Julia Donaldson is the author of some of the world's best-loved
children's books, including modern classics The Gruffalo and
The Gruffalo's Child, which together have sold over 17
million copies worldwide, and the hugely successful What the
Ladybird Heard adventures. Julia also writes fiction, including the
Princess Mirror-Belle books illustrated by Lydia Monks, as well as
poems, plays and songs - and her brilliant live shows are always in
demand. She was Children's Laureate 2011-13 and has been honoured
with a CBE for Services to Literature. Julia and her husband
Malcolm divide their time between West Sussex and Edinburgh.
Axel Scheffler is a star illustrator whose instantly recognizable, warm and witty illustrations have achieved worldwide acclaim and numerous awards. In addition to his picture books, Axel is the illustrator of wonderful novelty and gift books for Macmillan, such as the bestselling The Bedtime Bear, The Tickle Book and Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes. He also illustrates the popular Pip and Posy series. Born in Hamburg, Axel now lives with his family in London.
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. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
K-Gr 3-A witch and her cat pick up a dog, a bird, and a frog, and fly off on her broomstick. The frog jumps for joy, the broomstick snaps in two, the animals land in a bog, and a dragon captures the witch. What to do? As in the Grimms' "The Bremen Town Musicians," the animals, covered in mud, stand on each other and "yowl," "growl," "croak," and "shriek," scaring the dragon and saving the witch. All's well that ends well for the witch conjures up a super broom with seats for the cat and dog, a nest for the bird, and a pool for the frog. The story is in rhyme, bouncing merrily along, full of fun, and not at all scary. The illustrations are witty and wonderful. All the characters, even the dragon, have the same goofy grin and large, round eyes. Dressed in a purple skirt, red blouse, and black cape and hat, the witch, with a long, ginger braid, is more friendly than frightening. The image of the red dragon carrying her, passed out cold, is a hoot. And her cat is not the traditional black cat; it looks more like a baby tiger. The result is a surefire read-aloud hit.-Pamela K. Bomboy, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.