Precious stays home with a stomach ache while her family goes out to plant corn for the day. Her mother warns Precious before she leaves: “Now remember, don’t let nothing and nobody in this house — not even me, ‘cause I got a key.” Precious is feeling like a big girl ready for her day at home alone until her brother warns her about Pruella the Boo Hag, who will do almost anything to get inside. Pruella attempts to trick Precious into letting her inside using various disguises, but Precious sees through her every time and sings, “Pruella is a Boo Hag — she was right outside my windows. She’s tricky and she’s scary, but I didn’t let her in!”
Precious and the Boo Hag by Patricia C. McKissack and Onawumi Jean Moss is a delightfully spooky story based in Gullah folklore. While a bit longer than my average read aloud choices, I believe this book has the power to engage squiggly audiences with its creepy (and honestly a bit silly!) villain Pruella’s repeated attempts to outwit the brave heroine Precious. There is plenty of repetition in Pruella’s visits as well as Precious’ sing-song victory chant that will help children keep up with the narrative, but Pruella’s disguises and tricks change enough each time to keep little ones guessing. Kyrsten Brooker’s larger-than-life illustrations help make the Boo Hag appear more silly than frightening, helping to tone down potential scares for younger children. Overall this is a very fun story that will have children cheering for Precious’ victory over Pruella. This title fits perfectly in any Halloween storytime rotation.
About the Authors
Patricia C. McKissack was a children’s author who chronicled African American history and Southern folklore in more than 100 early reader and picture books. She lived in St. Louis, Missouri.
Onawumi Jean Moss of Amherst, Massachusetts is a storyteller, narrator, keynote speaker and author.
About the Illustrator
Kyrsten Brooker is a children’s book illustrator living in Edmonton, AB.
Helping Kids Rise: Precious and the Boo Hag: A Not So Scary African American Tale
Title: Precious and the Boo Hag
Authors: Precious C. McKissack, Onawumi Jean Moss
Illustrator: Kyrsten Brooker
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Year Published: 2005