Garlic and the Witch by Bree Paulsen
Under a giant oak tree sits a cottage with a vegetable patch where Witch Agnes lives. One morning she begrudgingly wakes up, magics the candles aflame and climbs down from her loft bedroom. After getting dressed, Witch Agnes settles down to her jam on toast and tea; she is hoping today will be better than yesterday. Donning her hat, Witch Agnes makes her way outside greeting her raven Solas before tending to her vegetable patch, but it’s hard backbreaking work and not very fruitful without a dash of magic. Suddenly Witch Agnes realizes what she needs is a little bit of help.
Back inside her cottage, Witch Agnes mixes together some herbs adding them to her bubbling cauldron before pouring it into a watering can. Back outside, Witch Agnes plants some vegetables: an onion, a potato, a beetroot, a carrot, and a garlic, before watering them with the potion and whispering a spell, but nothing happens. It seems Witch Agnes doesn’t have the green thumb her mother had. Oh well, it was worth a try.
Suddenly there are THUMPS, FUMPS and BUMPS coming from the patch and out pops little Veggie people. Last, with a little help from Carrot, pops Garlic. They are all so cute and delightful, but they don’t look fully formed. It doesn’t matter, Witch Agnes is absolutely delighted.
Garlic wakes up in her little mushroom house. As she’s having a good stretch, she notices something odd… she has an extra finger on each hand! SHE HAS FIVE FINGERS! Sheepishly leaving her house, Garlic walks along nervously with her hands in her pockets when Carrot, who couldn’t help themselves, gives her a scare with their cheerful ‘good morning!’ Is she heading to the garden early? No, she needs to see Witch Agnes about her… extra fingers! Garlic shows Carrot who looks at their own four-digit hand and wonders if the same thing will happen to them all. Suddenly, Garlic says she doesn’t want to bother Witch Agnes because she’s been so busy lately and she doesn’t want to be a bother. Carrot wonders if Garlic might be turning into a witch or a human! Oh no! Garlic doesn’t want to be human. She decides she'll go ask Count. He’s a magic user, so he might know what's going on.
At the spooky castle, which is a lot less spooky now she is friends with the resident vegetarian vampire, Garlic finds Count in the kitchen testing a new batch of the blood substitute he and Witch Agnes are working on which is, upon drinking it, not quite right. Garlic confesses her problem and how, if she's turning human, she’s not ready for such a big change. Count tells Garlic how he became a vampire and that it was a change he was not ready for. It was a spell gone wrong. Some folks like Witch Agnes’ mother helped him adjust but others tried to mold him into what they thought a vampire should be. Those folks were minions. It wasn’t until he started traveling, seeing the world, interacting with humans, and fell in love he realized he could be his own vampire. Count watched his lover grow old and die and to honor him, Count decided to move back to the spooky castle to continue to be himself.
Count thinks Garlic would be a good human if the extra finger is what that means, and points out the other veggies may also start turning too. Really though, she needs to talk to Witch Agnes and not consider it a bother. Witch Agnes will appreciate the chat. Garlic agrees. Maybe being a human won’t be so bad, she’d be able to give her friend human-sized hugs! With her mind set, Garlic thanks Count and heads back home.
An exceedingly rude human after medical remedies is leaving Witch Agnes’s cottage when Garlic arrives. Garlic tells Witch Agnes about visiting Count and the new blood substitute mix not working out. Witch Agnes is dejected and looks tired. Garlic wishes she could help her, if only there was a plant or something to replace the blood. Suddenly Witch Agnes remembers Bloodroot. It’s used in place of blood in spells and could work. It’s difficult to get, but there should be some at the Magic Market. Garlic is intrigued by the magic market and offers, despite her worries, to go for Witch Agnes if Count will accompany her. They call him on the full length mirror and he agrees, so they decide they will set off in the morning.
As Witch Agnes makes a list of other herbs and ingredients Garlic can fetch for her, she notices the little veggie person looking particularly anxious. Garlic shows Witch Agnes her hands and Witch Agnes agrees that yes, it is very probable that Garlic is turning human. The same thing happened to her. What?! Witch Agnes’s mother is the giant tree next to the cottage, she cast the same spell on an acorn to make Witch Agnes as Witch Agnes cast on the veggies, though she gave them a diluted version. This is why Witch Agnes knows Garlic is capable of magic. The other veggies will one day be humans too, but at their own speed. Should probably tell them that… Anyway, there are preparations to be made. As Garlic walks back to her little house, she looks down and sees a small, withered plant tendril. She puts her hand out, and says “grow” and it does. Oh my! Garlic dashes home.
The next morning Garlic is so nervous her hand shakes as she drinks her tea. Gathering her courage, and her backpack, she sets out of her house. Outside Carrot grabs her into a hug and gives her a scarf they knitted the previous night for her to take on her adventure. Jokingly Carrot tells Garlic not to turn human while she is away because she has to wait until they grow more fingers, too. Ha..ha..yeah. As Garlic and Carrot walk through the vegetable patch toward Witch Agnes’s cottage, the other veggies call out greetings and well wishes, even jerk Celery. He even says it with sincerity.
Count is waiting for Garlic when she arrives. Together they enter the cottage where Witch Agnes is double checking her list. As there are quite a few things for them to get, she’s also whipped up a magic bag to carry them in and hands them a magic compass which will guide them to the Market. The Magic Market is a few days' journey and the best way to travel is to fly. Count will travel in his bat form and carry the bag so Garlic can fly on the little broomstick Witch Agnes has made for her, and it’s freaking adorable.
Outside, the veggies are waiting to send Garlic and Count off. When Garlic tries her new broomstick, there is a lot of amazement and the odd dash of jealousy. Soon, Garlic and Count are off. They see wonderful and beautiful things on their travels like a lush forest, an amazingly tall waterfall, and dancing fireflies. For the last leg of their journey, they must fly through a valley with particularly strong winds. Count is flying fine but Garlic struggles and one big gust sends her falling down into the forest below.
Garlic wakes up on the mossy ground, her broomstick nearby. She tries to fly back out but the canopy is too thick and she bounces off with each attempt. After one try leaves her facedown in the moss, Garlic starts to cry. Her confidence is in pieces, she’s lost and lonely, she’s turning human, she knew she couldn’t handle this.
Looking up, Garlic sees fireflies above her. She realizes that being human may be like this adventure: scary but not all the time and sometimes filled with beautiful things she'd never have seen if she didn’t try. Suddenly, Garlic remembers the magic compass. Pulling it out of her pocket, Garlic lets it guide her way.
Garlic walks for a long time and eventually hears someone calling her name. Count is waiting for her at the edge of the trees. They both had the same thought, to reunite at the market. Thankfully, it’s not far away and they’ll continue on foot. Garlic would love to share the forest with Carrot, but maybe she'll wait to bring Carrot until they are both human.
Soon the magic market is before them and it is a sight to behold. Walking the stalls is exciting as they collect the items from Witch Agnes’s list. Count runs into a friend, Demetrius, who calls him Radomir. Apparently Count is a nickname! He thinks Garlic is a nickname too, but it’s not and yes, Garlic thinks she’ll keep it as her name when she’s human.
At last they tick off the final item on their list, the bloodroot, and the witch who supplies it tells them how to grow more. She also tells them about hearth stones as a means of instantaneous transportation so they can travel right back home rather than find a place to rest for the night. They just need to make sure their destination has a hearth or fireplace. Deciding they shall go straight to Witch Agnes’s cottage, they both grab a stone and Garlic steps through first.
Back at Witch Agnes’s cottage, Witch Agnes is waving the veggies off for the evening having just told them they’ll one day be human. Witch Agnes is just about to make a pot of tea when her fireplace starts to rumble and Garlic pops out followed by Count. Witch Agnes completely forgot about hearth stones since she doesn’t travel much. With a bulging bag of supplies, the three get to work making Count’s blood substitute with Garlic recounting their adventure. Once complete, Count tries the drink and proclaims it a complete success! Yey!
Later, Garlic surprises Carrot for a change. She’s back and missed Carrot so much, and Carrot feels the same. As they hold hands, Garlic notices something different about Carrot, they have five fingers on each hand! The other veggies have grown new things like fifth fingers, or noses or hair. Well, all except jerk Celery.
With Witch Agnes later, Garlic and Carrot help to plant the bloodroot in a shady spot. With a little grow magic, Witch Agnes already has them sprouting. Garlic takes Carrot on a broomstick ride to Count's and, while there, Carrot tries their hand at growing magic too - it works! The veggies are all growing taller, growing new appendages, but Celery remains the same.
One day Garlic heads out with her basket and her broomstick to tend the bloodroot. Unfortunately she slips and falls over the edge of a bank. When she sits up and checks herself for damage, Garlic feels hair and notices her hands have skin. She hurries to see Witch Agnes who is surprised and delighted by Garlic’s transformation. Garlic asks to borrow Witch Agnes’s broomstick since hers is too small now so she may take the harvested bloodroot to Count.
At the spooky castle, Garlic finds Count in his greenhouse and he is at first shocked at Garlic’s transformation, but then they finally have their human-sized hug. He sends her off to go and see Carrot quickly. Back at the vegetable patch, some of the other veggies have fully transformed too, while some others look more human but still have vegetable qualities. Celery is still celery. Carrot stands amongst them, fully human, with carrot-colored dreads and their usual dungarees, shirt and tie. Garlic kisses them on their cheek as they fall over in an embrace.
The veggies make bigger houses and Garlic and Carrot move in together. They spend time with their friends, chatting with Witch Agnes and taking tea with Count. Market day is more bustling with the extra humans now. One day, in their own little garden, Garlic and Carrot plant some veggies. Together they water them with a magic potion in a watering can and whisper a spell. It doesn’t take long before there are THUMPS, FUMPS and BUMPS coming from the ground.