Kumin and Sexton’s 1975 tale of a reckless young wizard gets a makeover with Katz’s vibrant, whimsical illustrations.
Delicate, colorful lines depict the exaggeratedly long limbs of the human (and animal) residents of Drocknock. Elements of Drocknock’s architecture and clothing are intricately patterned and layered, dominated by cool shades of blue. In contrast, the town’s new wizard, fresh out of school, arrives on a red motor bike and is immediately identifiable throughout the book by his bright red cap and glasses. Upon his arrival, he promptly resolves a townwide case of chicken pox, returns a farmer’s missing cows, and corrects a drought using a concoction that includes his own tears. Buoyed by his own success, the young wizard begins to experiment further, ignoring his predecessor’s warnings: “Wizards’ tears are precious. Wizards’ tears are powerful.” It isn’t until he’s inadvertently transformed the townspeople into plump little frogs in varying shades of green that the young wizard realizes his error and sets out to fix his mistake. The large blocks of text visually balance out the illustrations and make this book an excellent read-aloud for older picture-book readers, while many of the words repeat throughout the text to support emerging independent readers’ facility with language (the leading is forbiddingly tight for those just beginning). Characters are all the white of the paper they are printed on.
Silly, sincere, and optimistic, this reissue with new illustrations will delight a new generation (or two). (Picture book. 3-8)