Thursday, May 17, 2012

Broomsticks by Sean McHugh & Katie McHugh Parker

Release date: October 4, 2010
Publisher: Diversion Press, Inc.
Format: Paperback
Pages: 66
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Pocky McGuire has no idea why she is different. No one else in her family can levitate books or freeze and angry dog in his tracks. She felt alone in the world until one day she met a strange boy with a goatee. Unlike Pocky, Stamp had no doubt who he was. He was raised by witches and he was a witch. Upon meeting Stamp, Pocky hoped to befriend her magical counterpart and learn a few tricks of the trade. Stamp, however, wanted no part of anything or anyone mortal, including Pocky. Will it take magic to bring these two kindred spirits together? The real magic of Broomsticks is not about the witchcraft It is about the magic found in a special friendship and the magic of being yourself.

Broomsticks came onto my radar in a very interesting way for me. In Disney World, I worked at a restaurant in Animal Kingdom. The full and part time cast members were always curious about what those of us in the college program were studying in school and what we were planning on doing. One of them, named Stephen, asked me those questions, and I told him that I'm studying English and hope to go into publishing. He then told me about some family friends--the authors of Broomsticks--who had written and published a book. He told me he'd bring me the book, an offer I took him up on. So I read it and was VERY pleasantly surprised!

I find most middle grade books too young to hold my attention, but this was different. The writing was simple enough for a very young person to enjoy, but it was also a decently sophisticated story with a lot of substance that I really enjoyed reading. Pocky and Stamp are likable and sweet characters that deal with problems middle grade readers are just finding themselves in. There are lessons to be learned without being preachy or cheesy.

The writing itself is inexpert, though workable for a young audience. I had to remind myself that the book was written for middle grade readers, rather than an older group. I almost would've liked the book to be longer, so the progression felt more natural, but I understand the reasoning for a shorter book. It could have done with a bit more editing to be a bit less wordy and unspecific, but that didn't particularly detract.

Risk a paper cut? With solid, endearing characters, a fun idea, and a good message, Broomsticks is truly a middle grade novel that deserves some attention. You or your favorite kid will enjoy the light, quick read.

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