The Witch Boy

The Witch Boy

Graphic Novel - 2017
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"In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted... and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family... and be truly himself.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. :, Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781338089523
1338089528
Branch Call Number: GN J OSTE
Characteristics: 210 pages : chiefly color illustrations ; 23 cm

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skyekilaen
Feb 28, 2018

Fairly straightforward but heartfelt tale about the toxicity of rigid gender roles, with lovely art because Molly Knox Ostertag is amazing. It's the story of Aster, a boy growing up in a society where women do magic and men shapeshift, and that's that. Except it isn't, because Aster does magic and doesn't shapeshift. What I particularly appreciated: (a) Aster's confidence-building friendship with a girl outside his community who also doesn't follow gender norms, (b) The diversity of skin color among the magical community, and (c) the magic system, because I would love to talk to a tree with a cool-looking symbol and have it give me an apple. The resolution with Aster's parents was bittersweet but realistic given that they're fundamentally good people but severely blindered by their culture. Hopefully every library in the entire country has this on the shelves, it's both entertaining and sorely needed.

m
MelissaBee
Feb 02, 2018

"Witch Boy is a brightly illustrated graphic novel that may appeal to tweens or teens who are taking up the task of defining themselves on their own terms.

There is a bit of a 'Harry Potter' or 'Percy Jackson' vibe to the story as the main character, Aster, is a tween boy living in an extended family of female witches and male shapeshifters, where the children are training to take up their own supernatural powers, in accordance with their gender. The story also has the feel of "The Whale Rider" as Aster is a boy drawn to practicing the 'womanly' art of magic and who feels no connection to the shapeshifting powers of the men in his community. He keenly feels the anxiety of his parents and the community as they try to steer him to his expected role but the draw of magic is strong.

When his family is threatened by dark powers, Aster must make some difficult decisions on his own. Where will his power come from in facing down a terrible foe?

Recommended for middle schools who like stories involving the supernatural.

EKGO Jan 24, 2018

Fans of Nimona, Princeless, and Lumberjanes as well as readers who love Raina Telgemeir and/or Faith Erin Hicks are in for a treat with The Witch Boy!

The illustrations are lovely, the characters solid and delightful both in ink and deed. It's a simple story - Aster is a boy so he is destined to be a shapeshifter but he has the woman's power of witchcraft running through his veins and he wants to understand more about what he can do instead of trying to force himself to learn what he can't. His family isn't supportive of this idea so he finds a friend outside his circle of magical relations, one who has faced a similar struggle and shows him how to be true to himself.

Couched in this story are messages about the power of friendship, the importance of knowing and being true to oneself, and society's expectations of genders.

It's a charming and wonderfully-drawn story.

forbesrachel Nov 28, 2017

In Aster’s family, boys are to learn the power of shapeshifting, while girls are to develop their skills in witchcraft. This is how it has always been, and it is how they think it is meant to be. The young Aster though, feels in his heart that shapeshifting isn’t meant for him, and he already knows that he is fairly adept at the teachings of the witches. From the bits and pieces of secret knowledge he gleans, he is able to do very helpful things. Aster lacks the confidence to defy his family outright though, and he is aware that there are consequences to dabbling in such things. It is only when the other boys in his family start to go missing, along with the encouragement of a sports loving girl, that he finds the courage to answer the call. Ostertag has created a genuinely thoughtful and accessible graphic novel for the middle grade reader with characters that break gender norms. Their story should prove encouraging to children questioning their own identities; that the things they are “allowed” to love isn’t defined by their gender, and that as long as they are true to themselves, others will also accept them for who they are. Ostertag’s artwork will equally appeal to this age group. Those looking for an art style similar to Faith Erin Hicks or Raina Telgemeier, should be directed to this creator. Ostertag’s pacing and use of colour are especially good. The Witch Boy is an outstanding graphic novel with broad appeal, it has enough threads left open at the end to hint at a possible sequel, and it is sure to help a child or two feel good about their identity.

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blue_zebu_115
Apr 02, 2018

blue_zebu_115 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

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violet_penguin_924
Mar 26, 2018

violet_penguin_924 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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MelissaBee
Feb 02, 2018

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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