"Witches' brooms don't last forever. They grow old, and even the best of them, one day, lose the power of flight.... On very rare occasions, however, a broom can lose its power without warning, and fall, with its passenger, to the earth below ... which is just what happened one cold autumn night many years ago." So begins The Widow's Broom, the gentle, strangely captivating book by Chris Van Allsburg, who received Caldecott medals for Jumanji and The Polar Express.
The story gets under way when the lonely widow Minna Shaw finds a wounded, sky-fallen witch in her vegetable garden. The witch disappears before dawn, but leaves her old, presumably defunct broom behind. Minna begins to use it around the house and finds that "it was no better or worse than brooms she'd used before." However, one morning, Minna sees the broom sweeping by itself! Opportunistically, she trains it to chop wood and fetch water.
When the neighbors find out about this "wicked, wicked thing" (posing as an innocent, hardworking broom), they accost the widow and demand that the broom be burned. Are they successful in separating the lonely widow and her diligently sweeping friend? This is a wonderfully suspenseful book to read aloud and young listeners will earnestly hope for the broom's survival. Still, older, wiser readers, ages 8 and older, will be swept up in the story, too.