Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton

Bedknob and Broomstick cover

Until I picked this book up in an Aberdeenshire secondhand bookshop recently I had no idea that Bedknob and Broomstick had been written by Mary Norton (of The Borrowers fame). It was first published in 1945 and although I’ve only seen short excerpts of the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks, I think it’s fair to say that it must be very loosely based on the book. It was obviously written in wartime although it doesn’t really come into the story, the three children Carey, Charles and Paul have been sent to live with an old aunt who lives in Bedfordshire. This must have been a normal experience for many children in those days as fathers were off in the services and their mothers were also doing war work. It fits the perfect children’s book scenario, get rid of those annoying parents.

The house is old and square with a large hall and the children are quite intimidated by it. They’re also rather shy of their aunt and the old housemaid, but the garden is wonderful and even has a river running through it. The children have a whale of a time, they’re well behaved and all their days are alike – until they meet Miss Price. She’s an elderly lady who gets about on her bicycle, she’s very ladylike and teaches piano for a living, but in her spare time she’s a bit of a white witch. She’s really just a beginner at it and when the children find her in pain lying on the ground in local woodland it transpires that she has sprained her ankle as she has fallen off her broomstick!

She obviously needs more practice. Miss Price needs the children to keep quiet about her witchcraft, the locals wouldn’t understand, so she puts a spell on Paul’s bedknob so that when he twists it the bed will wheech them all anywhere in the world – or even into the past.

This book is aimed at children over the age of eight – I think I fit that description!

8 thoughts on “Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton

  1. I can’t remember if I ever read this book, but I loved and read the Borrowers books – and searched our house for any places I thought the Borrowers might live! I recently saw the Disney movie of Bedknob and Broomstick. Eh, so, so.

  2. I loved the film as a child but I’ve never thought about reading the book and didn’t realise it was by Mary Norton either. The war played a huge part in the film, so it does sound as though it must have only been loosely based on the book.

    • Helen,
      I’ll definitely watch the film the next time it’s on TV then. The only bit of the film I’ve seen is the undersea bits and although they went to an island they weren’t under the water.

  3. Although I knew that Mary Norton had written this one, I have never read it, obviously to my inner child’s detriment! It sounds delightful, and you’ve described the setting so well, I wish it were in my house right now. Oh, Kindle, come hither!

    • Judith,
      I seem to have inadvertently embarked on a Puffin book collecting phase so the Kindle version wouldn’t hit the spot for me, very handy if you can’t get to secondhand bookshops fairly easily though. I head for the kid’s book section first – second childhood possibly!

      • Well, Katrina, I know I quote my mother a lot, but she always maintained, “Some of the best literature has been written for children.”
        And I, too, head for the children’s area first at good library used book sales.

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