When the Devil hears that Mother Crump the baker is meaner than anyone, he has to go see what all the fuss is about. You'd think he would have learned his lesson from Wicked John, but no; Mother Cramp not only extracts three wishes from him, but later tricks him, two little devils, and Death itself. When her body finally wears out, she gets a coal from the Devil to start a hell of her own--and uses it to trick her way into heaven, where she opens a new bakery. Lobel's chunky, carrot-nosed figures complement the comic tone, though 18th-century garb may not be the best choice for characters that say, ""Hey, let me outta here!"" Readers won't mind the contrivances (since the Devil, rather than St. Peter, grants the wishes, he has to forget them in order to be tricked), and will enjoy watching Mother Crump work her will on devils, angels, and forces of nature. Hooks' longer version of the story, Mean Jake and the devils (Dial) has a Southern flavor. Against the implacable Mother Cramp, the poor Devil doesn't stand a chance.