This picture book for grades 2-5 would make a wonderful Halloween read-aloud.
Picture book, fiction
Interest level: grades 2 through 5; Reading level: 5.3
4 out of 5 stars
Witches’ brooms don’t last forever. They grow old, and even the best of them, one day, lose the power of flight.
This opening sentence sets up a story that is both suspenseful and unpredictable.
As readers can predict, the witch in the story is riding her broom when it loses power and she falls to ground. She lands in a vegetable garden where she is found the next day, bruised and battered, by the widow who lives there, Minna Shaw. Minna Shaw is a kind woman and takes the witch into her home to recover.
The witch recovers, but she leaves behind the powerless broom. Minna Shaw “began using it around the house and found that it was no better or worse than brooms she’d used before.” Until one morning, when Minna Shaw heard a noise and discovers the broom sweeping the floor all by itself.
Chris Van Allsburg’s illustrations are, as usual, absolutely stunning in their detail. The sepia-tone colors and style fit the eerie tone of the story perfectly. I have to admit that as the broom was sweeping and doing chores, I couldn’t help but think about the The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Disney.
The end of the story contains an interesting twist that will surprise most readers.
The Widow’s Broom
by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin, 1992