Honestly, I didn’t like Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo and illustrated by MacKenzie Haley. And I know a part of me went into reading this book with the understanding that I was going to have a difficult time with the topic since I personally believe that “snitching” is something that adults and children go overboard with. And while I wish I could say that this book really does help clarify the situation of snitching for children, it runs into some issues that I feel make it confusing and problematic.
The basic premise of this story is that the main character is a snitch and she snitches for attention. As a teacher, I have definitely been in a situation of having a student who tells on other children largely for attention. But here’s the thing; some of the examples used for the times when the main character shouldn’t be snitching are frankly just unacceptable to me. I’m sorry, but if a kid is stealing, that is not a situation where the child who has told on the one thieving is in the wrong. And it’s presented that way in the book. Instead of having the “snitch” tell on the other kids when they’re doing things that upset her but aren’t necessarily bad, the snitch is actually reporting on unacceptable behavior in several circumstances.
Are we really trying to push the idea that children shouldn’t go to an adult when other children are misbehaving?
Add in the fact that, flustered with having been tattled on so much, the other kids cast a magical spell to make it so that the main character can’t speak to adults unless it risks someone’s safety, and I was just thoroughly annoyed with the book as I neared the end. In its own way, this book is also suggesting that bullying is an appropriate reaction to deal with a peer who is informing adults about your bad behavior. And I find that problematic as well.
I understand where the author was coming from with this book and the message he was trying to send, but I genuinely feel as though he completely missed the mark. It is not “tattling” or “snitching” to inform an adult when other children are misbehaving. Is it annoying? Sure. Is it likely to upset the kid that you told on them and they got in trouble? Sure. Can it cause problems with friendships? Definitely. Is it right to suggest that bad behavior shouldn’t be reported? I don’t think so.
Now, if the examples had been more along the lines of “such and such picked their nose” or “such and such didn’t pick up after themselves” or “such and such wouldn’t share their favorite toy,” then that would make more sense as far as snitching goes. But when someone steals? Touches breakable items that they’re not supposed to? Taking extra sweets? These are things that are perfectly reasonable to go to an adult for. And while I fully understand that some children’s motives behind going to adults for certain things aren’t exactly great, but it’s ridiculous to also suggest that they shouldn’t go to adults just because it will upset their friends.
What kind of behavior is that supporting for children? As they grow older, what things will they suddenly let slide with their friends? Shoplifting? One of the characters in the story stole potion ingredients that weren’t hers and it was implied that to inform an adult of this would be snitching. And I just…the intent was good, but the message it actually sends is not one that I would support. I do genuinely feel as though the examples need to be re-examined.
One thing I did love, however, was the artwork. Snitchy Witch was incredibly fun and well-drawn. I enjoyed how the characters were portrayed for the most part and the backgrounds of the witch camp was really cool. Aside from the artwork, though, I didn’t really care for the book. I did appreciate the bit at the end for parents that offers a bit more information on “snitching,” but I certainly would look elsewhere if I wanted to teach my child the difference between tattling for bad reasons and informing adults when something is wrong.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.