Thursday, April 28, 2011

Old Witch and the Polka-Dot Ribbon

Wende & Harry Devlin, Parents Magazine Press, 1970

I loved the Cranberryport books by the Devlins when I was young and I just discovered Old Witch and the Polka-Dot Ribbon by Wende and Harry Devlin and I'm sort of surprised I didn't read this one when I was young since my parents seemed to have collected all of the Parents' Magazine Press books. Their illustrations are very distinct and while they aren't my typical aesthetic there's a kind of nostalgia there that I can't ignore.

Old Witch lives in the attic of the Jug and Muffin Tearoom in Oldwick. One day she wakes up to discover Nicky and his mother baking a cake for contest. The contest is part of a fundraising carnival aimed at raising funds for a new bandstand. Old Witch raises some havoc in the kitchen until she's banished and she sulks outside muttering little rhymes like the one in the next illustration.

Finally Old Witch gets an idea to enter the contest herself and she unwittingly discovers some contest fraud and solves the problem in her own unique way. The story is full of clever, wry language that makes me chuckle and like all Devlin books it comes complete with a recipe for Old Witch's Magic Nut Cake.

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