Salem Hyde is brash, outspoken, and has a pair of pigtails that resemble bat wings. She’s also a witch, and she needs help keeping her powers under control. Enter Percival J. Whamsford III (aka Whammy), a magical cat Salem’s family hires for that very purpose. Never mind that she would’ve preferred a unicorn: “A witch and a cat?” she grouses. “That’s so unoriginal!” Illustrated in energetic green-and-black cartoons packed with physical comedy, Cammuso’s (Otto’s Backwards Day) odd-couple story reads like a salute to the comic strips of yesteryear, with plenty of punning and deadpan deliveries; he even sneaks in a few references to Star Trek and The Simpsons. Along with the ongoing clashes between headstrong Salem and persnickety Whammy, the plot concerns Salem’s quest for success in an upcoming spelling bee, while outsmarting a teacher who has it out for her. In one of many funny moments, Whammy tries to sanitize the story of Moby-Dick for an impressionable Salem (“Did I say harpoons? I meant... balloons”). It’s just about the perfect story for comics-loving fathers to read with their comics-loving daughters. Ages 7–9. (Oct.)■
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013 Release date: 10/01/2013 Genre: Children's
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