Margaret Mahy is a taonga, a treasure, a wonderful writer of the most fabulous books for the very young, and the young, and the growing-a-bit-older-but-still-young.
Margaret Mahy says her stories are meant to be heard, and I can hear this one – the matter of fact mother, the imaginative, slight scared but slightly brave boy, the witch who is doing her best to be angry and frightening but really just wants a cake. She tries many tricks to get David, the boy, to give her a cake, and eventually, she succeeds, not by trickery, but due to the kindness of a small boy.
I love the way that this story represents a child’s imagination. It all really could have happened, or was it just a boy weaving dreams around cakes and storms and birds on the back lawn. I also love the tone of the mother’s voice, accepting her child’s imagination, and working with it.
The book ends with a recipe for Gingerbread Witches. We have tried it. It works.