The Widow's Broom

Book Information
Rating: Outstanding
Reading/Interest Level: Preschool, Primary
Author: Chris Van Allsburg
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Year: 1992
ISBN: 9780395640517
Pages: 32

A witch summons another ride, and leaves her old broom behind after it lost it power to fly and crashed them into an elderly widow's garden. After taking in the broom, the widow discovers that it can sweep a floor by itself, play a piano one note at a time, and magically perform other useful tasks. Her neighbors come to see the broom and feel that the broom is unnatural and dangerous. Children bully the broom, and when it defends itself the neighbor visits the widow and demands that it's destroyed. In order to placate her neighbors, she pretends to destroy the broom, but secretly paints it white and has it haunt her neighbor as a ghost. Frightened, the neighbor moves away while the widow continues to enjoy the piano music one note at a time.

This delightful story's illustrations are monochromatic, but wonderful. Readers will love the chiaroscuro lighting in the more dynamic pictures. This a perfect book for October that tells a fun, slightly haunting tale to young children. It is told much like a traditional folktale without the Disney twist, meaning that the bullies get their just desserts and brooms lose their flight and old widows play clever tricks on their neighbors. Although The Widow's Broom is an enjoyable read, there are no subtle moral messages within the story; it has just enough magic, mystery, and mayhem to send a good autumn chill down your spine.