Solid middle-grade fare. Ten-year-old Apple Olson is particularly sensitive when Barnaby Thompson calls her mother a witch, because it happens to be true. She's a good witch, though, whose tricks include turning the rice crackers in Apple's lunch into oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies. She's absolutely adamant that she won't share any of her sorcery with Apple for another six years. But Barnaby requires special treatment, and when Apple overhears a spell, one thing leads to another until, ""Ribbetty, rabbitty, rug,/Turn Barnaby into a slug."" Only then does Apple understand her mother's caution regarding spells--they're easy to cast and the consequences are tricky. This well-paced tale is not entirely seamless, but the characterizations are good and tension builds as Apple's efforts to untangle her situation only make it worse. Highly detailed, comic black-and-white pictures throughout add to the fun.