An early work from the inveterate prankster Cole goes digital with the addition of extra reading options and a short introductory video.
As pleasantly silly now as it was when it first appeared in 1983 (1984 in the United States), the tale features a young narrator who can’t have friends over. Why? It seems that her mom is shunned by all the other parents—perhaps because, as her tall, conical hat with the turquoise dragon and like peculiar decorations signals, she’s a witch. Who makes exploding, vermin-filled cupcakes, turns some of the aforementioned parents into toads and, as a sliding inset reveals, keeps Dad in a jar to cure him of “going to the pub.” Who also saves the school from burning down, so by the end, the ice is broken. In droll contrast to the innocuous text, the cartoon illustrations teem with an array of spells, large monsters and small hairy creatures being enjoyed by laughing children as grown-ups look on in dismay. The page layouts remains approximately the same as in the print edition, but they have been multiplied into three iterations laid end to end: one for silent reading; one read aloud in a properly dry tone by the author; and one in which she appears, but not holding a copy of the book, in a small but expandable window for a series of “live” video clips. Both the audio and the video must be manually triggered on each page.
The lack of continuous play makes the video version superfluous, but the episode will still draw snorts and chortles aplenty from young audiences. (Enhanced e-book/picture book. 6-8)