Wizzil is a wacky tale by William Steig about the chaos that is created when a witch gets bored. Steig, the author of the wildly popular Shrek! and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, delights his readers again by weaving a little magic into everyday life. This tale, like many of Steig’s, leads the character on a life-changing journey.
Witches do get bored from time to time. And this witch, prodded by her unkind parrot Beatrice, decides that the witch should turn herself into a common house fly and go aggravate someone. The witch decides to pay a visit to the fly-hating farmer, Dewitt Frimp. When Frimp nearly flattens the witch with his fly swatter, the witch plots revenge.
After turning herself into a glove, the witch makes Frimp’s hand malfunction. Hilarity, of course, ensues as Frimp finally throws the glove that caused all the mishaps into the river. This is a delightful story that will play out to the amusement, and amazement, of readers, no matter their ages. Steig is a master storyteller and his tales always have meaning hidden somewhere in them.
In a twist of plot that readers will find delicious, the witch turns into a lovely old lady when she hits the water. Frimp and the witch realize they are truly in love and meant to spend eternity happily ever after in each other’s arms. Who could guess this is how the story would end? But everyone loves a “happily ever after” story and children never tire of hearing the good news of the couple finding happiness in the end. The bad old witch undergoes a change of heart when tossed into the river, as all her “badness” gets washed away.
Wizzil stands out among picture books because of its fanciful illustrations by Quentin Blake. Blake, often a collaborator with Roald Dahl, has a characteristic scratchy pen and ink style that children are immediately drawn to. The watercolor accents add splashes of fun that children will giggle at. It’s a story of adventure with lots of fun along the way. Steig knows how to entertain children while also providing valuable life lessons as well.