, who died in 2002, brought us many unforgettable stories from her research in African American folklore. This original scare tale, which may be her creepiest, is a wonderful horror story that draws on traditional beliefs about witches hanging up their skins and riding people using braided hair as a bridle. Moser's framed, colored wood engravings do a great job of bringing the wild, shivery adventure close to home, their black backgrounds and strong lines lit with garish Halloween images in shades of green and red. The focus is on young James Lee, who sees Uncle Big Anthony taken by the Witch. She comes creeping like a cat, takes off her skin, hangs it on the wall next to Uncle's overalls, and rides him, holding on to his braided hair. One night she takes James Lee along for the ride. Far-seeing Mama Granny comes to the rescue, using a potion to trap the demon. Moser's realistic portrait of Mama Granny, bent over a stick but still solid and strong under the moonlit sky, is as memorable as the garish image of the skinless witch. Even better, Hamilton makes clear that James Lee enjoys the ride as much as he relishes the witch's grisly end; so will the middle-grade readers--especially at Halloween. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Late author Hamilton, who collaborated with Moser on A Ring of Tricksters, concocted this nightmarish tale from elements of folklore. In the bizarre events, pictured in shadowy wood engravings, rural child James Lee sees a Wee Winnie (the name his mother used "to make a witch sound small") stalking his Uncle Big Anthony. Hair-raising illustrations show a cat transforming into a hag, peeling off her "skinny" (skin) and riding through the air on the uncle's back. Meanwhile, a "far-seer" woman applies "spice-hot pepper witch-be-gone potion" to the skinny, which destroys its owner when she attempts to reinhabit her epidermis. The disjointed storytelling contributes to the suspense; the book's malevolent sexual overtones and startling illustrations will haunt readers after the last page is turned. Ages 8-up. (Aug.) Halloween Fiction (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Hamilton has transformed her knowledge of witch beliefs in black folklore into an original tale. Wee Winnie changes from a black cat into her witch shape and hounds Uncle Big Anthony so relentlessly that she reduces him from a big, strapping man into one who is "lean and bent-over tired," an "about-gone, Uncle Shrunken Anthony." And as if that weren't enough, while his horrified nephew James Lee looks on from his bedroom window next door, Wee Winnie Witch takes off her skin and hangs it on a hook. She then grabs hold of Uncle Big Anthony, puts a bridle in his mouth, and rides him through the air, pulling James Lee right out of the window and onto his uncle's back as she flies by. Only Mama Granny's quick thinking saves the day. Hamilton's language is redolent with expressions that suggest African storytelling. Moser's large, colored-wood engravings, bordered in black and white, are strong and textured with horizontal and vertical lines. Illustrations show the hag, her black pointed hat in sharp contrast to an enormous moon, with bulging eyes glowing out of a lumpy body shed of the skin she is holding in her clawlike hand. This tale is admirably suited to Halloween telling, or for any time that shivers are in order.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Virginia Hamilton was born March 12, 1934. She received a scholarship to Antioch College, and then transferred to the Ohio State University in Columbus, where she majored in literature and creative writing. She also studied fiction writing at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Her first children's book, Zeely, was published in 1967 and won the Nancy Bloch Award. During her lifetime, she wrote over 40 books including The People Could Fly, The Planet of Junior Brown, Bluish, Cousins, the Dies Drear Chronicles, Time Pieces, Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl, and Wee Winnie Witch's Skinny. She was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M. C. Higgins, the Great. She has won numerous awards including three Newbery Honors, three Coretta Scott King Awards, an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She was also the first children's author to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1995.

She died from breast cancer on February 19, 2002 at the age of 67.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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