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Literature / Ms Wiz

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"I go wherever a little magic is needed"
-Ms Wiz

Ms Wiz is a series of children's books written by British author Terence Blacker. They follow the antics of a witch (who does not like being called one) Dolores Wisdom a.k.a Ms Wiz who arrives as a new teacher at St Barnabus school for the troublesome Class Three. Through her magic and various fun schemes she is able to transform the class and improve their lives. However the rest of the teachers hate her at the school and she is forced to leave but she returns in other books to help the individual children whenever they need it.


Tropes associated with these books:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Podge's certainly veer towards this as his father starts complaining when Podge starts reading more and asking questions, threatens to spank him when he makes a scene at the assembly, tells him he looks like a football on legs, plans to move him away from St Barnabus and throws out all his books to make room for exam guides. Bear in mind that Podge is about eight years old.
    • Katrina's in a different way, as they're finicky neat freaks and perfectionists. They enter her in a modelling contest, try to make her go on a diet and forcibly pluck her eyebrows.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Subverted and played straight with Podge's dad in Power Crazy Ms Wiz. He does give up his plans to make him move schools and put him on a diet but he doesn't give up his grumpy attitude. Caroline's parents also remain on frosty terms despite having a good night out together in Ms Wiz Goes Live though they seem to re-learn their Aesop once again.
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  • Affirmative Action Girl: In the first couple of books Caroline and Katrina were the only girls mentioned in Class 3. With You're Nicked, Ms Wiz this adds Lizzie to the class and Nabilla is added in Time Flies With Ms Wiz (it's specifically stated that Nabilla was new in that book).
  • All Paranormal Operatives Have Cats: Ms Wiz has a china cat (which shows some signs of life even if Hecate never actually moves) but - possibly in defiance of this trope - her 'familiar' is a rat instead.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Ms Wiz gives off this impression to the adults, but the children know this is not the case.
  • Awesome McCoolname: One of Ms Wiz's aliases is "Diamante Wisporina". She gets away with it because she's in Hollywood. Dolores Wisdom is also a pretty cool name in itself.
  • Berserk Button: Do not call Ms Wiz or any of her friends witches. They prefer being called Paranormal Operatives.
  • Big Eater: Podge, who is usually described as having a snack whenever he's around.
  • Black Vikings: Lampshaded in Time Flies For Ms Wiz where Nabilla goes back in time to an Elizabethan village, and the locals are wondering why she's so brown (she's Pakistani, but Ms Wiz uses local ignorance to claim that it's just another village where the sun shines a lot).
  • Blue-Collar Warlock: All the Paranormal Operatives.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Caroline's five-year-old sister Little Musha.
  • Brick Joke: The start of Ms Wiz Supermodel has Katrina's mother remark that her eyebrows look like "a couple of hedgehogs in a gale" when they decide to enter her in the pageant. Three chapters later Podge says to her "your eyebrows look like a couple of worms having a race towards your nose" implying Katrina's mother plucked them for her.
  • Burn the Witch!: Averted in "Time Flies With Ms Wiz" as the Elizabethan villagers are ducking a girl who they believe to be a witch.
  • But Now I Must Go: Happens at the end of every book.
  • Characterisation Marches On: In the first book Caroline is described as the class dreamer who can never concentrate on her work. None of the later books show signs of this in her though that side of her could have been fixed with Ms Wiz as a teacher.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The FISH powder from In Control Ms Wiz pops up again in You're Kidding Ms Wiz to help the kids out, but now serves a different purpose.
  • Class Clown: Jack.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: One book has a pair of cat burglars with one who is thrilled to see the cats being rescued.
  • Comic-Book Time: The kids remain in Class Three for nearly all of the books, despite a mention of "end of term" in the first. You're Kidding Ms Wiz has a Time Skip to when they're now Class Five. Ms Wiz Supermodel was published after that and is chronologically the eleventh book in the series. But there's no mention of Brian Andrews so one could assume it takes place before Ms Wiz meets him.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Ms Gomez and Mrs Hicks argue about whether or not Mr Gilbert has been turned into a wild boar or a warthog, ignoring the fact that the headmaster has just been turned into an animal by magic.
    • Similarly Brian Arnold deliberately ignores Ms Wiz making hamburgers float and turning the floor into an ice rink when he demands to know if she keeps a rat under her t-shirt.
  • Companion Cube: Ms Wiz has a china cat called Hecate. It's somewhat sentient and its eyes flash whenever people are causing mischief.
  • Complexity Addiction: Ms Wiz appears to have this as she resorts to zany schemes to help the children out. For example going to Downing Street to stop Podge from being moved schools and conjuring up Fergie and Andrew to stop the local library being closed.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: When Jack can't give Ms Wiz's owl the right answer in maths, the owl keeps pooing into the bin and Ms Wiz says every time he does it, it means 50 lines. One can assume he'll also have to clean the bin out...
  • A Day in the Limelight: The first book is quite general but the rest normally focus on a specific child. There are a couple more general books focusing on more than one. The list is roughly:
    • In Stitches With Ms Wiz - Jack.
    • Ms Wiz Goes Live - Caroline.
    • You're Nicked, Ms Wiz - Lizzie.
    • Power Crazy Ms Wiz - Podge.
    • Ms Wiz Supermodel - Katrina.
    • Ms Wiz Banned - Carl (acting to rescue the rest of the class).
    • Time Flies For Ms Wiz - Nabilla (trying to rescue Jack).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jack and Herbert.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Katrina is described as someone who "liked to find fault wherever possible" but becomes nicer over the course of the series.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: Jimmy, the host of a programme Caroline and her sister end up guest starring on. After a few minutes with Little Musha he goes mad and starts cursing on the air.
  • Diet Episode: Power Crazy Ms Wiz starts out as this, but the focus is more on Podge being forced to move away from St Barnabus.
  • Disappeared Dad: Lizzie's dad left her mother at a young age but she still sees him every now and then. Her mother hasn't remarried, claiming Lizzie's father "cured me of men".
  • Evil Twin: Ms Wiz has one called Barbara, who was born on Friday the 13th (Ms Wiz apparently has twenty sisters, of which Barbara was the thirteenth born, but it is not specified if Ms Wiz is older or younger than Barbara).
  • Expy: Ms Wiz could be considered a female one of Mr. Majeika, a wizard teacher character from a series of books first made in the 80s.
  • Fake Nationality: In-universe example as the runner of the kids' fashion show turns out to not be French but an impostor.
  • Five-Token Band
  • Freudian Excuse: Half the kids at the school really do have terrible parents.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Ms Wiz's FISH Powder - Freeing Illustrated Storybook Heroes.
  • Fur and Loathing: Mrs Darcy, the villainess of You're Nicked, Ms Wiz.
  • Halloween Episode: Ms Wiz Loves Dracula. Also doubles as a Christmas Episode.
  • Happily Married: Jack's parents, the only ones in the series to not appear to have any problems. Ms Wiz herself with Brian Andrews, from You're Kidding Ms Wiz onwards.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jack and Podge.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Oh boy...
    • Podge's dad is verbally abusive, calls his son a "football on legs" and freaks out when he starts reading more instead of watching TV.
    • Katrina's parents are hyperactive neat freaks as well as germaphobes. They forcibly pluck Katrina's eyebrows and almost force her to go on a diet for a modelling contest.
    • Caroline's parents have blazing rows and are perfectly fine with having them in front of their children and the PTA. Caroline gets scared after a spell when she sees them holding hands.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: In-universe example as Katrina's parents say she'll have to go on a diet when they enter her in a beauty contest.
  • Hot Witch: Ms Wiz dresses as one for the PTA Halloween Dance. Mrs Thompson remarks that the PTA isn't used to seeing glamorous witches, still believing in the Wicked Witch stereotype.
  • Informed Ability: In-universe in the second book where Ms Wiz poses as a supply doctor and the consultant eventually notices how she hates the sight of blood and is never around when real medical work is needed.
  • Insistent Terminology: They aren't Witches, they are Paranormal Operatives (except for Ms Wiz's evil sister Barbara, who happily considers herself a witch).
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Ms Wiz loves this and at the end of year assembly tuns the headmaster into a warthog, two other teachers into geese and Podge's dad into a sheep. She also turns a TV producer into a panda in another book. Her spells like that don't last long though.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Lizzie Thompson. One book is driven by her cat getting lost.
  • Lady Drunk: Lizzie's mother is like this every year at the PTA Halloween Party. It only takes two glasses of wine.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Mrs Darcy, the Cruella to Animals villain of You're Nicked, Ms Wiz is punished by having all her fur clothes get restored to life. As everything she's wearing is of fur, she's left completely naked. As she's found in a public car park, this probably ads public indecency to her list of crimes.
  • Magic Librarian: Ms Wiz only in "In Control, Ms Wiz"
  • Magical Nanny: Ms Wiz is one. She first appears as a teacher though other books have her popping up as a doctor, assistant librarian, tramp and even a famous actor's secretary. She does actually babysit in one book (and she started that one doing a survey for a window-cleaning company).
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Inverted where the calm and down to earth Brian Andrews charms Ms Wiz, though the plot remains the same.
  • Mind Screw: In Control Ms Wiz ends with Ms Wiz disappearing into a book...
    Podge: But that means that Ms Wiz is a character in a story...
    Caroline: But where does that leave us?
    Jack: Don't even think about it.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Mrs Hicks is said to talk to her teddies during class, regardless of the age of the kids she's teaching.
  • Moral Guardians: Parodied in Ms Wiz Goes To Hollywood when one of these protests against a movie being made of Ms Wiz's life, out of fear that it'll cause children to play with the occult.
  • Naked People Are Funny: You're Nicked, Ms Wiz ends with the police discovering Mrs Darcy in her car...completely naked because Ms Wiz has turned all her fur back into the animals they came from. And everything Mrs Darcy was wearing was made of fur.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • Averted. When Ms Wiz and Nabila go back to an Elizabethan town one girl says there are a few boys called Jack in town.
    • An example with a place name in "Ms Wiz Banned". The Paranormal Operative Headquarters is abbreviated as PO. Ms Wiz remarks everyone keeps mistaking it for the Post Office and sending their parcels there.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Only Ms Wiz's husband calls her Dolores. Also nobody calls Podge "Peter" and everyone calls Caroline's sister "Little Musha" when her real name is Annie.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Jack's mother realises he's seriously ill when he says he's too sick to skateboard.
  • Perky Goth: Ms Wiz wears black lipstick and nail varnish and has a gothic appearance, and is also usually bright and cheerful whenever she's around.
  • Politically Correct History: Ms Wiz tries to invoke this when pretending to be Queen Elizabeth I, changing her famous speech to "I may have the body of a weak and fantastically intelligent woman but I have the heart and stomach of a Queen". But averted when we find that an Elizabethan girl is thought to be a witch because she has a stutter. Also the villagers react strangely to the Pakistani Nabilla asking her why she is so brown.
  • Precocious Crush: Ms Wiz falls for a man dressed as Dracula and believes he's a real vampire. Eventually subverted when she learns he's just a school inspector.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Jack loves skateboarding, football and everything well as apparently owning nearly all of Beatrix Potter's books and being near tears when Peter Rabbit gets squashed under a bus.
  • Really 700 Years Old: More like 11,000 years old.
  • Refugee from TV Land: Happens in "In Control, Ms Wiz" thanks to the FISH Powder, which frees characters from books. Those freed include a Big Eater from the Guinness Book of Records, the entire cast of Beatrix Potter and Fergie and Andrew from the Bumper Book of the Royal Wedding; however, they are apparently only capable of limited independence, as their words belong to their authors rather than the characters themselves and they are therefore mute, requiring Caroline to impersonate Fergie's voice.
  • Remember the New Guy?: There's a few times where Ms Wiz arrives at the school to find new students who haven't met her yet such as Carl, Nabilla and Shelly. Lizzie also isn't actually introduced until the 3rd book but is stated to have been in Class 3 when Ms Wiz taught there.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Podge would be the sensitive guy, and Jack the manly man.
  • Shrinking Violet: Mr Goff the librarian. He is described as finding books easier to deal with than people.
  • Shout-Out: Ms Wiz has magic powers and marries a business man that loves her but doesn't want her to use her magic. Sound familiar?
  • Speaking Like Totally Teen: When Ms Wiz and two friends substitute as teachers at the school they break into a rap song during morning assembly. The kids just sit there in disbelief but Class 3 recognize her and join in.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: Podge's dad.
  • Talking Animal: Ms Wiz's pet rat Herbert. Her owl Archie can't talk though.
  • Team Mom: Lizzie's mother has the most interaction with Ms Wiz in the series, going with her to the PTA Halloween party and also inviting her over for Christmas dinner.
  • Those Two Guys: Simon and Alex, the only other two children mentioned in Class 3 who never get plots to themselves.
  • Time Skip: You're Kidding, Ms Wiz jumps ahead two years to when the kids are in Class 5.
  • Time Travel: The plot of the book Time Flies With Ms Wiz.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Feisty and aggressive Katrina O'Brien, hand in hand with daydreamer wannabe actress Caroline Smith. Additionally Kindhearted Cat Lover Lizzie Thompson with headstrong Nabilla who admires Joan of Arc.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Played with in Ms Wiz Goes Live; Ms Wiz, Caroline and Little Musha willingly go inside the TV but have to escape before the parents get home.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: In You're Nicked Ms Wiz Lizzie gets changed into a cat to help find her lost one.
  • Wizards Live Longer: See Really 700 Years Old above. Ms Wiz apparently remembers cavemen - though then again she is able to time travel.