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by Bruce Coville & illustrated by Gary Lippincott

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-15-200745-8
Publisher: Harcourt

Snagged immediately with ``If Jennifer Murdley hadn't been forced to wear her brother's underpants to school, the whole thing might never have happened,'' readers will find this latest escapade featuring Mr. S. H. Elives and his quirky magic-shop endlessly funny. Painfully aware that she's plain, fourth-grade Jennifer endures underwear taunts all day before bolting from pretty, obnoxious Sharra Moncrieffe and friends into Elives's odd little store. The creature she buys there turns out to be a no-nonsense talking toad (Bufo) who does Bogie imitations and puts Sharra in her place. Chaos ensues. How Jennifer has the chance to become even prettier than Sharra and how a series of shape-changing spells are broken adds up to a roller-coaster ride of a story, full of humor and even wisdom. Coville's motley siblings, rivals, friends, and braggadocio Bufo all come alive in delicious banter and turns of phrase (a few gross ones, too). The author weaves in Jennifer's yearning to be beautiful from the first, ensuring that readers will identify with her anguished decision when she finally comes face to face with what she longs to be. An unusually felicitous blend of lighthearted wit and imaginative plotting. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-12)