From School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-It is time for The Witches' Double Spelling Bee and young Cordelia decides to enter. After all, "She's studied. She's practiced. She's ready to win." Grumpy returning champ Beulah Divine, at age 203, is not about to let a little girl trounce her winning streak, so she plays dirty, turning Cordelia's ears into pears, and her hair into a chair. Young Cordelia, though, is able to both win and make a friend out of a fiend. With this "spelling spell," Shannon has used clever wordplay and created a downright fun language game. Fearing's quirky penciled cartoon images accompany this battle of the letters, showing green-skinned witches with big eyes and funny smiles. Classroom spelling bees will never be the same once young readers get their hands on this title.-Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canadaα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
When witches gather for a “spelling” bee, the rules require not just orthographic expertise but magical chops, too, because each contestant has to transform one item into another with the addition of a randomly selected letter. The competition can get ugly, as young Cordelia discovers after 203-year-old champion speller Beulah Divine changes her e-a-r-s to p-e-a-r-s and her h-a-i-r to a c-h-a-i-r in successive rounds. Nonetheless, Cordelia exudes confidence in Fearing’s cartoon illustrations, leading a cast of pop-eyed, comically rendered witches with pickle-green skin. After a suspenseful buildup and a broad hint from her mother that may also clue in alert audiences (“She’s a jealous old fiend!”), the plucky challenger puts her assigned R to good use, and she is last seen flying off in triumph with a huge trophy balanced on her broomstick. The ingenious transformation that Shannon himself works will spell w-i-d-e s-m-i-l-e-s from young audiences. Grades K-3. --John Peters