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WITCH HAZEL by Alice Schertle


by Alice Schertle & illustrated by Margot Tomes

Age Range: 4 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-06-025140-9
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Johnny lives with two man-sized brothers who are fond of him despite their careless condescension--he is young, and little; busy Bill and Bart don't want Johnny's help as they chop and plow on their wilderness farm, leaving him to observe and dream and make his own arrangements. Still, when they plant the corn, they give Johnny a few pumpkin seeds to plant, and they put up a witch-hazel branch with which he makes a special scarecrow (``Hazel'') with a long skirt to hide his one big pumpkin. In the fall, when Bart and Bill leave Johnny alone while they take their fine crop to market, he witnesses (or perhaps dreams) a magical event: Hazel tosses the pumpkin into the air, where even Johnny's brothers can see that it makes an unsurpassed harvest moon. At the conclusion of this tender, understated story, the motherly figure that this motherless boy has made for himself tucks him into his bed before disappearing forever, while the pumpkin leaves enough seeds for another year. Tomes's gentle earth tones and old-fashioned setting nicely extend the portrait of a lonely, sweetly persistent child whose imagination helps him make accommodations with overbusy caregivers. A thoughtful change of pace for Halloween--or anytime. (Picture book. 4-9)