WIZZIL

Revenge can backfire as Wizzil the witch finds out in Steig’s irreverent morality tale. Wizzil is a bored, mean, old witch who has fun making people suffer. Turning herself into a fly, she almost meets death by a flyswatter wielded by DeWitt Frimp, an elderly man who lives with his son and daughter-in-law and spends his days swatting flies. In revenge, Wizzil turns herself into a glove that Frimp loves and wears day and night. Working her magic, Wizzil makes his fly-swatting skill disappear and Frimp is enraged. In addition, Wizzil causes meatballs to explode, glasses of water to spurt up like fountains, and the whole house to shake. Realizing that the glove is the culprit, DeWitt sadly throws the glove into a stream, whereupon Wizzil is transformed into a drowning old lady. DeWitt jumps in and saves her and they live happily ever after. Blake’s watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings are filled with action and humor. These two are masters of this genre and together they are unstoppable. Sophisticated, they are never over the heads of the children and the adults who will enjoy Wizzil together. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2000

ISBN: 0-374-38466-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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CHATO'S KITCHEN

Chato and Novio Boy, low-riding East Los Angeles homeboys of the feline variety, have dinner guests. The invitees, a family of five fat mice who just moved in next door, haven't an inkling that they are the intended main course. But when the mice bring along their friend Chorizo (a worldly mutt in a slouch beret) to share the grub, he thwarts the cats' connivings. This unlikely three- species chow-down is a sweet salute to Spanish cooking, with fajitas, frijoles, and quesadillas sharing center stage. Soto delivers a spare, clever text; the words skip like stones across water—``His tail began to swing to the rhythm. He felt the twinge of mambo in his hips.'' Guevara's swarming, luxuriant illustrations give the atmosphere palpability, with brushstrokes so fresh readers will want to stick their fingers in the paint to feel its texture. Menace hangs in the air; the artist mixes the sinisterness of R. Crumb with moments of Edvard Munch terror, yet it seems likely from the outset that the mice are more than capable of looking after themselves. Incidental touches—little devils and angels darting about, a bird wedding glimpsed through a window—are there for the sharp-eyed. Smart, with a nice edge. Soto's inspired finger-snapping prose has found an equally imaginative comrade in Guevara's colorful urban paintings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 22, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-22658-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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