The Witch Boy

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Witch Boy Book Poster Image
Sensitive fantasy graphic novel explores gender roles.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Although it's set in a world of magic, The Witch Boy raises questions about gender, nonconformity, and independence.

Positive Messages

It's OK to be different. Boys and girls should be able to engage in work and play together without judgment.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fascinated by "women's magic," Aster feels disconnected from his male peers. He finds the courage to be himself and therefore help others.

Violence & Scariness

Aster is pushed around by bullies. He later fights magical monsters.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Witch Boy is a fantasy graphic novel that explores issues of diversity and identity. Compelling but not scary, the book follows a boy as he experiments with "women's magic." Aster endures some bullying, but it is more psychological than physical. And there's no mature content to worry about. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 8-year-old Written byJennyms September 1, 2020

Thought-provoking, may raise questions

My 8 year old boy (a traditional "boy" in most areas, I think the term is "cis"?) devoured this book when it came from the library and asked... Continue reading
Adult Written byAbbyLibrarian October 30, 2020

Fantasy story without sexuality

My 7 year-old is a strong reader and it can be hard to find things that are challenging reading that are age appropriate. The Witch Boy seems to meet that need.... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old October 9, 2019


I really like this book! There is one scene of a dead deer but the book is not gory or violent at all! Once you start reading this book you can not stop!1

What's the story?

At the start of THE WITCH BOY, Aster is frustrated that he can't shape-shift like the rest of the boys in his family. He's more interested, however, in practicing the magic that girls are allowed to do and he's expressly forbidden from doing. But when his peers start mysteriously disappearing, Aster doesn't know whether he should use magic to find them, having been warned that it could lead to disaster. With the help of a new friend from the non-magical side of town, he must learn to be true to himself if he wants to help others.

Is it any good?

Although it's sometimes a little too obvious in its intentions, this middle grade graphic novel promotes the idea that boys should be allowed to explore the things that interest girls and vice versa. Aster is a sensitive and compassionate protagonist, and author-illustrator Molly Ostertag gives him enough edges to make him interesting. With lively and accessible art, she choreographs a compelling confrontation between Aster and the mysterious villain and devises a satisfying resolution, leaving the door open to further adventures. No matter what happens next, The Witch Boy is an engaging middle grade graphic novel, one likely to appeal to a wide range of readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Witch Boy explores gender roles. Why is it assumed that some activities are for girls only or for boys only?

  • Why are comics and graphic novels so popular? What kinds of effects can they achieve that are not possible in prose alone?

  • How are traditions passed down from generation to generation? Do people always know how and why traditions start?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and magical tales

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate