cover image Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel

Alice Schertle. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-025140-6

The magical harvest moon casts a radiance over this touching story of the triumph of imagination. Johnny is deemed too small to help with the family crops, so his brothers give him a few pumpkin seeds to plant on his own. He fashions an improbable though very comely scarecrow from a witch hazel branch, a gingham dress and an old bonnet, much to the amusement of his brothers and the hungry crows. Johnny, however, has every confidence in Hazel's abilities, and indeed the folds of her skirt manage to conceal one very special pumpkin from would-be prey. The rustic, earthy tones of Tomes's ( Stone Soup ; The Little Jewel Box ) illustrations bring Hazel to life with a warmth and tenderness that belie her wooden figure. Schertle's ( That's What I Thought ) gentle, bucolic text resonates when read aloud and exudes the charm of a good old-fashioned folktale. When Hazel shows Johnny how their pumpkin contains the secret of the harvest moon, readers' hearts will likewise glow with pleasure. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)