cover image Alice and Greta: A Tale of Two Witches

Alice and Greta: A Tale of Two Witches

Steven J. Simmons. Charlesbridge Publishing, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-88106-974-7

This prim volume preaches the ""Brewmerang Principle,"" which states that ""Whatever you chant,/ Whatever you brew,/ Sooner or later/ Comes back to you."" Alice is a winsome and well-behaved witch; Greta is of the wartier wicked variety. Both girls learn the same sorcery at Miss Mildred Mildew's School of Magic, but ""whereas Alice's spells were simply enchanting... Greta's were deviously diabolical."" For instance, Alice conjures an ocean wave to lift a stranded boat from a sandbar, while Greta uses the same spell to wreck a sand castle. Readers are meant to detest the rebellious Greta and adore the cloyingly cute Alice; in the story's resolution, Alice uses the Brewmerang Principle to reverse one of Greta's pranks (""The children crowded around Alice and cheered!""). Yet the lesson in good karma backfires. Simmons never suggests why Greta became so mean, nor shows another witch doing a kind deed for her. Likewise, Moore's watercolors, with plenty of pink for Alice and ""poison green"" for Greta, only accept sugar-and-spice notions of a proper little girl. By pitting pert against punk, the collaborators inadvertently evoke sympathy for the antihero. All ages. (Aug.)