“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” gets a new treatment as Schnitzel, apprentice to the renowned wizard Sir Willabald, is loath to tackle the housekeeping.
The weedy, white youth, a self-described “lazy lout,” especially dislikes vacuuming, as he must use a temperamental, purple-tentacled beast of a machine. When a fanged salesman who resembles Bela Lugosi appears at midnight with a “Goooood evening,” the apprentice is more than happy to accept his offer to demonstrate the power of his fire-spewing vacuum cleaner. Echoes of The Cat in Hat abound, from the reference to the vacuum as “The Thing,” its red-and-white–striped bag, an umbrella stand, and the story itself, which the apprentice recounts in rhyming, first-person verse. The stranger is revealed to be a vampire when he threatens to bite the apprentice’s neck. Just in time, Sir Willabald restores order to the household with a great “POOF” of his wand in an expansive and very effective double-page spread. Primarily illustrated in gray-toned watercolors, splashes of color highlight the action. Pale, cartoonlike characters with outsized features match the lively text with exaggerated movements. Children will enjoy watching a housecat’s often hilarious reactions to the events throughout. An author’s note gives a brief history of the traditional story and some suggestions to children for writing their own versions.
Just enough creepiness for a Halloween read-aloud. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)