Room on the Broom
Room on the Broom
Being asked to choose your favourite Julia Donaldson book is like trying to pick your favourite song: it's impossible because there are so many brilliant ones, and it depends on what mood you're in.
Room on the Broom is a classic. We read it countless times when my daughter was around 18 months, to the extent that, three years later, I still have it memorised. She hasn't requested it for a while, so I could tell she needed reassurance the other night when she wanted it at bedtime. I was suddenly reminded of how brilliant it is - the flawless rhythm and rhyme scheme, the clever plan the animals hatch, the moral of loyalty repaying kindness. And of course Axel Scheffler's beautiful illustrations. My favourite page is where they are flying over the reeds and rivers, as I love herons. If you don't have a copy at home you can listen to the story here.
Not just for Hallowe'en
We obviously associate witches with Hallowe'en, but the illustrations in the book suggest a summer setting, the trees replete with green leaves. In Sweden, witches are associated with Easter, as traditionally children dress up as witches and go door-to-door bringing Easter greetings (and hoping for treats!) Perhaps you and your little one could use this as an excuse to dress up as witches over the coming days. Kind ones of course, like in Room on the Broom. Instead of a pointy hat, try a headscarf and a long skirt, which is more in keeping with the Scandinavian tradition.
You can also make a magic wand to go with your costume. Find a stick in the garden, tie some wool around it, and top with a paper star. Hunt around to find some 'charms' to tie on, e.g. leaves, feathers, daisies etc. And of course, a witch needs a cauldron (an empty yoghurt pot?) in which to brew her potions! This is the best bit. You could dig up some mud and mix it with water (or just use water if you don't fancy making too much mess). Add some pieces of grass, leaves, or even those bits that you've found at the back of the baking cupboard that are three years out of date.
They threw them all in and the witch stirred them well,
And while she was stirring she muttered a spell.
Can you make up your own spell? What does it do? This is a great chance for little ones to use their imaginations.
Take it further
If you want to get really messy, you could recreate the mud monster scene, by finding some plastic animals, burying them in your digging patch, and then balancing them on top of each other to make some scary creatures!
Older children could also get involved by designing their own ideal broom. What would you include? A mini fridge for snacks? A games console? Sat nav? Where would you fly to?
There's a full moon in the story, so you could use this as a starting point to do some moon-spotting (and some biscuit decorating!) If you've been to a Little Explorer's session you'll know we're fond of digestives, and I'm afraid I've been raiding the tin. We used a round cutter to stamp out shapes of white fondant to represent the different phases of the moon, and stuck them on the biscuits with melted chocolate. We talked about the different phases, before scoffing half of them!
Have fun and get those imaginations flying!