Two Friendly Witches Books 1-10 By Michael De Leo

Two Friendly Witches Stories 1-10 is a collection of short stories written by Michael De Leo, a grandfather who is sharing his stories he told his children growing up.  The two witches are Alicia and Phobe who have a police officer and two boys as their closest friends.  The stories in this book are for children in first or second to fourth or fifth grade, depending on reading level, and discuss a range of events that often teach the reader lessons.  This is a good first reader for children.  Some of the stories discuss how the witches stop two notorious bank robbers, how the witches learn to ride a bike, and how to polite and have manners.

The characters that De Leo has created are very colorful and full of personality.  Phobe has a tendency to exaggerate and dramatize everything while her friend Alicia is very thoughtful and clever.  They are very funny to read about.  The stories often tell lessons for the readers which is great especially for the age range that would be reading this as it is done through fiction and in a way that makes the reader appreciate what is being taught.  Grandpa often talks to the reader to help them feel smart about the questions he is asking them which draws them further into the story and will make them feel smart and proud of themselves.  There is lots of description and plenty of dialogue which enriches the story.

There is one major drawback for me with the stories contained in this volume and that is that I felt like I was reading the same story on about half the stories.  It seems that everyone is constantly hitting their heads on something and having to go to the hospital or they are unconscious and often have amnesia.  The story that it bothered me the most in was “The Holiday” which was such a missed opportunity.  Instead of actually talking about the holiday and all the sights the friends planned to see the entire story focuses on people hitting their heads and being carted off to the hospital again.  I hope to see more stories from this author but hopefully he will ax the head hitting hospital adventures.  I also thought it was inappropriate when the author used words as “fatty” for one of the bank robbers to call Phobe.  Kids bully each other enough.  I liked Toughy’s story a lot more!

Overall this was a nice collection of books with two very memorable characters that I believe children will love.  The stories are great for beginning readers and the lessons in the stories model great examples to help children learn.  I can easily see reading this for a story time…I used to be a teacher…and having plenty of discussion and activities for the class.  I also think that it is to be commended that a grandpa is writing these stories down to share with others but to also give his family some treasures to pass down through the generations.

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