Allison's Book Bag

Introducing Broomsticks!

Posted on: May 8, 2011

Who remembers Bewitched, the popular television series about a witch who married a mortal? Or who remembers Sabrina, a television series based on the Archie comics about a teenage witch? Broomsticks by new writing team Katie McHugh Parker and Sean McHugh brings back fond memories of both of these popular sitcoms with its cute and fun story about an nine-year-old witch.

Publicity photo of Elizabeth Montgomery and Pa...

Publicity photo of Elizabeth Montgomery and Paul Lynde from Bewitched, 1968. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Critics probably don’t consider either of these shows outstanding. Nor will critics likely recognize Broomsticks as great literature. They are to be enjoyed for the light entertainment that they are, for their whimsy and silliness, despite their flaws.Sabrina the Teenage Witch also came to my mind as I read Broomsticks. When viewers first meet Sabrina, she is sixteen and just discovering she is a witch. Both girls struggle to understand their supernatural identities but also how to handle human dilemmas such as making friends, standing up to bullies, and relating to boys. When readers are introduced to Pocky, she is attending a new school, where she encounters snobbish peers but also meets two new friends. In one of her classes, she’s also drawn to a cute boy with a goatee  (or is it a chocolate milk mustache?) who helps her practice magic while she teaches him about friendship.

Pocky’s magical abilities seem inconsistent. In the opening chapter, Pocky simply waves or snaps her fingers, along with sometimes giving a command, and suddenly her suitcase opens and clothes float across the room. Yet later when she meets Stamp, while levitation is still a skill she demonstrates, she seems inept at pretty much most magic. An earlier acknowledgement of Pocky’s amateurish powers might have helped.

Some of the minor characters are familiar stock. The rich snobs (the boys are known collectively as “Biff” and the girls as “Buffy”) seem to exist just so the book can have bullies. On her first visit to the cafeteria, Pocky asks a group of boys if she can sit at their table. The blonde says “No” and the others laugh. While this incident serves to introduce a boy whom Pocky’s friend Maggie has a crush on, it seems odd. Why is she even asking boys if she can sit with them?

As for the writing, it could be tighter and more descriptive: “Gave an angry stare” could become “glared”.  Instead of writing “colorfully dressed,” the authors could indicate the colors or the style of outfits.  Also, powerful verbs such as “roared,” “growled,” “shrieked,” and “squealed” were so frequently used that they lost their impact.

Portrait of Melissa Joan Hart at her Sweet Har...

Image via Wikipedia

Those of us who are fans of supernatural sitcoms are well aware of their flaws. We don’t love our entertainment because it is perfect. We love how Samantha can wrinkle her nose and perform magic, along with her sweetness and remarkable ability to both get into and out of trouble. While Sabrina didn’t wrinkle her nose, we love how she also had a penchant for trouble but remained cheerful, helpful, and resourceful. Broomsticks follows in the tradition of these shows, creating a likeable female character that differs from the rest of us by being a witch in a mortal world.

Pocky finds that her powers can be fun, such as when she flies the night skies with Stamp. Her powers can also land  her in  trouble, such as when she levitates her teacher. They also can serve practical purposes, such as when she rescues her friend from a bully. Actually, Pocky isn’t the only likeable character. Her friend Maggie chatters on like a bird in love. Stamp is every conflicted boy who wants to be tough but also wishes to have friends. He is awkward about it, but has forgiving females to help him.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

Like candy hearts, Broomsticks is a delightful treat with cute written all over it. I love how Stamp’s parents came up with his name, how Pocky bares her soul to a cat or later turns her hairbrush into ice-cream that would be delicious if not for the hair in it, and how Stamp explains art-hopping to Pocky. In many ways, Broomsticks also reminds me of The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. That delightful book led to a series, which it looks as if Broomsticks will too. (Read my interview with the Katie McHugh Parker and Sean McHugh for more info.)

Whatever the critics might think, Bewitched is still seen in syndication worldwide, and TV Guide listed it among their top fifty shows of all time. Similarly, while Broomsticks might not win any literary awards, it is selling out at book signings—and  for good reason.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

12 Responses to "Introducing Broomsticks!"

Thanks again for hosting us, Allison! We had a great time and your blog looks great!

Thanks Katie and Sean for including me in your book tour, despite this being my first experience with one. I appreciated your quick responses, along with your patience and enthusiasm. I also learned plenty, including how to link to Amazon for book purchases. All the best with your sales of Broomsticks!

Allison, well you summed it up pretty good with your last paragraph stating “whatever the critics might think”. Who cares about critics? Bewitched is still in syndication 47 years after it started on TV. Forty seven years! Perhaps Broomsticks might not win any national awards, although, don’t count them out yet. Happiness. Isn’t that what it is all about? If they make someone happy, if they bring a smile to a child-no matter what age, if they bring some magic into someone’s life. That is the most important thing whatever critics such as yourself might think.

Wow! Looks like we have some hard-core “Broomsticks” fans out there… or “Bewitched” fans. Either way, Bob, thank you for the kind words about our book. I thought Allison’s review was pretty balanced and ended positively. Still, it’s always nice to know people are rooting for us! We appreciate your support and thank you for posting!

Wonderful to hear from both fans of Broomsticks and of Bewitched! I grew up watching and loving all kinds of supernatural shows, but still prefer lighter ones such as Bewitched. It’s wonderful for us fans that networks like TV Land still airs older shows.

As for books, fantasy for young people is my favorite genre to read. Is it any wonder I leapt at the chance to review Broomsticks and meet its authors? I’m happy to hear how popular Broomsticks is with its intended age group. Fans might also like The Best Witch, which I mentioned in my review. Both books are cute and worth checking out.

Thank you, Allison! I’m glad you had as much fun as we did being here! Thank you for having us!

Also.. Did you ever read ‘The Trouble with Miss Switch?” I think that’s the title. She’s a school teacher by day and witch by night and two of her students help her defeat a bad witch …iffin my memory serves me!

No, I haven’t read it. Yes, that’s the title. 🙂 Sounds fun!

I think Broomsticks is a breath of fresh air to the world of children’s books. By leaving out such details as the colors Pocky was wearing leaves a child the ability to imagine on their own. I cannot wait for the second book. I thought it was well written and my daughter loves it.

Thank you, Rick! I’m so glad your daughter liked it. I hope she’ll enjoy our second book this fall! Thank you so much for your kind review and thank you for posting!

Kinda dumb when ya state that critics don’t consider Bewitched one of the “outstanding” shows. Perhaps you should try watching it again and take into consideration it broke the color barriers, lasted 8 years (going from the Black and white world of Donna Reed to the hip and groovy world of Marsha Brady), was the first sitcom to ever go on location AND put Salem Mass. on the map as a huge tourist destination. Among ither rather large milestones for its day.

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