Don’t let the title fool you—Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key has nothing to do with witches!  This science fiction story would be excellent for children new to the genre.  It is written in easily understandable prose, but the themes are mature: prejudice, the need to belong, discerning between right and wrong, loss and grief, choosing what kinds of adults to trust, protecting your family.  I would say the best audience is the middle school child.

Tony and Tia live in a detention home run by a former policewoman.  Sadly, she lacks both compassion and imagination.  The brother and sister aren’t sure where they’re from, and they can’t remember their parents. With unusual abilities, they are considered troublemakers. Tony can visualize places he’s never been and make small objects dance when he plays the harmonica.  Tia can open any locked door—if it’s the right thing to do.  In fact, she has an uncanny ability to sense whether a person or situation is good or bad.  She also has a deep sympathy for animals; they are drawn to her.  Tia cannot speak normally, but she and her brother communicate ultrasonically. Because they feel so different from other kids, they sometimes imagine they come from another world.

When a man claiming to be their uncle comes to take them away, Tia can tell he is lying.  They turn to their only friend for help: Father O’Day. With integrity, understanding, and ingenuity, the priest helps the children escape their pursuer as they follow the few clues they have to their mysterious past.  Father O’Day is one of the most positive adult figures I have ever read in children’s literature.

The clues lead them to a place called Witch Mountain. Having spent most of their lives in the inner city, the children are stunned by the beauty of nature.  When Tony and Tia use their unusual talents to elude a rural police chief, the townspeople label them witches.

After many twists and turns, the book comes to a surprising and dramatic conclusion that will leave readers breathless and wanting more.

The edition of the novel published in 2009 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky has 144 pages.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.