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THE WARTHOG’S TAIL by Debby Atwell


by Debby Atwell & illustrated by Debby Atwell

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 2005
ISBN: 0-618-50781-7
Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

A mother teaches her daughter a lesson in persuasion in this Halloween take on “The Old Woman and Her Pig.” Unfortunately, the tale bites off more than it can chew. When Tegan, the witch’s daughter, comes home from fetching water, she finds a fierce warthog blocking her gate. Spells are unsuccessful at getting him to move: “Match, match burn stick. Stick, stick beat dog. Dog, dog bite warthog. . . . ” On an old man’s advice, she tries a new tactic: Speak politely, trust and put heart in your smile. This works, not only on the warthog, but also on a rock, a horse and the old man himself. In what seems to be a tacked-on ending, readers will find out that Tegan’s mother needed the warthog’s tail for a spell to save Halloween and that the old man is really her mother. The brilliantly colored illustrations are filled with harbingers of fall. One, however, sticks out like a sore thumb. When the original spell finally works for the duo, the accompanying picture is reminiscent of a Mexican Day-of-the-Dead painting. Fails to be either a Halloween tale or a moral lesson, and the final trick is hardly worth it. (Picture book. 5-8)