The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble

Bk. 1. illus. by Frank Cammuso. 96p. (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde Series). Abrams/Amulet. 2013. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0803-9; pap. $6.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0804-6.
Gr 2–5—It's hard enough navigating elementary school, but for Salem Hyde she has to do so while keeping her magical skills in check in Cammuso's (Knights of the Lunch Table, 2008) charming new graphic novel series. After Salem confuses the upcoming spelling contest with spell casting and accidentally turns the crossing guard, Mrs. Fossil, into a dinosaur, her non-magical parents enlist the help of a magical companion to assist Salem. Percival J. Whamsford III, or "Whammy" as Salem likes to call him, is a cat who has 800 years' experience teaching young witches to use their powers. Salem's impulsive antics (flying a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom and having a whale materialize in the gymnasium when "wail" is misspelled during the contest) frustrate Whammy, but ultimately the two come together to make things right and form a strong friendship. Cammuso's play on words are simple enough for new readers to understand and sophisticated enough to entertain those with more advanced skills. A memorable scene about a "WHAT Witch" test that is reminiscent of Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First" routine. The characters are drawn with big smiles and wide eyes, invoking classic comic imagery, while the mostly black-and-white illustrations are infused with shades of pale green. Fans who like their Sunday cartoons with longer plots and hysterical antics will clamor for the next adventure in this creative series. Move over Babymouse-there's a clever new character in the graphic novel section.—Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY

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