cover image The Wizard

The Wizard

Bill Martin, Jr.. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-298926-2

Aided by his assistants--a frolicsome frog, an albino rat and a green gnome--a wizard prepares to cast a spell, reciting all the while. ``I dance. I sing. I twinkle. I wing,'' he proclaims, maneuvering acrobatically around his workshop until he lands in his bubbling cauldron: ``I disappear!'' First-time illustrator Schaefer, working in glowing oils, makes the most of Martin's ( Old Devil Wind ) jaunty but minimalist rhymes, creating scenes so full of activity that they fairly zip off the page. The wizard, a weirdly plastic figure, makes stardust with glowing stars and a handheld cheese grater; is rated (e.g., ``9.5''; ``10'') by his assistants on the fierceness of his growl; and plays ping-pong over his cauldron while a beetle uses the net as a high-wire. In other scenes, the rat surfs on a wave cresting in the cauldron and the frog skies down a hill of bubbles. A high-energy, if slight, romp, with an agreeably puzzling ending: Is the wizard's disappearance the accidental result of overexuberance, or the intended culmination of carefully orchestrated spells? Ages 3-8. (Sept.)