The Widow's Broom

( 9 )

Overview


A widow finds herself in possession of an extraordinary broom left by a witch who fell into the widow's garden.

A witch's worn-out broom serves a widow well, until her neighbors decide the thing is wicked and dangerous.

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Overview


A widow finds herself in possession of an extraordinary broom left by a witch who fell into the widow's garden.

A witch's worn-out broom serves a widow well, until her neighbors decide the thing is wicked and dangerous.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Van Allsburg explores the nature of good and evil in this unearthly tale of a witch's broom that has fallen from the sky with its witch still on it . . . Enchanting." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"...you won't be able to put this broom away any more than Minna Shaw could. It will sweep the boards twelve months of the year." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"...will evoke pleasurable shudders..." Publishers Weekly

"...Althought not strictly for Halloween, may turn out to be as much a part of that holiday as Polar Express is of Christmas." School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Minna Shaw comes into possession of a witch's broom, it is as if good fortune itself has dropped from the sky. The broom sweeps on its own and does other chores; it can even pick out simple tunes on the piano. The widow's ignorant neighbors hate and torment the implement, though, fearing what they cannot understand; but in the end the widow and her broom triumph. This resonant tale, one of its gifted author/illustrator's most impressive efforts, effectively draws on mystery and whimsy alike--both human nature and the supernatural are powerful forces here. Van Allsburg's grainy, sepiatone illustrations variously evoke brooding, suspicion, grandeur, humor and serenity. Many individual pictures are haunting--amid a tangle of squash vines, for example, lies the fallen witch, with only one of her hands visible--and in composite they reverberate powerfully indeed. The narrative's subtle conclusion will evoke pleasurable shudders, as readers (gradually, perhaps) become aware of what has transpired. Both visually and narratively, a provocative and altogether satisfying work. All ages. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5-- This story combines trickery and magic with witches, brooms, an old widow, and her jealous neighbors. A witch leaves her errant broom in Minna Shaw's garden and, true to its nature, it sweeps and sweeps and sweeps until the woman in desperation, teaches it to chop wood, fetch water, bring the cow from the pasture, feed the chickens, and even to play the piano. All runs smoothly until the Spiveys who live down the road discover this wonderful object and insist it must be evil. After an encounter with the Spivey children in which the broom punishes them for their misbehavior, the enraged father comes to seize the offender and destroy it. But the widow outsmarts the man, and she and her broom live happily ever after. The sepia toned pencil illustrations have a grainy quality that gives the sense of moody mystery while adding texture and detail to the tangibles of village life. The positioning of figures, the sweep of lines, and the angles and tones used to capture characters and events have a haunting sense reminiscent of Van Allsburg's early work. He does not overemphasize the message that the special powers of the unknown need not be evil; rather a delicious humor is subtly portrayed through both text and art. This story leaves readers and listeners with the satisfaction of a well-told tale and, although not strictly for Halloween, may turn out to be as much a part of that holiday as Polar Express (Houghton, 1985) is of Christmas. --Kay E. Vandergrift, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers Univ . , New Brunswick, NJ
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5--When a widow finds a talented broom than can do her chores, she can hardly believe her good fortune--until her covetous neighbors insist it must be evil. A bewitching story of trickery, jealousy, suspicion, and magic, paired with looming illustrations that subtly heighten the drama. Nov. 1992
Ilene Cooper
Van Allsburg explores the nature of good and evil in this unearthly tale of a witch's broom that has fallen from the sky with its witch still on it. Minna Shaw helps the witch, who leaves the broom behind, and it doesn't take long for the broom to show itself to be unusual. Widow Shaw spies it sweeping the floor all by itself, and though she's frightened, she quickly realizes what a help it can be. Soon she's taught it to chop wood, fetch water, feed the cow, and even plunk out a few tunes on the piano. Such an oddity doesn't stay secret for long, of course. The widow's neighbors, the Spiveys, are horrified by the devil broom. Though the broom tries to mind its own business, the Spivey boys find it the perfect object to torment. Finally, the broom knocks the boys on their heads, and when their dog tries to bite, the broom flings it across the field. As far as Mr. Spivey's concerned, the broom has proved itself evil, and he insists on burning it. Days later, the broom reappears, white as snow. A ghost broom, the widow insists, and the Spiveys pack up and leave in a frightened hurry. Once they're gone, the widow is free to enjoy the broom once more--the broom she has painted white The story starts out magnificently. The witch whom Van Allsburg depicts as handsome and powerful and her broom are perfect lures into another reality. There are also touches of humor throughout, as well as subtle reminders that evil can take many forms. It is only the ending, and the broom's inexplicable reappearance, that distract. How the broom rose from the ashes is, of course, a question readers will ponder. By not answering it, Van Allsburg wants to extend the story's ambiguity, but he merely intrudes on it. There is no ambiguity about the artwork, however. It is some of Van Allsburg's finest: oversize, sepia-tone drawings, with precise linework that has both visual clarity and intriguing nuance. "The Widow's Broom is also a handsome piece of bookmaking: the design and the paper add to the book's strength. Enchanting.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395640517
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/1992
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 121,236
  • Age range: 5 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.13 (w) x 13.25 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, as well as the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Book for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books for children, he has also been awarded the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement in children’s literature. In 1982, Jumanji was nominated for a National Book Award and in 1996, it was made into a popular feature film. Chris Van Allsburg was formerly an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.

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    1. Hometown:
      Providence, Rhode Island
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 18, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Grand Rapids, Michigan
    1. Education:
      University of Michigan College of Architecture & Design, 1972; Rhode Island School of Design, MFA, 1975
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Widow's Broom

    As I teacher I love this book. It is a great discussion piece. As always Chris Van Allsburg keeps the reader guessing even once you are finished reading. I don't know which is better his written words or his illustrations.<BR/><BR/><BR/>Although this is a "picture" book I highly recommend it to all. If you have never read any of this authors works, I suggest you do so.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Example of Stereotyping

    I definitely didn't like this story. It perpetuates a false stereotyping of Christians. Yes, Christians believe that a witch's broom is powered by the power of Satan but born again, real Christians wouldn't act the way the Christians are portrayed in this book. Liberals talk about tolerance and they tolerate everything except Christians. If the desire is to indoctrine children with that same intolerance and to perpetuate untruths about Christians, then the author is helping to accomplishing that with this book.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Stand Out

    Out of Van Allsburg's work, The Widow's Broom literally stands out. Rather than the traditional landscape format, this tall and narrow piece was published in portrait format which is seems appropriate when considering that the book is delivering the magical story of a broom. According to the cataloging information offered by the Library of Congress, The Widow's Broom is summarized as, "A witch's worn-out broom serves a widow well, until her neighbors decide the thing is wicked and dangerous." Like The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, this piece also has a black dust jacket and is adorned with black endpapers; however, in the case of The Widow's Broom, a warm brown, almost orange, color on the dust jacket and the boards give the book an autumn and Halloween-feel -- the time of year in which the story was set.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2001

    Great book

    This book is great to read to students. It holds their attention and keeps them guessing!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2000

    funny

    There was an old witch. She had an old broom.Then the witch fell down.I think that it's realy scary for little kids because the broom had an ax.But my friends and I or my grup think that its a little funny to us.I think the story is funny because the broom threw the dog. Jennifer Hernandez,Erica Ayala and Bertha Hernandez.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2000

    adventurous

    The Widow's Broom This book is about a widow that found a witche's. She told the broom to feed the chickens,milk the cows,and clean the floor. This book was a fantasy and mystery story. It was fantasy because the broom came to life. It was mystery because the broom was a spirit. Tis was a scary and interesring book. We liked the book because it was funny when the dog got the broom and the dog flew.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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