When Mateo’s favorite elf—the titular Joy—disappears, his search involves an encounter with the Ragdoll Witch.
Mateo has often seen Joy in such places as Daddy’s beard and “the brum-brum-brum of Grandma and Grampa’s car when they came to see him.” Mateo, who has a fringe of orange hair and no apparent chin, learns from his fish that the Ragdoll Witch was “sick of that pestering pixie.” The witch, whose stylized appearance includes traditional black gown and pointy hat, plus hairy legs, is featured vertically on a double-page-spread as she casts a spell that will enable Mateo to acquire—immediately—anything he wishes for. When his wished-for tablet, roller skates, and dragon appear, Joy begins fading to nothingness. A green-haired fairy produces a counterspell so that Mateo’s wishes are only partially granted: He gets an outing with his grandparents instead of a mountain bike, a book instead of a video game, and, instead of a mansion for his favorite action figure, “his mommy and daddy helped him build a giant house out of old cartons.” Will this make Joy reappear? Perhaps something was lost in the translation from Spanish, as this is a story that even preschoolers will find annoying and sappy. Some of the collaged art is interesting, but much of it is as lackluster as the text. All characters present as white.
Transparent moralizing. (Picture book. 3-5)