Mary Norton •
Bed-Knob and Broomstick •
Elderly Miss Price is still a witch in training, and would rather not be observed as she struggles to master broomstick riding and practices techniques from Six Easy Curses for Beginners. But when Carey (who is “about your age”), Charles, and Paul learn her secret one summer, she doesn’t have the heart to put a spell on them. Instead, she bribes them to secrecy with the gift of an enchanted bed-knob.
Flying bedstead, however, proves to be a somewhat awkward mode of travel. Miss Price, ever sensible, packs the bed with sandwiches, a pith helmet, and her father’s sword before they go whirling off. Despite her precautions, the magical adventures turn out as terrifying as they are thrilling. Miss Price lands in a cannibal stew pot, and the three children get apprehended by the police (although six-year-old Paul says gamely, “I like prisons like this”).
After a slight miscalculation takes them to 17th-century London on the eve of the Great Fire, the children decide to bring back a . . . visitor. “I do think this is thoughtless of you,” tuts Miss Price. “There you go picking up strange necromancers who you know perfectly well have to be taken home again.”
Mary Norton works her own magic in these two delightful tales brimming with narrow escapes, intrasubstantiary locomotion, and stuffed alligators.