Thursday, October 3, 2013

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Rating: 5 stars

I was so excited to find this book in Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago.  I read the board book version, then went home and ordered the book through our trusty local library.  I was ready to shout from the hilltops about how great the book is, until I found and got a flashback from Spaceballs the movie.

There is a Room on the Broom website.  There is a Room on the Broom activity book.  There is a Room on the Broom T-shirt.  There is a Room on the Broom board game.  There is a Room on the Broom stuffed animal.  There is a Room in the Broom play.  There is a Room on the Broom puzzle set.

Oh.  You mean this book has been out a while?  Like, I'm the last one on earth to discover it?  I see.

Still, I've got to tell you about it, in case you're behind me in the yet-to-discover-it line.

Better than the list of consumer items above, here's the proof that this book is great: I read it to my multi-age trio--ages 2, 4, and 6--and they were all spellbound.  The rhythm of the rhyme rollicks along, inviting anyone in the room to stop what they're doing and listen.  The huge illustrations and the rhyme itself help with predictions, and little Kiefer could easily fill in the blank and finish the stanza.

How it is written is fantastic and impressive.  But what the story is about is even better: Karma.

Yep, that's right.  Karma.  Every kid should know about it!

Here's the truly magnificent broom!
The witch and her cat fly along, and one at a time things drop from her cute, spooky outfit.  And one at a time an animal down below helps her find it.  She drops her hat; a dog picks it up.  She drops her bow; a bird flies to return it.  She drops her wand; a frog lifts it from the bog for her.  After an item is returned from her, the animal asks if he can join her and the cat on the broom.  She says, unequivocally and without any annoying "only if you're good" statements: "YES!"  Delighted, they hop on.

But a hop is where they get into trouble: the frog hops out of excitement, and the broom breaks!

Down they all go, into the territory of a fire-breathing dragon.  The dragon quickly catches the witch and is about to eat her up when he spots a terrible animal rising from the mud with four heads and four different sounds coming from it.  This creature demands the dragon to return the witch.  He's so frightened that he does, and flies away quickly.  As soon as he's gone, the four animals hop down and wash themselves off--and the grateful witch thanks them.

She was kind to let them ride her broom, and they save her life.  Karma.

With the animals' help, she concocts a brew and a magic spell (what's a Halloween book without a little abra-cadabra?) to make a "truly sensational broom," with fancy seats for the cat and dog, a nest for the bird, and a pool for the frog.

This is a great, great book--a winner of a gift to any child or family that loves Halloween.  But you probably already know about it.

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