Celebrate Twenty Years of Magic!
Gr 3-6Popular children's author Bruce Coville narrates his tale of the meaning of true beauty (Harcourt, 1992). Plain Jennifer Murdley, hating her own looks and tormented at school by nasty Sharra and her pals, stumbles into Mr. Elives Magic Shop and buys Bufo the Toad. Bufo is no ordinary toad. He's opinionated, overbearing, does a pretty fair Humphrey Bogart impression, and lands Jennifer in serious magical trouble. Coville's narration, in his light tenor voice, is well-paced and a pleasure to hear. The performances of the supporting cast are generally well done, although somewhat underplayed. Bufo's bellowing is merely a raised voice, and the anger and fear of the children as terrible magic happens all around them isn't always convincing. The performance of Vik Mullick as the witch is weak, failing to convey either the witch's allure or her evil in a very compelling manner. However, the power of Coville's story overcomes these quibbles. Jennifer's struggle against the witch, who can give her the beauty she desires if she will sacrifice Bufo, is genuinely moving. Bufo's telling of his origins as one of the Immortal Vermin is absolutely hilarious. Teachers will appreciate Coville's brief description of how he came to write the book and develop its theme at the end of the tape. This book-on-tape will be an asset to any collection.-Elizabeth C. Fiene, Clermont County Public Library, Bethel, OH