First, my housework confession. I've needed to wash my laundry room floor for two weeks now because of a detergent spill. It's been on my to-do list, but I've done everything possible to avoid it. Two nights ago, I checked Broom, Zoom! out of the library and wanted to blog about it. I sternly told myself the laundry room floor came first, even though I was so anxious to talk about this book. Now here I am, laundry room floor clean and shining, so I can tell you how much I love this book.
Little Witch begins the book gazing longingly at the full moon. It's beautiful, craggy and luminous, and she wants to explore it. She goes inside to get a broom, but Little Monster is using it. There's been a spill, and Little Witch and Little Monster must work together to clean it up before going for a ride. The first two sentences in this descriptive paragraph have twenty unique words giving you the plot of the story. Broom, Zoom! tells the whole story with just 18 unique words! And this limited vocabulary is composed of one syllable words, many of them sight words. This makes Broom, Zoom! perfect for very new readers to read independently, once they've read it through with a more accomplished reader (there are words like Yikes! that a new reader may not recognize on the first trip through). The plot does not suffer at all from the tight vocabulary - it is charming and inventive. The story is told primarily through dialogue between Little Witch and Little Monster, who must work together to solve both of their need for the same broom. This promotes successful teamwork and problem solving as well - again, all with 18 unique words. Amazing.
Book design is also key to the success of this book. The dialogue is clear because of its placement on the page, near the character who is talking. There is only one line per page, eliminating the need for extra words such as "Little Witch said" or "Little Monster exclaimed". Interestingly enough, you don't even discover the characters' names in the actual story, but they are located on the jacket flap (which is how I know that green guy up there is a monster and not an alien!)
Ruzzier's illustrations are digitally produced, allowing for smooth black lines and deeply saturated color. The pictures are simple, without a lot of extra touches, which might distract early readers from the text. Ruzzier also gives hints to the readers in the illustrations - for example, the witch makes an "oooo" of delight on the first page, and her mouth is a corresponding O, letting readers know how to read the word with expression. Although the characters are a witch and a monster, they are not scary at all. On the contrary, they are friendly and mostly smile through the book (with the monster's charming crooked teeth overhanging his mouth).
And while this book is about a witch and a monster and the moon, it is definitely not a Halloween book. They do not reference the holiday at all, making it a wonderful book for sharing and reading at any time during the year.
If you can't already tell, I think this is a terrific book. We will be asking for our own copy for Christmas, and I can only hope the Geisel committee has taken notice of it. It deserves an award. Well done!
Cohen, Caron Lee. Broom, Zoom!, ill by Sergio Ruzzier. Simon & Schuster, 2010. checked out from the Lewis & Clark Library.