Publisher: Harper Collins, 1996, 1st ed.
Ages: 4 and up
Themes: humorous stories, siblings, alchemy
Opening: Magnus Bede, the famous alchemist, and his happy-go-lucky wife, Eutilda, thought they had a harmonious family. But their older son Yorick, considered little Charles a first-rate pain in the pants, always occupied with something silly.
Summary: (from my library catalog) An apprentice alchemist finds that his despised kid brother is the only one who can help him when he concocts a potion which makes him the size of a peanut.
I like this book because: who hasn’t dreamed of altering ourselves only to realize it might not be an easy thing to live with? Or to transform one’s own siblings, or a school bully? That’s why it’s so fun to watch Charles enjoy this happening to Yorick from the safety of the sofa!
Resources/activities: play a thinking game that Steig enjoyed with his family: What Would You Rather Be? (taken from the contribution of Maggie Steig in THE ART OF WILLIAM STEIG. Get the book. Read it!) Ask questions like, What would you rather be, a tree or a flower and have students explain why (it lives longer; it’s prettier). And read the book: Which Would You Rather Be?, illustrated by Harry Bliss
Today’s tidbit: Steig’s older brother Irwin gave William his first painting lessons. His younger brother Arthur later founded an art-supply manufacturing firm whose products were widely used by artists and graphic designers, including William.