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Be careful what you wish for . . .
The Fell Family has a small problem—a little devil that lives in their house. He does all sorts of bad things, and the Fells are fed up. When the prim and proper Ms. Phisto mysteriously appears and offers to remove the little devil and come take his place, the Fells are all too happy. But trading in one small problem for something else might just get you a very, very BIG problem. People often say, "You're better off with the devil you know than with the devil you don't." And maybe there's some truth in ...
The Fell Family has a small problem—a little devil that lives in their house. He does all sorts of bad things, and the Fells are fed up. When the prim and proper Ms. Phisto mysteriously appears and offers to remove the little devil and come take his place, the Fells are all too happy.
But trading in one small problem for something else might just get you a very, very BIG problem. People often say, "You're better off with the devil you know than with the devil you don't." And maybe there's some truth in that.
With wildly inventive illustrations, and zany humor, this picture book brings a familiar adage to life in unexpected ways.
Think Amityville Horror with a happy ending-the bedeviled family ends up enjoying the good life on an Acapulco beach-and that pretty much sums up this vibrantly imagined if bumpily executed debut work. The Fell family is forced to share their home with a junior devil ("He came with the house. He was nothing but trouble"). Sick of his shenanigans-which include waterskiing down the stairs, tethered to the cat-the Fells strike a deal with the officious, mysterious and completely green Ms. Phisto, only to have things get much, much worse (hence the title). Hale's acrylics offer a comical take on the underworld (younger readers may find the pictures a bit too vivid). He's clearly had great fun detailing the Walpurgisnacht that envelopes the house with Ms. Phisto's arrival; the book's visual tour de force is a spread devoted to a sizzling Disneyland for demons (aka "Devil's Playground"), complete with an attraction called "Hot Seat." What's missing is another kind of magic: a sense of narrative rhythm. The book feels crammed with incident, but the drama never builds. Consequently, the denouement arrives with a soft thud, despite Hale's considerable visual talents. Ages 4-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
This is a humorous tale about a family that inherits a small devil when they buy their house. After living with his disruptions for some time, they decide to hire the services of a mysterious lady who offers to get rid of their devil in trade for providing her a place to stay. After agreeing to this contract, the family learns that getting rid of one small problem may have in fact created another bigger problem, as the mysterious lady ends up bringing all of her monsters with her. The family cannot live this way and decides to be sent away to where the little devil has previously been sent. This is a wonderful book to use in problem solving and teaching the value of possibly working through small problems, rather than taking the easy way out, which may lead to big problems. 2005, Walker and Company, Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A small-but naughty-devil lives in the Fells's house. When the family finally gets fed up with his infuriating antics, they call on Ms. Phisto, who specializes in "minor-demon removal" and "light housekeeping." Dressed in a prim skirt and jacket that perfectly match her green wings, horns, and tail, the tiny lady is a bit Mary Poppins and a bit Mephistopheles. She forces the Fells to sign a contract: she will make the pesky creature disappear and then move into their home in his place. However, when she unpacks her numerous boxes (containing demons of all shapes and sizes), does some redecorating (installing a "lake of fire and brimstone in the kitchen"), and shows a bit of temper, the Fells discover that "When you trade the devil you know for the devil you don't, you just might get burned." The clever ending has the humans reunited with their original fiend and living happily ever after on an Acapulco beach. The brief text keeps the action moving quickly, while the story's details are fleshed out in the amusing acrylic artwork. Relying heavily on shades of pickle green and hot-dog red, the paintings have a flat, almost retro look. Hale creates a cast of colorful and not-too-frightening devils and fills the pictures with details that demand close viewing. The exasperated expressions on the family members' faces add to the fun. This spirited romp will appeal to readers who are not afraid of a little magic and mayhem.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.