Age Range: Age 3+
We are huge fans of Winnie the Witch and with our thoughts turning to holidays we’ve been reading Winnie Under the Sea and dreaming of days at the beach.
The Story: Winnie and Wilbur fly to an island for their holiday. While Winnie goes swimming Wilbur sits in a tree, he’d like to see the fish but he doesn’t want to go in the water so Winnie changes him into a cat-fish. As Wilbur is having fun as a fish Winnie turns herself into an octopus but disaster strikes when she drops her wand on the seabed. Luckily they find it and Winnie casts a spell to turn them back to normal again. Winnie loves it so much under the sea that when she sees a yellow boat bobbing in front of her she waves her wand and turns it into the perfect underwater vehicle.
A thoroughly modern Winnie searches for the perfect holiday getaway on the Internet then travels on her trusty broomstick to the idyllic island that she has chosen. It’s a beautiful spot for a holiday and the clear blue waters are full of many interesting species of fish. Winnie wants to share her experience with Wilbur and we love his transformation into a cat-fish, his expressions of pure enjoyment show what fun he has. Korky Paul’s fish are very unique. While some, such as the jellyfish and the crab, are easily identifiable there are others that have fantastical physical characteristics, we even found a fish with arms!
The text in Winnie Under the Sea is easy to read and there are lots of amusing details in Korky Paul’s illustrations. My favourite picture shows Wilbur swimming as a cat-fish, I love the octopus in his pirate hat. My daughter is intrigued by the eyes peering out of the windows of the beach house and the portholes on the boat, we want to know who they belong to!
Winnie Under the Sea could be included in class topics on holidays or the seaside. Children could describe the kind of holiday that they think a witch and her cat would enjoy and I love asking children what they think is important to pack in their holiday suitcases, their idea of holiday necessities can often be very amusing! Older children can learn about he whole process of how to look for and book a holiday and use maps to decide where they would like to go and the best way to travel. An enjoyable writing activity is for a child to describe their ideal holiday island, would they also have a washing machine on the beach like Winnie?
The first Winnie the Witch story was published in 1987 and I love the way that the illustrations have evolved to include new technology, e.g. Winnie’s tablet and a beach house with a satellite dish! Winnie Under the Sea also comes with a CD which we haven’t heard although we have really enjoyed the other Winnie audio books that we have listened to.
Have you visited Winnie and Wilbur on their website? Do you have a favourite Winnie the Witch book? We’d love to hear which one in the comments.
Author: Valerie Thomas / Illustrator: Korky Paul