cover image Mischief Season

Mischief Season

John Bemelmans Marciano, illus. by Sophie Blackall. Viking, $13.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-451-47181-9

Marciano and Blackall, who previously collaborated on The Nine Lives of Alexander Baddenfield, inaugurate the Witches of Benevento series by introducing twins Rosa and Emilio, who live in a small Italian village where demons, witches, and ghosts run rampant. The Janara are supernatural creatures that visit in the night and enact mischief; Rosa has long blamed her own mischief on the Janara, an excuse that has worn out. With the help of friends, the twins set out to find a solution to the increasing woes on the family farm. Marciano’s simple, fablelike sentences will be readily accessible to younger readers, though more complicated words and topics (tarot cards, outdated Italian currency) may prompt questions or investigation. Caldecott Medalist Blackall’s two-color illustrations aid in decoding some of the references, while adding a sweet, playful touch and occasionally calling to mind the work of Wanda Gág. An old-world atmosphere and prickly sibling rivalry make the book read like a classic fairy tale, while an undercurrent of mystery paves the way for future books. Available simultaneously: The All-Powerful Ring. Ages 7–9. Author’s agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Apr.)