There's always room for one more on this affable witch's broomstick... or is there? In another mild-mannered tale from the creators of the Smarties Prize-winning picture book, The Gruffalo
, a witch and her happily purring cat fly through the wind on their broomstick, without a care in the world, until the witch's black hat blows away. In the process of retrieving it, they pick up another passenger, a polite and helpful dog. All goes well until the witch's hair bow flies off. And then her wand. And then real disaster strikes--in the shape of a big red dragon, a broken broom, and some very important (but notably absent) friends. Julia Donaldson's story, though not earthshaking in plot or rhyme, is a pleasant way to pass the time leading up to the witching hour (Halloween!) especially when paired with the friendly illustrations by Axel Scheffler. Readers will especially love the final illustration, in which our heroes solve their space problems once and for all. (Ages 4 to 7) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
In this lightweight, witty story, helpful animals find "room on the broom" of a generous witch. At first, a striped cat accompanies the cheerful sorceress: "How the cat purred/ and how the witch grinned,/ As they sat on their broomstick/ and flew through the wind." Next, a spotted dog retrieves the witch's flyaway black hat and asks to come aboard. The three riders soon welcome a green parrot (who finds the witch's lost hair ribbon) and a frog (who rescues her wand from the bottom of a pond). When threatened by a dragon, the loyal animals form a "Brementown Musicians" chimera whose "terrible voice,/ when it started to speak,/ was a yowl and a growl/ and a croak and a shriek." The witch repays them by conjuring a cushier vehicle. Donaldson and Scheffler, previously paired for The Gruffalo, emphasize the airborne animals' contentment and evoke sympathy for the broom's driver. In Scheffler's comical panels and insets, the witch has a warty nose and lace-up boots, but wears a pleasant smile; Donaldson puts a spooky/silly spin on the folktale format. The metrical rhyme and goofy suspense aren't groundbreaking, but readers will likely find it refreshing to see a witch playing against type. Ages 4-8.
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