From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–Tegan, a witch's daughter, is hurrying home so as not to be late for Trick or Treat, but a large, fearsome warthog is blocking the gate to her house. Though too young to perform magic, she decides to try a few spells to move the animal. First, she commands a passing dog to bite it, but her magic fails and the dog says no. She adds to the spell, and each addition gets more violent, until she is chanting: Match, match burn stick. Stick, stick beat dog. Dog, dog bite warthog so I can get home in time for Trick or Treat. But all refuse to obey her bossy demands. Fortunately, an old man comes by and teaches the girl about the art of persuasion. After some practice, she convinces him to throw the match at the stick and begin her spell. The final picture shows Tegan's mom putting away an old-man disguise before taking her daughter trick or treating. Single-page, bright, overly busy illustrations do little to enhance the choppy text. Readers may be disturbed to find that instead of finding another way to rouse the warthog, the old man goes with Tegan's last resort spell of beating the dog with a burning stick to get him to bite off the warthog's tail.–Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA
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K-Gr. 3. This highly atmospheric Halloween story manages to work in a lesson about how to win friends and influence people (or warthogs). A witch's daughter faces a huge obstacle to her trick-or-treating plans: a slavering warthog is curled up in front of the gates to her home, and the girl's mother has banned her from using magic until she is older. The young witch uses her powers anyway. First, she tries to coerce a dog into biting the warthog. When that fails, she attempts to get a stick to move the dog, and then to light a match to fire up the stick. Nothing works, until an old man advises her to try simple persuasion. The idea of not being able to trick-or-treat will grab kids' attention, and Atwell's paintings, with elongated shadows of bare branches and ravens contrasting with the golds and purples of a Halloween sunset, establish the perfect setting. Connie FletcherCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved