cover image Professor Popkin's Prodigious Polish: A Tale of Coven Tree

Professor Popkin's Prodigious Polish: A Tale of Coven Tree

Bill Brittain. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.95 (152pp) ISBN 978-0-06-020726-7

In the small town of Coven Tree, Maine, the Devil is up to his old tricks. As in past antics ( The Wish Giver ; The Devil's Donkey ), Ole Nick does his best to trick the people of this peaceful town, and is again foiled by Yankee ingenuity and community spirit. This time, the focus is a cleaning fluid made of lost souls, ``guaranteed to give new life'' to whatever it cleans. Naive Luther Gilpin is lured by the idea of the easy money to be gained from selling the potent polish. Axes, awls, woodstoves and toy soldiers come to evil life as Luther demonstrates the product, but luckily his mother's lye soap can clean up any mess. Luther sends the concoction back to wherever it came from, and decides that farming is not such a bad way to earn a living. Like Natalie Babbitt's The Devil's Storybook , Brittain's version of evil hinges upon on human foibles, and his sense of humor is ever apparent. This story makes for good Halloween reading. Illustrations not seen by PW . Ages 8-12. (Oct.)