Flashback Friday: “Lulu Goes to Witch School”

Jailene Adorno ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Jane O’Connor’s 1987 classic Lulu Goes to Witch School is an endearing story about a little witch’s first day of school. O’Connor does an excellent job of showing what could happen on a child’s first day of school while also adding the element of the supernatural with witches and broom flying. The book was originally intended to teach children how to read, but it’s safe to say that it does a lot more than that.

In Lulu Goes to Witch School, readers get to see her during her first day of school when she’s feeling nervous, up until the moment that she starts to get the hang of things and becomes more comfortable. The first day of school can be scary for people of all ages, but O’Connor does a really good job of showing what children might be feeling during their first day. Readers get a taste of the anxiety and uncertainty that Lulu Witch feels.

“Lulu Goes to Witch School” Cover. Source: HarperCollins

First readers see Lulu at home trying to eat her breakfast and wishing that she could stay home with her mother. Soon after, audiences understand that her nerves are really starting to get to her as she walks to school quickly. Readers get a good laugh through the narrations which introduce them to Lulu’s teacher Miss Slime (another fellow witch) who has “a long nose and a wart on her chin.” Upon looking at Miss Slime, Lulu thinks of her as “very pretty.” This may seem silly to many readers, but it’s also meant to make children burst into a fit of giggles and that’s exactly what it does.

Once Lulu Witch is all settled in her classroom, she starts to feel more relaxed. She even learns how to fly her first broom. But then she meets another little witch named Sandy who seems to do everything perfectly. Throughout the rest of the story, we see Lulu comparing herself to Sandy. Then one day, Lulu Witch is kept home from school because she has “lizard pox,” but when she returns the next day, she decides that she won’t let Sandy get under her skin anymore. However, once she gets to school, she notices that Sandy has the pox and she decides to be extra friendly toward her. In the end, their attitudes toward each other changes and they become friends.

This is a great book to teach children how to read. O’Connor makes the reading even more enjoyable with the humor that she adds to the story. In addition to that, the lessons that are learned throughout the story are also important. For starters, it’s okay to be nervous when you’re going somewhere new or trying something for the first time. Secondly, try not to compare yourself to others. Lastly, just be nice to others.

This HarperCollins children’s book originally featured pictures by Emily Arnold McCully. However, in 2013 the publishers gave Lulu Goes to Witch School a new look with illustrations by Bella Sinclair. The illustrations may be different, but the story remains the same classic that it always was.

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