Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Update on 9/17/12: OLD BLACK WITCH is available now! Here: Purple House Press
Update 4/6/12: Reprint publisher, Purple House Press, will be re-issuing this favorite childhood book, Old Black Witch, in the fall!

By the time I was six, I knew from the Brothers Grimm story of Hansel and Gretel that mean witches were bad and would get their just due; but I also knew from Dr. Seuss' Grinch that cruel hearts could change and grow with kindness. On our little black and white television set that sixth year of my life, I had watched the annual showing of THE WIZARD OF OZ and had witnessed Neil Armstrong become the first man to set foot on the moon, making me think pretty much anything was possible.
I can't say for sure, but maybe all those things contributed in making the unlikely book, OLD BLACK WITCH, one of my childhood favorites. Like the mother and son in the story, my family had just moved into an old Victorian fixer-upper, that needed some new paint and tender loving care. Nicky and his mother start a fire in the fireplace after moving in, but as they begin scrubbing and cleaning, who should stumble out onto the hearth from the smoke filled chimney, but an old witch (who is not as scary as she thinks she is!)
She tries to frighten them away, but they are determined to stay - they have put all their money into the house and plan on converting it into a tearoom - the menu is even planned. When the tearoom finally opens, with its red and white checked curtains and Sweet Williams on the tables, the society ladies love it so much that Nicky's mother needs help.  That's when they discover the Old Black Witch can cook! She wins everyone over with her delicious dishes, despite her witchy ways.
Nicky's mother sets Old Black Witch up in an attic bedroom and she loves sharing it with the cobwebs and bats. She only wishes she had a couple of toads to keep her company...
Well, she gets her wish when she saves the tearoom from two robbers ("not all the people who heard about the tearoom were nice quiet ladies") after she zaps them and promptly turns them into - yes - spotted toads.

The story is quite eccentric and the artwork is wonderfully detailed.  At the end of the book is a recipe for Old Black Witch's Bewitching Pancakes.  What kind?

"Boil cauldron,
make a brew,
What kind of berries
make a pancake blue?"

This is one of many obscure books published by Parents' Magazine Press, which operated a children's mail-order book club in the 1960's and '70's. Through this club's affordability and popularity came many books that Baby Boomers (like me) remember fondly. Some titles are so popular, that they've become quite collectible.  CLICK HERE, if you'd like to browse which titles Loganberry Books has available in stock.  (You can also scour your own neighborhood bookstores and libraries, or google the titles to find them on Amazon or Ebay.  I literally wracked my brain for years to remember this book title, and finally came across it this fall!  I guess OLD BLACK WITCH is one of the most requested books! When I looked up the customer comments on Amazon, most everyone had the same wonderful memories as I did and were thrilled to have found this old childhood friend. )


  1. What a wonderful write up about a delightful book! And Loganberry Books in Shaker Hts., Ohio(where my folks live) is one of my favorite book haunts - the place where I have found many long-yearned for obscure titles, both for children and adults. It's well worth a trip to the Cleveland area to visit.

  2. I'll have to remember that if I'm ever in Ohio! (my parents are in Indiana, so who knows...looked so fun on their website!)