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Literature / The Little Witch

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The Little Witch (in German: Die kleine Hexe) is a children's novel written by Otfried Preußler in 1957.

The little Witch sneaks into Walpurgis Night at the young age of a hundred and twenty-seven, only to be punished when the big witches find her out. With the help of her raven, Abraxas, she must learn to be a good witch for the Head Witch to allow her in the next festival.

It's probably not related to South African children's books and the TV puppet series Die Liewe Heksie ("the beloved Little Witch'' in Afrikaans) that began as books in The '60s and became a TV show in The '70s. Verna Vels, the author of the South African children's books of the same name, was responsible for children's broadcasting for the South African Broadcasting Corporation and oversaw many Afrikaans and English adaptations of children's books from Europe, including this one.

Not to be confused with Dorrie the Little Witch or Little Witch Academia.

Adaptations in release order:

  • A 1959-60 South African radio play by Verna Vels, the creator of Die Liewe Heksie.
  • A German radio play by Phonogram GmbH, released in 1970, 1971 and 1977.
  • Englisch lernen mit Otfried Preußler – Die kleine Hexe ("Learning English with Otfried Preußler - The Little Witch"): A German radio play written by Robert Metcalf and published by Der Audio Verlag in 2005.
  • A 2007 German radio play by Westdeutscher Rundfunk.

Films — Live-Action

  • A 1969 German puppet television film, directed by Albrecht Roser.
  • Маленькая колдунья (Malen'kaya koldun'ya): A 1977 Soviet hand-drawn film strip.
  • Маленькая Баба-Яга (Malen'kaya Baba-Yaga, "Little Baba Yaga"): A 1986 Soviet live-action television film, directed by Anatoly Ravikovich.
  • A 2018 German-Swiss live-action film, directed by Michael Schaerer.


  • A German children's play with puppets by Münchner Marionettentheater.
  • A 1971 German marionette stage play by Augsburger Puppenkiste.
  • A 1973 German stage play by Otfried Preußler.
  • A German stage play by Naturbühne Steintäle, performed four times since 1979.
  • A German stage play by Waldbühne Sigmaringendorf, performed three times since 1980.
  • A German stage play by Freilichtspiele Bad Bentheim, performed three times since 1982.
  • A German stage play by Freilichtbühne Bökendorf, performed since 1996.
  • A 1996 German puppet stage play by Gerhards Marionettentheater.

Eastern European Animation

  • Malá čarodějnice: A 1984 Czechoslovak-West German animated television series, directed by Zdeněk Smetana. A film adaptation was also released in the same year.

Films — Animated

  • Маленькая колдунья (Malen'kaya koldun'ya): A 1991 Soviet animated film.

The Little Witch provides examples of:

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  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: The finale reveals the belief of the big witches that a good witch does bad things with magic.
  • De-power: The little Witch strips the big witches of their magic, leaving her the only active witch in the world.
  • Enslaved Tongue: The little Witch helps three women collect sticks for fire without any interference by making the forester say the opposite of what he means.
  • Familiar: The talking raven Abraxas serves the little Witch as her advisor.
  • No Name Given: With the exception of Rumpumpel, none of the witches in the book get names.
  • Talking Animal: The little Witch has a raven familiar named Abraxas that can speak.
  • Wizards Live Longer: The little Witch is a hundred and twenty-seven years old, but the big witches deem her too young to join Walpurgis Night.

  • Age Lift: Downplayed. The Czechoslovak-West German animated series keeps the little Witch's vast age but changes her appearance to that of a little girl.
  • Animated Adaptation: The book has been adapted into a Czechoslovak-West German animated television series in 1984 and a Soviet animated film in 1991.
  • Audio Adaptation: Phonogram GmbH adapted the book into a radio play in 1970, 1971 and 1977.
  • Cute Witch: The Czechoslovak-West German animated series gives the little Witch the form of a little girl.
  • The Film of the Book: The book has been adapted into a German puppet television film in 1969, a Soviet hand-drawn filmstrip in 1977, a Soviet live-action television film in 1986, a Soviet animated film in 1991, and a German-Swiss live-action film in 2018.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: The book has been adapted into two live-action films and eight stage plays.
  • The Show of the Books: The book has been adapted into a Czechoslovak-West German animated television series in 1984.