Who!?!! Me, first: Elizabeth, apprentice witch, promoted to journeyman, dismissed for sentimentality; lonely in a new school, discovering the satisfaction of being different, becoming a friend. Jennifer, master witch, familiar of Hecate and Macbeth, mentor of Elizabeth; also her fellow fifth grader at William McKinley School, later her friend. . . In the tart Juvenile vernacular of a New York suburb, Elizabeth recounts the rigors and rewards of her apprenticeship: raw eggs and raw onion sandwiches (recipe given); thirteen taboos ("Never cut my hair. . . Never wear shoes in the house on Sundays"); a flying potion compounded of such exotica as snowballs from the deep freeze and fingernail parings. Gradually, Elizabeth comes to resent Jennifer's domination, and when Jennifer is about to drop Hilary Ezra, their pet toad, into the pot of potion, she rebels. The girls part in anger, but come together again on the next-to-the-last page and laugh at their former obfuscations; they are no longer would-be witches, they are just "good friends." Elizabeth, expressing her disgust at pinching relatives and posturing schoolmates, is a self-proclaimed pest and problem to her parents: the reader empathizes immediately. Jennifer, who happens to be Negro, is likely to remain an enigma (of some fascination) to her contemporaries, as she is to Elizabeth. The sudden resolution of their relationship is unconvincing, and the adults are either satirized sharply or borne stoically, but Elizabeth's narrative has considerable pertinence and vitality. With the important difference that the girls do not hurt anyone, this raises some of the questions attending the reception of Harriet the Spy. On balance, we find it a fresh, funny spoof of the adult Establishment and the cliches of conjuring.

Pub Date: March 21, 1967

ISBN: 0786275421

Page Count: 135

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1967

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The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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