With simple rhymes and a gentle spirit, veteran children’s author Cobb (Daddy Did I Ever Say? I Love You, Love You, Every Day, 2012, etc.) offers an enjoyable story of a witch-in-training whose good intentions go awry.
Little Greta Grohm, a student at Wilhelm’s Magic Academy for “magically gifted witches, warlocks and more,” discovers a lonely cat hiding under a car one rainy day. She names him Hamlet and brings him home, confident that her bird friends, Ray and Dew, will be delighted by the new addition to the family. At their first meeting, however, the birds squawk, Hamlet hisses, and general pandemonium breaks out. What to do? Greta, an apprentice witch, waves her wand and tries a spell—and accidentally zaps Hamlet into a painting of sunflowers. She asks her talking magic book for help, and it responds, “What is it now! / Did you turn your mom / into a dog, or the / dog into a cow?” Unfortunately, Greta doesn’t listen to the spell book’s instructions carefully enough, and transports herself, Ray and Dew into the painting. Ray and Drew comfort apologetic Greta (“They flew onto her shoulders, / Ray kissed her with his beak. / Dew then wiped a tear away / as it rolled down her cheek”). The birds, who paid close attention, finally steer Greta in the right direction, and the crisis has a happily-ever-after resolution. This pleasant, engaging story provides valuable messages about friendship and the importance of good listening. Artist Pentangelo’s colorful, playfully skewed images underscore the text’s comical tone and contain numerous small details that attentive readers will enjoy: Greta’s fuzzy kitty slippers, daisy-trimmed skirt and rain boots, her umbrella’s tiny fish decorations, and sunflowers growing out of cups, books and shoes.
A sweet but never cloying tale of a student witch, playfully illustrated.