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Reviewed by Leiann Lynn Rose Spontaneo for Readers' Favorite
Nito and the Witch, by Jennie G. Wittenbach, begins with 5-year-old Nito wanting to work in the vegetable fields with his mother, while his father works in a carpentry shop to help pay for Nito’s brother’s and sister’s schooling to learn a new language, as the family is from Mexico. Nito has to stay with a strange sort of woman who helps and cooks for the priests. Her name is Dona Adelita. When Nito met her at Mission Espada, he wondered if she was a witch. He did not want his mother to leave him. Nito told his mother that Dona Adelita scared him. Nito’s mother told him not to be silly, that Dona Adelita was respected and known to heal people. Nito still wasn't sure. However, one day when danger struck, Nito woke up to find Dona Adelita healing his wound. He thanked and hugged her. From then on, he could be found following the woman whom he once thought was a witch, but now was a friend.
The author, Jennie G. Wittenbach, describes how easy it is to judge by appearances. The book also teaches young readers a history lesson. They did not have grocery stores at that time. They did not have washing machines or convenient appliances. If one moves to a different country, one may need to learn a new language. A teacher and/or parent can use this story to explain history. The artwork by Danielle Mathews complemented the story beautifully. For example, Nito clinging to his mother, such as a child would on their first day of preschool, or his thoughts on Dona Adelita, a poor woman with features he is not accustomed to. I think this book is unique and really stands out.