I picked this book up for Jamie last weekend, and my - what an absolute beauty! The Wizard is written by children's poet laureate Jack Prelutsky, and illustrated by the amazingly talented Brandon Dorman.
It's the poetic story of a mysterious wizard who lives in a spooky tower at the end of what appears to be your average suburban street. It's beautifully written and had both Jamie and I completely spellbound. The pictures are just superb, and Jamie has been having loads of fun talking about what he can see in each illustration - but also what he can almost see or might see... I've been cajoled into reading it at least three times every night before we go to bed, ever since we brought it home!
There just aren't enough of these kinds of storybooks appearing these days. Publishers have become so 'sanitized' in their selection criteria that it's kind of surprising to see a story about a wizard who (apparently quite callously at first) puts a live frog through a variety of bizarre transformations, and then leans out the window of his tower at the end and peers down at the children playing heedless on the street below (with the final hint that he might put one of his transformation spells on one of them). As we talk about the story and this mysterious Wizard fellow, Jamie has come to discover that the wizard may not actually be all that evil at all - maybe "naughty" if anything, and with a definite cheeky sense of humour.
In any case, I totally recommend this for your children's bookcase collection. It's an absolute cracker!
A couple of bonuses as well:
You can see a fantastic preview of the book's contents on the Harper Collins Children's Book Site page
Jack Prelutsky's personal site is an entertaining spot for children, parents and teachers
Read Jack's Integrating Poetry with Other Arts and Classroom Activities (for teachers)
Jack's Tips for Reading with the Very Young (for teachers and parents)
On a final aside, one thing I like about publisher sites like the Harper Collins one is the fact that they feature direct high visual links to the author's and illustrator's homepages. ELT publishers rarely if ever do that - they didn't and continue to refuse to do so for me, anyway, (see here) despite my polite requests and pleading. In fact, they won't even update my author page or replace the horrendous picture that's there...
But I digress!
Get yourself a copy of The Wizard and enjoy bringing some spooky and imagination-tugging creativity to your child/ren!