by Natalie Babbitt
This charming little book is full of witty stories about the Devil- portrayed as a short-tempered trickster always trying to stir up trouble. Sometimes the Devil gets the results he wants, other times the people he's trying to deceive fool him instead. All the tales have a subtle moral- mostly about the consequence of choices or desires, and a lesson about human nature. The tales in The Devil's Storybook are titled:
"Wishes"- The Devil wants to trick people by granting them wishes in ways they don't expect. But the first two people he meets don't really want a wish. Then he meets the ideal victim- a foolish boy.
"The Very Pretty Lady"- A beautiful woman wants to be loved for more than just her looks. The Devil admires her beauty and tries to convince her to join him in Hell, but instead of getting what he wants, ends up granting her exactly what she's been looking for.
"The Harps of Heaven"- The Devil sends two brother who are thieves up to Heaven to steal a harp for him. But the brothers are always quarreling and fighting, so they keep messing up the job.
"The Imp in the Basket"- This story doesn't feature the Devil as a main character, but a good-hearted clergyman who tries to takes care of an imp- a baby devil- that's left on his doorstep.
"Nuts"- The Devil likes eating walnuts and hates cracking them. He tries to trick someone into cracking the nuts for him by hiding a pearl inside one.
"A Palindrome"- About an artist who is a good man beloved by all the people, but paints horrid pictures. The Devil admires his awful paintings, and wants them for himself. What happens to the artist when the Devil steals all his work is so strange and sad.
"Ashes"- An amusing story about an evil man who was cremated when he died. His ashes got mixed up with those of a pig, so when he showed up in Hell, there was this pig following him around everywhere. He tries to find a way to get rid of the pig.
"Perfection"- The Devil is annoyed by a girl who is always doing things right. He tries to get her to loose her temper so she won't be so perfect anymore.
"The Roses and the Minor Demon"- Features a minor demon who has a soft spot for roses. He wants to grow some, but of course the Devil objects to having roses in Hell.
"The Power of Speech"- The Devil wants an old woman's goat. But she knows he hates the sound of bells, so she's tied a bell on the goat's neck. Looking for a way to get the goat away from her, the Devil gives it the power of speech- with results no one was expecting! I think this is my favorite of all the stories.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 101 pages, 1974