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Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizards Secret

Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard's Secret

Published: 4 Mar 2021

Paperback / softback, 192 pages

Recommended for age 7+

By Claire Barker

Illustrated by Teemu Juhani

Published by Faber & Faber

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This book features in the Lower KS2 Magical Mansion collection which is part of The Reading Journey

DR FIRENZE SHARPTOOTHcordially invitesST IMACULATE'S SCHOOL FOR THE GIFTEDto Draconis Hallfor the Great Fossil HuntJack is very excited when he learns that this year's school trip is a visit to the seaside to hunt for fossils.

Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard's Secret
Picklewitch & Jack and the Cuckoo Cousin
Picklewitch and Jack

The Reading Journey Full Set LKS2 2021 pack

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Reviewed by Sam Keeley

Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard’s Secret is the third book in an award-winning series by Claire Barker and illustrated by Teemu Juhani. Jack is a very sensible boy who happens to be best friends with a witch! Of course, this pairing makes for interesting adventures. When Jack discovers that this year’s school trip is a visit to hunt fossils (or fizzles according to Picklewitch) at the seaside (Jurassic Coast) and potentially win a prize for finding the best one, he can’t wait to set off. Playful Picklewitch needs a bit more persuasion but before long she agrees and the fun really begins.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Picklewitch is such a larger-than-life and enjoyable character to read and really reminded me of the recent Worzel Gummidge, portrayed by Mackenzie Crook. She has the same charming propensity for misunderstanding and her invented phrases are hilarious.  ‘Cross my heart and hope to fly’ and the ‘kipper’s knickers’ are just two of many. Teemu Juhani’s illustrations capture the personalities of the characters. The first meeting of the Sea Wizard, the aptly named Scowling Margaret,  on page 70 would be one that would benefit from close scrutiny. The quality of the language used is something that really elevates this book making it a text worth spending time on and revisiting. Although there is a light-hearted feel to the book, there are serious underlying themes about protecting treasures from glory hunters and the value of friendship and teamwork.

This story would make a great read-aloud and I’d particularly recommend it for Lower Junior aged children. If you are studying rocks and soils in Year 3, then this is a light-hearted read which would make a great accompaniment to learning in science. It is the third in the series but does stand alone. Upon hearing it, I would expect children to be keen to read more adventures with Picklewitch and Jack so it’s a great way to hook them into a new series. The greatest compliment I can pay Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard’s Secret is that it made me want to rush and find a willing class of seven and eight-year-olds to read it to. 

Sam is Director of Learning Programmes at Just Imagine.