The Witch’s Garden

Written and illustrated by Ruth Chew.
First published in 1978 by Scholastic Book Services.

Reading Level

Grades 3-5.


"Run, dearies! It's a dragon!" the witch said.

Reviewed in

School Library Journal; Sep79, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p132, 1/9p


Susan and Josh discover some surprising things about the garden next door and the little old woman who owns it.

My Summary

Cousins Susan and Josh use a clothesline to go into the abandoned yard next-door to get sticks to burn to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. They see a lot of plants and take leaves from one that smells like mint chewing gum. The campfire ruins Susan's dad's flagstone and Susan's mom's fork, but rubbing the mint leaves on the damage seems to fix it. The mint even reconstructs a burned newspaper! The children take a cake to the new neighbor, Mrs. Muldon, who lets them eat most of it and says the garden was planted by her aunt. They return at night to get the forgotten clothesline, and discover that the petals of a sunflower can be ridden like hoverboards. Before they return home, they see Mrs. Muldoon in the kitchen brewing something in a big cauldron. The next day they help her in her garden. They accidentally get shrunk by her plant brew. They eat as much cake as they can but almost get eaten by Patchwork on the way to the raspberry bush. They fall into the mint leaves and return to normal size, all without Mrs. Muldoon noticing. When they dig up a stubborn bush surrounded by rocks, a tunnel is revealed. The children and Mrs. Muldoon explore it and find what seems to be a dragon in a very hot room behind a locked door. The children run away, but return with a candle and the watering can full of brew. They splash the dragon with the brew, shrinking it to a salamander and rescuing Mrs. Muldoon.

Main Characters

Susan/Sue/Susie and Josh (cousins), Mrs. Muldoon (a witch who lives next door)

Other Characters

Bill and Mary Allen (Susan's parents), Patchwork (a cat), Aunt Martha (Mrs. Muldoon's aunt), Herbert the bat

Places Mentioned

Kerrigan house


magic, witch, garden, leaves, mint, catnip, cat, flying, shrinking, plants, planting, gardening, digging, watering, chocolate cake, dragon, salamander, brew, potion


For Alexander Dalziel Sprunt.

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English-language Editions