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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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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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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