Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Molly Knox Ostertag
Illustrator: Molly Know Ostertag
Aster was born into a life of magic. His mother and older sister are witches, and his father is a shapeshifter. It has always been this way: male shapeshifters and female witches. Aster, who struggles with shapeshifting, is drawn to words of power, the incantations and spells that the women use. He tries to learn these things but is caught, disciplined, teased, and treated worse by his family members. When Aster's male cousins go missing, Aster finds he’s the only one who can scry to find the missing boys. He wants to help and protect his family, but to do so goes against everything his family teaches. His non-magical human friend Charlie helps him to see what he wants to do and can do. With her help, Aster faces his fear of his family as well as the monster cursing them. He solves an old family mystery while helping others understand that witchery is a matter of the magic inside, not gender.
The Witch Boy is a well-balanced graphic novel with a message of understanding, acceptance, and love. The illustrations are rich with full color and on thick, sturdy paper. It is a hardback book with an expressive cover page/cover sleeve and strong binding. The plot and characters are developed well, not relying on the graphic illustrations to tell the story but rather enhance it. The dialogue is more natural and flowing than many graphic novels, leading to reader enjoyment and clear changes in scenes and events. The creativity that Ostertag uses in her characters is enjoyable and she went to great lengths to differentiate and diversify her characters. Ostertag does a wonderful job of trying to illustrate a magical family of with culture and inclusion while still keeping the focus on the plot and acceptance of change and fluidity in magical growth.
*Contains mild violence.