The Widow's Broom

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Widow's Broom Book Poster Image
Shivery story with a surprise ending.

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Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

The broom knocks two boys on the head, and throws their dog in the air. The ghost of the broom carries an ax.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this atmospheric story, accompanied by Van Allsburg's usual magnificent artwork, has an ending twist that delights kids.

User Reviews

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Kid, 11 years old November 9, 2011

great book that might scare super young kids

A great story, but its more scary elements might creep down to the bones of younger children. A good toddler to preteen book if they like amazingly illustrated... Continue reading

What's the story?

A witch leaves behind a broom that can't fly anymore, but it can still do chores for the lonely widow who befriends it. But the neighbors think it's evil and want to destroy it. Spectacular sepia-toned illustrations highlight this shivery story with a surprise ending.


Is it any good?

The big attraction in Chris Van Allsburg's books is his stunning illustrations, but this is one of his better stories as well. Reminiscent of an entry in the old "Amazing Stories" TV series, this pleasantly atmospheric tale has a twist at the end that delights kids with the satisfaction of seeing overbearing bullies get their due through the cleverness of the meek.

The full-page pictures are done in textured shades of gray that give the impression of sepia-tone art. The style is reminiscent of the one he used in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, but grainier. Some of them are cinematically dramatic, such as the picture of the witch looking to the skies, lit by flames, while others, such as a scene of surprised chickens being fed by the broom, are funny.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the neighbors' distrust and fear of the broom. Although the broom has not caused any harm, why do they want to destroy it?

Book details

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