“Women and men have different types of magic,” says 11-year-old Aster’s mother early on in Molly Knox Ostertag’s The Witch Boy, a graphic novel that mixes fantasy, family and identity. Everyone in Aster’s family is born with magic: the boys grow up to be shapeshifters, and the girls grow up to be witches. But shapeshifting doesn’t come easy to Aster. In fact, he finds himself drawn to the girls’ witchery sessions, taking notes and learning a type of magic forbidden to boys like him. He is an outcast, who constantly feels like he does not belong, unable to be his true self. As such, his only friend is Charlie, a black girl from the non-magical side of town, who is accepting of Aster’s propensity for witchcraft, and might be his only ally when a dark force starts abducting the boys.
The Witch Boy is a delight. Ostertag’s is an unabashed parable for gender conformity, pitched at young readers aged 8-12. But the importance of its message aside, it’s just a darn fun fantasy romp, packed with likeable, diverse characters, and illustrated buoyantly and colourfully. Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels will love this.
Publish Date: 31-Oct-2017
Country of Publication: United States