Zilpha Keatley Snyder Elizabeth Minot Graves - Essay

Elizabeth Minot Graves

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The Headless Cupid] pokes fun in a discerning way at the current interest in the occult and its beaded young practitioners, at the same time leaving an avenue open to a belief in ghosts and poltergeists. Twelve-year-old Amanda, replete with ceremonial costume and a familiar (a crow who dislikes her as much as she dislikes him), attempts to initiate her new stepbrother, David, and his young sisters and brother, into the rites of witchcraft and seances, with often hilarious results. [This] is more than just a funny book …, it is a serious, sometimes sad story of a child, hurt by the divorce of her parents, who is trying to get even with the world, and of her gradual adjustment to her new family. The characterization and writing are among the best of the season; Mrs Snyder has a fine ear for dialogue and the nuances of family life. (p. 180)

Elizabeth Minot Graves, "Children's Books: The Year of the Witch," in Commonweal (copyright © 1971 Commonweal Publishing co., Inc.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. XCV, No. 8, November 19, 1971, pp. 179-82.

There's some danger that adults will be as spooked by Jessica as she is by Worm's evil eye [in The Witches of Worm], but the cat's bewitchment proves a perfect medium for a sensitive, sympathetic probing of a disturbed child's fears and anger—and for a story that economically, seemingly effortlessly, captures the elusive eeriness of the supernatural.

"Younger Fiction: 'The Witches of Worm'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1972 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XL, No. 14, July 15, 1972, p. 803.