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Humbug Potion by Lorna Balian
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Humbug Potion

by Lorna Balian

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Lorna Balian, whose 1965 picture-book, Humbug Witch, followed the story of a little witch (or was she?) who couldn't quite get things right, returned to the world of magical practitioners with this 1984 title, which offers both enchanting adventure and alphabet puzzle-book. The tale of a homely witch who longs to be beautiful, Humbug Potion details the many ingredients necessary for the potion she is brewing, to improve her appearance. With a page devoted to each letter of the alphabet, and the ingredients themselves listed in code (each letter corresponds to its numeric position in the alphabet, so A=1, B=2, and so on), it provides a fun, interactive reading experience, as young readers must decipher the text.

As the homely witch adds everything from a rusty 14-1-9-12 to a bunch of 7-18-5-5-14 / 7-18-1-16-5-19, not to mention things like a 8-1-9-18 from the head of a 8-5-14, the bubbling brew thickens... but will it work? Regardless of the outcome, young readers who enjoy puzzles and codes will have a fun time figuring out what each ingredient is (the decoder is presented on both the front and rear endpapers), and will discover that it gets easier with each page, as certain letter-number combinations become fixed in their minds. The artwork is cute - I especially liked the witch's cat, whose expressions were very droll! - in a vintage way, and while the story isn't particularly engrossing, the reading experience is entertaining all the same. Recommended to anyone in the market for witchy picture-books, alphabet books with a slightly different focus, or children's books that provide more of an interactive challenge. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 30, 2013 |
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A homely witch is delighted to find a secret recipe for beauty but it is written in a code that the reader must help her decipher by learning the letters of the alphabet.

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