The Witch Boy

The Witch Boy

Book - 2017 | First edition
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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: 9781338089516
133808951X
Call Number: jgn OSTERTAG 2017
Characteristics: 210 pages : color illustrations ; 23 cm

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From Library Staff

(Gr 4-7) Aster is at the age when he should start to get his shape-shifting powers, like the other boys his age. But Aster is more interested in learning witchcraft. Problem is, witchcraft is for girls. Can he learn to be himself and not get exiled?

In 13-year-old Aster's family, 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 fascinated by witchery. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he ... Read More »

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... Read More »

What's a boy to do when he'd rather learn spells and practice magic than become a shapeshifter?

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, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills.


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OtteryStCatchpole
Mar 26, 2021

This book is a solid 3.5. I am reading this series out of order, accidentally. Try giant volume numbers on the cover or spine Scholastic, JUST SAYIN'. I have to say, Molly Ostertag has a keen eye when it comes to writing interesting characters. She understands the obvious divide between adults & adolescents that is so central to the main story. Parents simply don't understand their children, their desires & needs as often as they'd like. Children are equally cursed not to understand their parents worry born of tremendous love, & their inability sometimes to see that their children are growing, that they can handle more than they let them. Things readily apparent to other adults, but not necessarily parents about their own offspring.
The story is about Aster, a boy who wants to be a witch, in a clan that separates magic by gender. Boys are shapeshifters, girls are witches & never does the magic ever mix or change. Witches' secrets are closely guarded so Aster has to learn surreptitiously, all the while wondering, now that he's an adolescent why the devil he can't find an animal spirit to teach him to shapeshift. An obvious metaphor for bigoted society, & gender norms. All that politicking aside, it is a very good story, & most realistic about it is the fact that by the end, Aster's mother is not simply alright with his wishes to become a witch & neither are her feelings all happily changed to loving whatever he is & does. Holly struggles in the story (in the series really) to understand what she believes is her son's choice. Something he knows is nothing he chose, but simply who he is. It isn't surprising adolescence is the period when most kids start to discover their sexuality, their gender, begin to question the things that society simply takes for granted, as it is a child's time of self discovery. Nor is it any more surprising parents find it hard to understand their adolescents, as they change & grow away from being needy, & from believing everything their parents tell them. The time honored age divide & cultural shifts come into play, & their reflected brilliantly if subtly in the battle of wills between Aster & the women in his family.
Aster finds comfort outside of his family circle, the way many lgbtq+ individuals do, as its easier to have someone see him for who he is who isn't burdened with all the old ideas, & prejudices of family history, & their traditions. With Charlie's help he finds the courage to become who he is & to fight the story's monster, himself a victim of similar prejudices.
You get a very entertaining story, which is brilliant if that's all your looking for. A story reflecting modern youth's struggles to come to terms with their own identity, freedoms, and future which are the age old struggles between the old & the young, parents & children. As well as an action adventure young adult graphic novel, with excitement & interesting loveable characters. Storywise nothing is lacking here.
The reason I didn't give the book a perfect 4 (5's are reserved for life altering masterpieces), is because the art is a little rough. Perhaps I wouldn't have been so critical of it, had I not read book 3 & seen how much better Ostertag's art becomes. But having her future art to compare it to, & also those beautiful pieces of development art in the back, it is easy to see the artist/writer kind of rushed things at times. Doubtlessly in service to a deadline. The book lacks the polish of other collected editions of webcomics were artists aren't so rushed to crank out 200+ pages of a whole book in a few months. Does the story suffer for it? No. The art is still solid but given the cover, & the pieces in the back of the book you can tell the art could have been better. I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes breathing. It's a good series, an ageless story with a more modern twist, full of enjoyable characters you get to know in the further books with good art that only only gets bet

JCLHilaryS Nov 10, 2020

This is a touching coming of age story that just happens to be about witches (and gender roles). Aster knows his true identity as a witch, but his family is uncomfortable with that. The kind of magic Aster wants to learn is secret and reserved only for women in the family. He is under immense pressure to be like the other boys and learn shapeshifting. When a terrible spirit slips into their homes and begins to take the other boys, it is Aster and Aster alone who can help them. Family secrets are unveiled and the family learns to accept Aster for who he is.

c
coraltwilight
Oct 26, 2020

This isn't as good as Molly's other books. The Midwinter Witch and the Hidden Witch are the best in the witch series.

FPL_Kayla Sep 02, 2020

I really enjoyed this graphic novel! I think what struck me most was the author's ability to use the situation of "magical identity" as an allegory. The feeling of not being allowed to express your true self certainly transcends the world of magic in this book and relates deeply with our own world today. This message was apparent throughout the story, but I never felt that the text became preachy or overt. I would recommend this graphic novel for 4th-7th graders.

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itsabear
Aug 20, 2020

I'm reading this with my 5 year old (after pre reading) and she's so into it. This is our first graphic novel so I'm adding a good amount of explaining and some words changed here and there, but we're both really enjoying it. There are other books in the series, but it's great as a stand alone too!

t
teanahk
Jul 29, 2020

You should read this it's a very good graphic novel. The pictures looked good and the story was good.

~~ Reviewed by my kid

JCLCharlesH Jul 28, 2020

This gorgeous graphic novel by Molly Ostertag captures elements of magic, adventure, coming of age, gender identity, friendship, and family. This is done while still creating an engaging story that I didn't want to put down. It was recommended for fans of Harry Potter by the Reading Glasses podcast, and I would agree with their assessment.

In Aster's world, girls learn witchcraft and boys learn shapshifting. But all Aster wants is to learn witchcraft--and he has a knack for it. When boys start disappearing, Aster is the only one with the skills to find them.

Not only was the art beautiful in this book, but it is ultimately a book about learning to be yourself. And accepting yourself. Now I want to read more from Osterang because I loved this one so much!

a
ArtistBettyAnne
Dec 18, 2019

The Witch Boy is an unapologetically forward story about embracing your differences regardless of the cultural norms others are impressing on you. My only quibble is that the story was SO straightforward, the reveal of the "mystery" antagonist was not particularly surprising. Also, while the story wrapped up nicely, it was also extremely fast-paced, which left it feeling more like a short story than a longer tale. This is a story that could have easily been fleshed out into a longer series with more character development. It's still worth reading and is a fantastic story.

t
The_Zookeeper
Nov 16, 2019

I hope there is a second one coming, because this was a wonderful graphic novel.

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STPLKidsCauseway Feb 09, 2021

STPLKidsCauseway thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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ArtistBettyAnne
Dec 18, 2019

ArtistBettyAnne thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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indigo_heron_21
Dec 09, 2018

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Kyanite
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Feb 02, 2018

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ArtistBettyAnne
Dec 18, 2019

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Some of the scenes of conflict with the antagonist become a little intense for younger audiences.

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