Mireille Levert; Illustrations by Marie Lafrance
Hector is a retired wizard and a complete hermit. He seldom leaves his cocoon of a house, nor does he invite over any fellow wizard friends. Not that they would be falling over themselves to visit - Hector's house is filthy, as napping trumps cleaning on his list of priorities. All he really needs is his trusty cat, Poison, for company.
This recluse is contentedly living his grubby life, sleeping tucked in among the cookie crumbs, when he is awakened suddenly by a dreadful noise. A terrible, ear-splitting racket that sends him flying to the window. It seems as if the house across the street has been freshly painted and is emitting the offensive noises in question. Thanks to a bit of careful spying, Hector discovers the new owner is a piano-playing, cheerfully singing woman. Too cheery for him!
Being a wizard, Hector naturally turns to his (dusty) spellbook for the answer. And the answer happens to be a big poisonous cake. Cleverly, Hector presents this monstrosity of a cake to his new neighbor (along with some flesh-eating flowers) Isobel as a welcome gift. But he is unprepared for her beauty, nor is he prepared for her lilting voice and intoxicating aroma. Hector is completely captivated by her air of happiness - he quickly falls under her spell, deeply in love. Unnoticed by the doting couple, Poison and Isobel's cats together attack the cake, and are the only ones affected.
I like the storyline and the illustrations are equally enjoyable. A great non-traditional fairy tale with a traditional happy ending. A fun twisty sideline to watch for in the background are the actions of Poison and Isobel's cat. As a bonus, the underside of the book's dust jacket transforms into a free poster.
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