Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > The Wizard, the Ugly, and the Book of Shame

The Wizard, the Ugly, and the Book of Shame by Pablo Bernasconi
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's review
Dec 30, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: picture-book, childrens, 2010
Read in December, 2010

This is one I forgot I had, until I was going through my picture books, and it was a real treat to find it there. It's an engaging story about a wizard called Leitmeritz who lives in a castle at the top of seventeen thousand, two hundred and nine steps. His assistant is Chancery, but he's so ugly the people in the village call him the Ugly instead. The wizard has a book of spells and uses it to help people with their problems, but the one person he won't help is Chancery, who wants to be handsome. "Your shame has nothing to do with magic," the wizard tells him. "It is only the triumph of the mirror!"

But Chancery feels desperate enough to open the book of spells when Leitmeritz is away; upon making his wish, the spells leave the book and rain down in confetti-like letters. In a panic, Chancery puts them all back in the book, but the wizard's spells are all in a mess. When the wizard discovers what has happened (or rather, Chancery confesses when all Leitmeritz's spells go wrong), there is only one way to fix the problem: "Chancery must attain his innermost wish - without using any magic."

The solution is simple and wonderful and if poor Chancery's tale of woe doesn't touch you I'd be very surprised. The story itself is longer than most picture books, with whole paragraphs and dialogue, but the story is so engaging and the pictures so gorgeous it's great motivation for kids to up their reading level. I've been trying to figure out how the illustrations are done - they look like collages but not; possibly done on computer or maybe painted? There are delightful steampunk twists, and I love how some parts are found objects - like the wizard's nose, which is a carrot:

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