Everything readers who have conquered chapter books could want: 14 brief, perfectly paced episodes that add up to a cauldron-sized triumph in the reformation of a witch. The residents of a forest--hare, blackbird, hedgehog, owl, plus bats and frogs--are routine victims of the wicked witch's awful pranks. They despise these tricks, yet when she's not around--or around and not playing tricks--they miss the excitement. Kraan's first book plays with this ambivalence, prying comical moments from the animals' attempts to be civil (the witch is suspicious but slowly grows accustomed to being treated nicely) and from the witch's insistence on trickery even in the waning days of her interest in it (she puts a spell on the other well-wishers so that she will be the first to the birthday hare's house with a present). Replete with amusing black-and-white watercolors, every chapter ends neatly, turning on a wry observation from the owl or a moment of gentle insight from the witch. In the end, the witch is so confounded by her own dawning decency that she almost puts her magic book away for good. In this last scene and throughout the book, Kraan steals readers' expectations and transforms them into chuckles.