Beware! A bewitching read
Tanina seems to be the most beloved of all Zarchi’s characters among Israeli children. And it’s not only kids who love her. Tanina is a young witch, but is she a child or is she a woman? Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, she grows and shrinks
intermittently. And as befits a witch, everything she says comes true.
Tanina has a cat named Belly Button, who talks to her and serves her loyally (another wink at Alice in Wonderland). Tanina puts Belly Button through magical crises, turns herself into a falling leaf, releases characters and letters from their books, and drives her two little sisters, Gol and Yat, absolutely crazy. Tanina lives in a perfectly realistic world of ordinary people. Her encounters with them, however, end either in wonder at their way of life (in the best case) or in amusing catastrophe (the almost-worst case). There’s magic all around Tanina and she
excels in the art of witchcraft and takes full advantage of the perks that come with a magical existence. She is brimming with philosophical ideas and ingenuity and insists on living her life the way she sees fit.
Over forty years have passed since Tanina first appeared. This collection consists of twenty-one stories that offer, all at the same time, an abundance of different ways in which they can be read: straightforwardly or searching for symbolism;
helter-skelter or deeply probing; sidesplittingly or seriously; scanned quickly, or perused slowly and curiously; as poetry or as narrative, and from many more alternative viewpoints. This wonderful multiplicity opens a wide scope for interpretation, and invites the reader of any age to read Tanina again and
Illustrations: Odelia Lifshitz