Julia Donaldson, Author , illus. by Axel Scheffler. Dial $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-2657-4

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.)

Reviewed on: 09/10/2001
Release date: 00/00/0000
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