This book has been chosen because it has
been written/illustrated by a Flemish author and, although it represents
a world full of magic, it also reflects the cosiness of Flemish homes
and everyday life. Witches have always been a popular ingredient of Flemish
Lotje would very much like to conjure up a cake for her birthday, but
that doesn't seem to work, so she gets one at the witches' shop. When
she comes home, she cannot find her cat, so she flies back to the village
to find it. She goes to the grocer's, to the shoe witch and to the animal
witch, but the cat seems to have disappeared. Lotje is very sad at the
thought of a lonely birthday-party without her cat but, when she gets
home, she finds all the witches at her house... they have prepared a splendid
surprise birthday for her. Lotje waves her magic wand...and her cat is
back. What a party!
Picture 1: It was Lotje's birthday. 'Happy Birthday to me,'
she sang on her way home. '
She had just been to the Witches' Store to buy a cake because her magic
spell hadn't worked. In fact, when she waved her wand and said the magic
words: 'Hocus-pocus, pudding and pie, make me a cake in the blink of an
eye!' no cake had appeared. 'Come on, Poes', she called to her cat as
she flew off.
Picture 2: When she got home, she set the table, just in case anybody
was going to visit her. She unpacked the cake and the big bottle of orange
witches' brew (Poes' favourite drink!). 'There, she said, doesn't it look
grand! Poes, where are you? She looked under the table and in all of Poes'
favourite hiding places. 'Maybe he stayed in the store,' she thought.
I'll simply have to fly back there and have a look.'
Picture 3: Poes loved to go to the store. Witches are very fond of cats,
and the Witches' Store had a special section with cat food, cat toys and
Picture 4: Poes and his friends liked to play in the store whilst their
Picture 5: 'Hello,' called Lotje. Have any of you seen Poes? I can't find
him and I want to show him my birthday cake.'
Picture 6: 'Oh dear, Lotje' answered the Witches' Store witch. I haven't
seen your cat. He's not here. And we can't help you to look at the moment.
Picture 7: Lotje decided to try the Nearly New shop.
Picture 8: Poes loved to sleep high up on the shelves.
Picture 9: 'Hallo', said. 'Has anyone seen Poes? I've been looking for
Picture 10: 'No, Lotje', answered the witch-shopkeeper. We haven't seen
your cat, and we can't help you look at the moment.
Picture 11: "Maybe Poes went to the pet store," thought Lotje.
Picture 12: The Pet Store Witch sometimes let him play with her rabbits
Picture 13: 'Hallo!' said Lotje to the chief witch. 'I have lost Poes.
Have you seen him?'
Picture 14: 'No, Lotje', answered the witch. 'I have not seen your cat.
I wish I could help you, but it's time for our music class.'
Picture 15: 'Where can Poes be? I've looked everywhere,' Lotje said to
herself. ' I hope he has gone home, because I don't know
where else to look.'
Picture 16: She rested awhile in her thinking place, trying to
think where Poes could be.
Picture 17: As she flew towards her house, Lotje wondered if Poes would
Picture 18: It's very unusual for Poes not to be at home. I've got such
a lovely round cake to share with him.
Picture 19: In the house all is quiet... Poes is not there.
Picture 21: 'SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY
BIRTHDAY DEAR LOTJE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!'
Picture 22: 'Oh,' cried Lotje, 'what a surprise! How wonderful! If only
Poes were here, everything would be perfect!'
'You're a witch, why not use a spell to find
him?' shouted one of the witches.
'Silly me,' Lotje laughed
'Hocus-Pocus, Poes, hear!
I'll wave my wand and you will appear!'
Picture 20: She waved her wand. "Theodore! I'm glad to see you."
Everyone had a wonderful time at the party. The cake was delicious and
Lotje loved all her presents, but the very best present was THEODORE.
"Theodore," Lotje whispered, "where were you? I was worried."
Theodore purred and licked his face. He wasn't going to tell!
NB This is a working translation
for educational purpose only.
for use in school:
This picture book presents a world of magic in a familiar setting. Many
young children will be able to identify with Lotje, the young witch in
the story, as her behaviour is quite plausible and not unlike children
in most European countries.
THE BRT (Belgian Television) televised this book and it is available on
1. As the pictures in the book are very detailed, children should
be able to look closely at them and talk about what they see. Small elements
of each picture could be photocopied and the children might associate
them with corresponding situations in their own lives. They could then
discuss these similarities and differences and put these on a chart in
2. The children might like to guess what the parcels contain - the shapes
should give some indication Also, a closer look at the activities of the
witches that Lotje visits should help them to find out. After this, the
children, in pairs, could write descriptions of unusual objects/presents
which they have received. These could then be guessed by other members
of the class and maybe put into a class 'Riddles' book.
3. The contrast between light and dark (inside/outside) plays a major
part in this book. You might like to develop this theme by looking at
the contrasting language which can be used for each.
4. As there are a number of characters and situations in the story, it
could be dramatised and developed to link with a theme about witches and
5. In order to make linguistic comparisons, children can compare the Flemish
text with the English translation. Some pages have an almost direct translation
(eg p.13), and it is possible to detect similarities between the languages,
whilst others (eg p.21) are completely different. Why might this be?
Are birthdays universal? Possibly consider countries which celebrate
saints' days, too. eg France and Spain.
literature and language-based activities can be found in
Picture Books sans Frontières available