Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 463
Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth is written in the first person, with Elizabeth serving as the narrator. Two children, Jennifer and Elizabeth, participate in ongoing imaginative play about being witches. The story does not focus on witchcraft or any of the darker elements that are sometimes associated...
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- Critical Essays
Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth is written in the first person, with Elizabeth serving as the narrator. Two children, Jennifer and Elizabeth, participate in ongoing imaginative play about being witches. The story does not focus on witchcraft or any of the darker elements that are sometimes associated with stories about witches. Instead, the focus is on the growing friendship between two girls.
Elizabeth first meets Jennifer as she is walking alone to school one day. Jennifer hops out of a tree and asks about the cookies in Elizabeth’s lunch bag. After discussing how she knows that there are cookies in the bag (witches know everything), Jennifer, who is a self-declared witch, permits Elizabeth to become her apprentice. From then on, each trip to and from school becomes an adventure for Elizabeth because she may have contact with Jennifer. At least once or twice a week, Jennifer leaves notes for Elizabeth tacked to the tree where they first met. These notes arrange Saturday meeting times, mostly at the library, for the two of them to learn more about becoming witches. Jennifer, however, has some of her own rules for her apprentice witch, such as eating nothing but hot dogs one week and then the next week eating at least one onion a day. As the relationship between the two girls grows and changes, Elizabeth becomes more self-confident, and eventually the two are able to have an equal friendship as partners.
The book consists of ten short chapters, each written in a humorous and easy-to-read manner. The viewpoint of the narrator, Elizabeth, is that of a participant rather than an observer. Therefore, the reader is intimately involved in the story instead of being an spectator. Author E. L. Konigsburg provides a credible story in which the reader is able to understand why Elizabeth and Jennifer act and react as they do. Although the illustrations are limited to a small number of black-and-white sketches, the written descriptions provide detailed images for the reader, mostly through the dialogue of the characters and the personal thoughts of the narrator. The resolution to the story is not contrived; it comes about because of a series of carefully developed, realistic, and logical situations.
The book has a whimsical feel to it that invites constant speculation about what will happen next. Jennifer is unusual and carefree enough to leave one wondering if she does have some sort of magical powers: Perhaps she really is a witch. Yet, in examining her closely, the reader will be able to determine logically how Jennifer knows what she knows and why she acts as she does. Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth is an entertaining book that will remain in the mind of the reader for a long time.