The Surprise in the Wardrobe

Val Willis, Author, John Shelley, Photographer Farrar Straus Giroux $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-374-37309-2
A sequel to these collaborators' The Secret in the Matchbox , this story similarly explores a child's imagination through an alter ego who comes to life and embodies the fantasies a child might have upon not being listened to or taken seriously. One might think that by now Bobby Bell's teacher and peers would heed him when he claims to have a secret, but the class persists in believing that the witch who accompanies him to school the next day is merely a ``new girl.'' The witch's prankish proclivities result in the transformation of the usual dreary school lunch to hot dogs, french fries, cakes and soda pop--along with a profusion of frogs and hairy spiders. In contrast to the dragon of Bobby's first adventure, the witch specializes in mischief rather than intimidation, and interacts more winningly with Bobby, making this the warmer and more genuinely funny story of the two. Alive with detail and action, Shelley's colorful illustrations are surrounded by borders in which figures cavort in vignettes of their own. An adventure that richly repays close scrutiny. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
Genre: Children's
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