Bed-Knob and Broomstick Critical Essays

Mary Norton


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Bed-Knob and Broomstick is an excellent investigation of the human urge to explore and take risks. Carey, Charles, and Paul are curious, active children seeking to know more about the world. Having discovered one amazing fact—that Miss Price is a witch—they immediately apply that knowledge to the task of discovering more about the world. The magic bedknob is their opportunity to explore in person rather than merely through geography or history books. Their adventures begin with challenges that they are able to manage, such as the explanation to a London policeman as to why their bed is in the middle of the street outside the locked door of their own home in the middle of the night and their subsequent escape from the police station. Their explorations take them into difficulties from which they are able to extricate themselves by their own efforts; consequently, they seek more challenging adventures until they reach the limits of their abilities and Miss Price rescues them. Such adventures have their cost: Once the children exceed their own capacities and are rescued, events transpire that restrict their opportunities for further similar adventures. Small adventures lead to larger and more reckless ones until adult judgment intervenes to protect the children from harming themselves. Once their options are restricted, the children have time to reflect on their choices and how they managed them, to think about the significance of what they learned from...

(The entire section is 540 words.)