Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Zap Flap! The Witchy Wories of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter

Come to think of it, the day my brother tried to eat his first-grade teacher turned out to be the same day that my dad brought me home a very, very strange cat.

Abbie is used to the problems that go along with being a witch-in-training in a wizardly family. She finds it hard to remember to conceal her special abilities from her best friend Callie, and she only grumblingly puts up with her mom's insistence that she forgo magic and do her chores the hard way.

But when her first-grade brother Munch tries to morph into a wolf and chomp his teacher to keep out of timeout, Aggie has to zap off a quick timefreeze spell, persuade Munch to take his punishment calmly, and then throw in a tardy forgetting spell on everyone around to cover her tracks. A little too slow to return to class, her slipshod magic earns her a trip to the principal's office. Back home at last, the day is saved from total misery by her dad, who shows up from work with a tiny black kitten for her. After months of begging for a pet, Aggie is thrilled.

But the more she bonds with little Tom, the more she begins to wonder what kind of kitten he is. He seems actually to enjoy looking at her science textbook, and before long she realizes that the kitty can read--and quite well, knocking off scientific tomes as fast as she can check them out of the library for him. Then she finds him typing notes to her on her computer with his tiny paws. Suddenly Abbie gets it--Tom is really Thomas Edison, inventive genius, changed into a kitten at the age of 13. Although her mom and dad finally come up with a spell to return him to human form, they all realize that unless they can get Tom back to his own period in time to make all his world-altering inventions, history will be irretrievably changed.

Half in a trance from watching the pizzas in the microwave turn round and round as the cheese started to bubble, Tom murmured. "Um...I can't quite seem to recollect...'

"Technology," I answered.

"You know, Tom, if it weren't for a lot of the things you're going to invent, most of these things we use every day wouldn't even be around. Like if you hadn't invented a system to get electricity into people's houses, we sure wouldn't be microwaving pizzas right now. And if you hadn't thought up a way to record sound, we wouldn't be hearing that heavy metal Munch is blasting upstairs."

"Oh, Bother," said Tom, as he winced at the loud thumping of the bass. "P'raps I ought to rethink that one...once I finally think of it."

Despite her witchy worries, Abbie is the prime mover in this plot, and with the foiling of the bad-apple wizard behind the whole evil time-altering magic, the young witch manages to help solve their problem and make the world safe for microwaved pizza and heavy metal sound with wit and humor.

It's a candy-corn fiction confection with a kernel of time-travel suspense and a niblet of common sense and good will thrown in, and fans of the Disney sit-com The Wizards of Waverley Place will slip seamlessly right in to the dilemma of a young witch trying to make it in the muggle world. Aggie is a likable and lively character who isn't sparing with her endearing nonstop self narration, and The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams (Dial Books, 2010) is a welcome addition to the popular tales of good little witches muddling along in a muggle world.

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