Wizzil by William Steig, Quentin Blake |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble


by William Steig, Quentin Blake

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An exciting collaboration

Wizzil, a witch, is bored stiff. So with some coaxing from Beatrice, her parrot, she turns herself into a common housefly and heads over to Frimp farm to stir up trouble. Little does she know, DeWitt Frimp absolutely hates all breeds of fly, especially Musca domestica, and Wizzil narrowly escapes a life-threatening swatting


An exciting collaboration

Wizzil, a witch, is bored stiff. So with some coaxing from Beatrice, her parrot, she turns herself into a common housefly and heads over to Frimp farm to stir up trouble. Little does she know, DeWitt Frimp absolutely hates all breeds of fly, especially Musca domestica, and Wizzil narrowly escapes a life-threatening swatting. Wasting no time at all, she cooks up a nasty plan to teach DeWitt a lesson: she turns herself into a glove, which DeWitt finds and proudly wears, but which also deprives him of the ability to aim his flyswatter. Steig's playful storytelling voice is in full gear in this tale, and Quentin Blake's hilarious, antic pictures are a perfect match for the text.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Old Wizzel the witch's hair sticks up from her head in unkempt spikes; her chosen victim, retired farmer DeWitt Frimp, is bald,; but both author and illustrator have let their hair down for this tale of mischief, revenge, and redemption . . . In short, Wizzil is literary ambrosia. Blake's pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations, full of energy and humor and movement are sublime.” —Starred, The Horn Book
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two masters of children's literature turn in an amiable, if not groundbreaking, performance in this madcap witch story. Bored, Wizzil the witch heeds her pet parrot's suggestion to "go make somebody suffer!" She transforms herself into a fly and relentlessly pesters an ornery old coot named DeWitt Frimp. Observing that DeWitt is a leftie, Wizzil returns the next day in the form of a left-handed work glove; when DeWitt puts the "happy harpy on his hand," his arm misbehaves. The moment of truth arrives when DeWitt hurls the glove into the river, whereupon Wizzil is revealed--and true love blooms. Steig, whose Made for Each Other took a clear-eyed look at sentiment, cuts the romantic sweetness with an ample squeeze of sour lemon. He toys with tongue-twisters and kid-pleasing insults (DeWitt is a "bald-headed fuddy-dud"; Wizzil's a "hateful hag"). Blake (Clown) composes spiky, energetic line-drawings of DeWitt, who flails clumsily at the offending fly, and Wizzil, who struggles and spits when she lands in the water. In the wryly happy ending, newt-brown and froggy-green watercolor hues give way to sunny shades of yellow and blue. Steig and Blake start with unrefined nastiness, then blindside their characters (and readers) with a comical but sincere look at love. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
British children's laureate Blake, and well-loved American writer and illustrator Steig have together produced a book that capitalizes on the zany genius of both of them. Wizzil, a bored witch, transforms herself into a fly to spy on and then torments the old farmer DeWitt Frimp, who, too old to milk cows, has plenty of time for fly swatting. As a fly, Wizzil "sallied down his nose, crossed his cheek, and tickled his ear with her tiny feet." Blake's typically scruffy illustrations show the fly's progress and DeWitt's agonized face in multiple views, followed by a stopped-action picture that is a blur of fly-swatting arms. There are details to delight in Wizzil's house--chicken legs hanging from the ceiling, toadstools under the bed, and a decanter with a finger for a stopper. In true Steig fashion there is a transformation of a living being into an inanimate object, as Wizzil decides to get revenge on DeWitt by turning herself into a work glove. In a surprise happy ending the loathsome Wizzil is accidentally transformed a last time, and DeWitt finds himself "hugging a surprisingly sweet old lady." 2000, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 4 to 8, $16.00. Reviewer: Linnea Hendrickson
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Bored, Wizzil the witch is encouraged by her scheming parrot Beatrice to cause mischief down at the Frimp Farm. Old DeWitt Frimp has a fly fetish and swats the little buggers every chance he gets. That is, until Wizzil, who has coincidentally transformed herself into a fly, takes offense at a few of his near misses. In order to exact her revenge, she then becomes an appealing work glove that DeWitt happens to find. It bedevils the man's fly swatting and generally causes havoc around the farm. When DeWitt is finally driven to dispose of it in a nearby creek, the glove becomes a drowning old woman, whom he rescues. This act of kindness causes the witch to metamorphose from a "hateful hag" into a sweet old lady washed clean of her former "vicious nastiness." The true love that blossoms between this geriatric pair is brought to fruition with enough high jinks and humor so as not to repel unromantic youngsters. Blake's lively watercolor cartoons, filled with humorous detail, are a delightful companion to this ultimately good-natured tale of transformation and rebirth.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Revenge can backfire as Wizzil the witch finds out in Steig's irreverent morality tale. Wizzil is a bored, mean, old witch who has fun making people suffer. Turning herself into a fly, she almost meets death by a flyswatter wielded by DeWitt Frimp, an elderly man who lives with his son and daughter-in-law and spends his days swatting flies. In revenge, Wizzil turns herself into a glove that Frimp loves and wears day and night. Working her magic, Wizzil makes his fly-swatting skill disappear and Frimp is enraged. In addition, Wizzil causes meatballs to explode, glasses of water to spurt up like fountains, and the whole house to shake. Realizing that the glove is the culprit, DeWitt sadly throws the glove into a stream, whereupon Wizzil is transformed into a drowning old lady. DeWitt jumps in and saves her and they live happily ever after. Blake's watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings are filled with action and humor. These two are masters of this genre and together they are unstoppable. Sophisticated, they are never over the heads of the children and the adults who will enjoy Wizzil together. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

William Steig (1907-2003) was a cartoonist, illustrator, and author of award-winning books for children, including Shrek!, on which the DreamWorks movies are based. Steig was born in New York City. Every member of his family was involved in the arts, and so it was no surprise when he decided to become an artist. He attended City College and the National Academy of Design. In 1930, Steig's work began appearing in The New Yorker, where his drawings have been a popular fixture ever since. He published his first children's book, Roland the Minstrel Pig, in 1968.
In 1970, Steig received the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. His books for children also include Dominic; The Real Thief; The Amazing Bone, a Caldecott Honor Book; Amos & Boris, a National Book Award finalist; and Abel's Island and Doctor De Soto, both Newbery Honor Books. Steig's books have also received the Christopher Award, the Irma Simonton Black Award, the William Allen White Children's Book Award, and the American Book Award. His European awards include the Premio di Letteratura per l'infanzia (Italy), the Silver Pencil Award (the Netherlands), and the Prix de la Fondation de France. On the basis of his entire body of work, Steig was selected as the 1982 U.S. candidate for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Illustration and subsequently as the 1988 U.S. candidate for Writing.
Steig also published thirteen collections of drawings for adults, beginning with About People in 1939, and including The Lonely Ones, Male/Female, The Agony in the Kindergarten, and Our Miserable Life. He died in Boston at the age of 95.

Quentin Blake is Childrens Laureate of Great Britain, has won the Kate Greenaway Medal, and is the author and/or illustrator of many books. He lives in London, England.

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