Vivian Vande Velde Main Page
Wizard At Work
Ages: 8 - 12
Publisher: Harcourt
Book Description:

A young wizard, who runs a school to teach wizards, looks forward to a quiet summer off but is drawn into adventures with princesses, unicorns, and ghosts instead.

Scroll down to read the entire page, or click on a link to go directly to:
Review
Awards/honors
Where do you GET those ideas?
Excerpt
More Stuff

Review

* "Weaving hilarious twists on familiar folktales and deft, clever solutions to a succession of domestic crises, Vande Velde...invites readers into (a) most entertaining magical world..." -- Kirkus Reviews starred review

Awards/honors

  • Book Sense 76 List

Where do you GET those ideas?

I've always enjoyed fairy tales, and it was fun to write about a wizard who was different from the usual wizard, and to take that opportunity to touch on some other stereotypes in fairy tales, such as unicorns, ugly stepsisters, rescues gone awry, and those if-you-complete-this-quest-you-get-to-marry-the-princess type stories.

Excerpt

"I've come to rescue you," said the wizard.

The princess tossed a candy into the air and caught it in her mouth.

The wizard watched her chew. And chew. And chew. Then he watched her select another candy and pop that into her mouth. Usually rescues did not go like this. Finally he said, "Well?"

"Well, what?'

"Are you coming?"

The princess asked, "Do you mean: Do I consent to be rescued?"

"Yes."

"No."

"No?"

"Yes."

The wizard shook his head to sort this out. "What do you mean, no?"

More Stuff

The first story I wrote about the somewhat cranky but good-hearted wizard with no name and limited magic was published in Highlights for Children in 1988: "The Dragon, the Unicorn, and the Caterpillar." But that story didn't make it into Wizard at Work because it's for slightly younger children.

I wrote more stories about the wizard, starting with a challenge. At a writer's meeting, my friend Chris Lynch told how two of her kids had split a wishbone down the middle, and when they came to her asking whose wish would come true, she said both, but each would get the other's wish. Then she told us that writing a story about switched wishes would be our writing assignment. But I was the only one who actually wrote a story--including Chris.

I wrote two more princess stories, but each one was too long, and the language and humor was a bit too sophisticated, for picture books, and the three that went together were too short for a book. About fifteen years after I'd written them, I sent them to my editor, Michael Stearns, at Harcourt, and he suggested that I add another couple of stories.

Duh.

So I did.

 

Foreign editions:

 

Thai version                  Indonesian version