For the fourth time, the homespun town of Coven Tree shakes under an assault from Evil (as it did in the The Wish Giver, a 1984 Newbery Honor book); again, the threat is headed off with spunk and Yankee ingenuity. When young Luther Gilpin sees an ad for Professor Popkin's Prodigious Polish, guaranteed to bring ""New Life"" to household objects, dollar signs flash in his head and he volunteers to be the local sales rep. Unfortunately, the polish works all too well: toy soldiers come to life and shoot real bullets, while an ax shines like new but also begins to chop furiously on its own. Horror-stricken, Luther sees havoc created all over town and starts to flee, but his friend Dorcas and old Stew Meat, narrator and general-store proprietor, persuade him to try again to set things right. Finally, Dorcas saves the day when she discovers that the mischievous polish is no match for Mrs. Gilpin's infamous lye soap. Though the action here depends on single idea and the outcome is never in doubt, this is a folksy story with a delicious chill or two and brisk telling that would recommend it for sharing aloud. Illustrations not seen.