When Little Eight John's mother warns that misfortune will follow if he kicks the toad frogs, sits backwards on a chair, or counts his teeth, it only spurs him on; later, he laughs gleefully when the baby gets colic, the cow stops giving milk, and his family goes broke. Finally, after one transgression too many, terrifying Old Raw Head Bloody Bones changes the boy into a spot of jam; himself once again, he promises to mind. Wahl, who heard this story years ago ""along the back roads of West Virginia,"" retells it in simple, brief sentences that artfully evoke a country storyteller's pace and cadences. Clays paintings, though warm and energetic, are more contrived, with characters often viewed several times in a scene. Cocky Little Eight John watches his parents' discomfiture with an exaggerated grin; disappointingly, his transformations are not shown; and the cartoony Old Raw Head is at odds with the illustrations' otherwise realistic style. An amusing but flawed rendition of this old-fashioned cautionary tale.