Authors: Ruth Chew
Also by Ruth Chew
WHAT THE WITCH LEFT
MAGIC IN THE PARK
THE TROUBLE WITH MAGIC
THREE WITCH TALES
(AN EBOOK OMNIBUS):
THE WITCH’S BUTTONS
THE WITCH’S GARDEN
THREE WISHING TALES
(AN EBOOK OMNIBUS):
THE MAGIC COIN
THE MAGIC CAVE
THE WISHING TREE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 1971 by Ruth Chew
Jacket art copyright © 2013 by David Hohn
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Originally published in the United States in hardcover
by Dodd, Mead & Company, New York,
and in paperback by Scholastic, Inc., New York, in 1971.
Random House and the colophon are registered trademarks
and A Stepping Stone Book and the colophon are trademarks
of Random House, Inc.
Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
No such thing as a witch / Ruth Chew.
pages cm. — (A stepping stone book)
Originally published in the United States by Scholastic, Inc., New York, in 1971.
Summary: When Nora and Tad observe a squirrel reading a little newspaper and
their dog behaving strangely, they decide their new neighbor is a witch.
[1. Witches—Fiction. 2. Animals—Fiction. 3. Human-animal life—Fiction.
4. Brothers and sisters—Fiction. 5. Family life—Fiction. 6. Humorous stories.]
I. Title. PZ7.C429No 2013 [Fic]—dc23 2013004948
First Random House Edition
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment
and celebrates the right to read.
To Maggie Baran
who makes the best fudge in the world
“Nora, look! The squirrel is reading a little newspaper!” Tad Cooper pressed his nose against the kitchen window. The gray squirrel on the fence outside held the folded square of paper close to his face.
“Don’t be silly, Tad.” Nora reached into the refrigerator for the milk. “You’d better eat your breakfast or you’ll be late for school.”
“But, Nora, he
reading a newspaper.”
Nora put the milk on the table and went to the window. The squirrel was still sitting on the picket fence holding the paper in front of him. He raised his head and looked over the paper at the two children.
Then he dropped the paper to the ground and scampered along the fence to the telephone pole. He climbed the pole and did a tightrope walk along the wire to the roof of the candy store on the corner.
Tad went out the kitchen door. He picked up the paper that the squirrel had dropped. Nora followed her brother into the yard.
“Let me see it.” Nora reached for the paper.
Tad handed it to her. “It’s a card with somebody’s name on it,” he said.
The card was folded in half like a book or a little newspaper. Nora opened it and read:
Just then both children heard a funny cackle. Someone was laughing. Tad looked up at the upstairs window of the house next door. A woman with a round face and curly gray hair was leaning out. “Did you see the squirrel? Isn’t he delightful?”
“What was he doing?” asked Tad.
“Reading a newspaper,” said the woman. Then she laughed again. “That’s my card. I put peanut butter on it for the squirrel.”
“Are you Maggie Brown?” asked Tad.
“Yes. I know who you are. You’re Tad. And that’s Nora. Why don’t you come to see me?”
Mrs. Cooper opened the kitchen door. “Hurry, children, you’ll be late for school.”
Nora looked up at the woman in the window. The woman smiled and waved.
Nora waved back and went into the house.
“Who were you waving to?” asked her mother.
“Maggie Brown,” said Nora.
“Nora, you mustn’t call grown people by their first names. Is that the lady who just moved into the upstairs apartment next door?”
“She must be,” said Nora. “She seems to live there. She’s a witch.”
Mrs. Cooper was busy loading the dishwasher. “There’s no such thing as a witch, Nora, and I don’t want you to be a nuisance to the neighbors.”
“I think Nora’s right,” said Tad. “Maggie is a witch.”
“Finish your breakfast, Tad,” said Mrs. Cooper.
When Nora came home from school, her mother met her at the door. “Nora,” said Mrs. Cooper, “there’s something the matter with Skipper. He won’t come in out of the yard. And he’s barking so much I’m afraid the neighbors will call the police.”
“I’ll get him in, Mother.” Nora put down her books and went out into the backyard. The fuzzy little brown dog was sitting in the middle of the patch of grass and staring up at Maggie Brown’s window. When Skipper saw Nora he wagged his tail, but when Nora went over to him he backed up. He kept just out of Nora’s reach. His mouth was open, and his tongue was hanging out. He looked as if he were laughing at Nora.
Now Tad came out of the house. He tried to catch Skipper, but the dog managed to dodge him too.
“Hee, hee, hee!” There was that cackle again. Nora looked up to see Maggie Brown at her window.
Maggie put her hand over her mouth as if to stop herself from laughing. Then she called down, “Skip, stop that teasing and go in the house.”
Skipper stopped dodging at once and trotted to the back door.
“How did you make him do that, Maggie?” asked Tad.
Maggie Brown smiled. “It’s a trick,” she said. “I have lots of them. When are you going to come to see me?”
“Can I come now?” asked Tad.
“Sure. Come on.” Maggie stepped back and closed the window.
Nora turned to Tad. “Can’t you see she’s trying to lure you into her house? You don’t know what she’ll do to you in there. Don’t go, Tad.”
“I want to go,” Tad said. “It’s an adventure. I’m not afraid, even if you are.”
Nora sat down to do her homework, but she kept thinking about Tad.
At supper time Tad had not come home. “Where is Tad?” asked Mrs. Cooper.
“Next door with Maggie Brown,” Nora said.
. Brown is what you call her,” said Nora’s mother. “Please, Nora, go next door and tell Tad to come home.”
Nora wanted very much to go to see Maggie Brown, but at the same time she was afraid of what might happen to her in the witch’s house. There was no use telling her mother about it. Her mother didn’t believe in witches. Maybe if Nora
had a good luck charm it would keep her safe. She remembered the old horseshoe her father used as a paperweight on his desk. She went to get it.
Nora climbed the stoop of the brown-stone house next door. Like many houses in Brooklyn, it looked just like all the others on the block. But instead of one doorbell like Nora’s house, it had two. Nora pressed the upstairs bell.
While she waited, Nora stroked the horseshoe. Nobody answered the bell. Nora pressed it again.