When I was about 5 years-old my favorite book was about a group of rabbis who take on a coven of evil witches, and rids the nearby village of their wicked tormentors. But while I loved having the book read to me as I looked at the watercolor illustrations, each night I would have terrifying nightmares about the witches from this book. Most of the nightmares ended with my being dangled miles above a boiling cauldron, and then let go, and I would wake up screaming while I fell. In other dreams I would be chased by a witch through a maze, eventually waking up when I got caught.
My father tried to help me conqueror my nightmares by suggesting that I pour water on the witches, causing them to melt, as the rabbis in the book did ( I guess that’s where Dorothy got the idea from). But the idea of spilling water on my bedroom carpet bothered me enough that I was never willing to try it. Eventually the nightmares stopped, though I still remember them pretty vividly.
Recently I was at a second-hand bookstore when I came across a slightly battered copy of Rabbi and the Twenty-Nine Witches. I was delighted at unexpectedly running into my old childhood friend and I picked it up and leafed through the familiar pages. There are few things that I love more than getting the chance to introduce to my children some of my favorite books from when I was a kid, and I was eager to add this new find to my collection. But then I hesitated and thought back to the nightmares that this book induced. While it seemed unlikely to me that my kids would have the same reaction as I did to the story, I didn’t think I really wanted to risk it. So reluctantly I put the book back on the shelf, for someone else to take home.
Unfortunately, sometimes your childhood friends are best left in the past.