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Alice and Greta

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Alice is a good witch. And Greta... well, Greta and trouble are never far apart. Alice spends her time helping others by weaving her enchanting spells. All Greta does is wreak havoc. But when a forgotten spell comes back to haunt her, Greta's stuck learning something she should have learned long ago.


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.)

PreS-Gr 2‘Alice and Greta are two young witches attending Miss Mildew's School of Magic. Alice uses her magic for positive results, while Greta, in contrast, plays tricks that land her in trouble. That habit causes Greta to miss an important lesson‘the "Brewmerang Principle"‘"Whatever you chant,/Whatever you brew,/Sooner or later/Comes back to you!" After graduation, Alice uses her powers to rescue stranded sailboats and find lost puppies, while Greta uses them to spread confusion. Her pièce de résistance involves covering some children with melted marshmallows. At first delighted, the youngsters become scared when they realize they're stuck. Alice's attempt to rescue them lands her in the goo as well. However, she paid attention to the Brewmerang Principle, and is able to reverse the spell, leaving Greta to suffer the results of her misdeeds. As with the melted marshmallows, a little bit of moralism would have gone a long way in this book. Instead readers are nearly suffocated with sweet stuff, which prevents true characterization or plot development. Overly generous use of pink (Alice) and green (Greta) in the illustrations goes hand-in-heavy-hand with the pedantic tone of the text.‘Tana Elias, Meadowridge Branch Library, Madison, WI

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