Two wizard spouses practice one-upsmanship in this brief, very polite war of magic wands. The quarrel starts with both relaxing on either side of a baby's crib, wearing the starry robes and peaked caps of their trade. "" `It's your turn to change the baby,' said the wizard's wife. `Yes, my dear,' said the wizard with a wave of his wand. `But...' Poof! `It's your turn to feed the cat.' "" When the pale-orange smoke clears, the baby is indeed changed--a pie-eyed brown cat has taken its place. Mrs. Wizard calmly agrees that the cat is her responsibility, but adds, ""If you recall, you're supposed to walk the dog."" In another explosive ""Poof!,"" a white dog appears where the cat (i.e., the baby) had been. The wizards continue their evenly matched contest by transforming the weather, their house and finally themselves. O'Brien (The Bookworm's Feast) illustrates the hocus-pocus with swooping, tempestuous pen-and-ink drawings and pointillistic, shimmery dots of watercolor. His determined characters vie for absurd comebacks and call out treacly nicknames like ""lovey-poo"" and ""my precious"" throughout their competition, parodying a typical marital spat. Parental bickering may not be the best stuff of comedy, but the antagonists do arrive at a workable family solution: with a final poof, they and their child turn into ducks and live ""quackily ever after."" Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999 Release date: 09/01/1999 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.