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 1 review

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 2 reviews

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. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byAsa S. January 6, 2018

Fast read,amazing!

I am eight years old, an above average reader.I think she made great illustrations!people look great. really pop out!! great explanations and super understanda... 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
Teen, 13 years old Written byBartholomew_Bobbithy August 21, 2019

What the freak

Ok so first of all it’s like 2:45 am right now and I started reading this at 2:10 am and I legit finished it at like 2:40. It’s so short it took me like 30 minu... Continue reading

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

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