Falling in love again with an old classic

posted in: Axel Scheffler, Julia Donaldson | 6

What “classic” picture books have you read so often that the magic in them now doesn’t sparkle so bright?

roomonthebroomWith some regret, I have to admit that many of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture books fall in to that category for me, so it was an utter treat to be able to cast off years of sleepy, sometimes begrudging bed time reads and find myself utterly beguiled by Room on the Broom this last week.

The animation of Room on the Broom by Magic Light Pictures (originally created as a BBC TV Christmas special) is released today on DVD (and from tomorrow will be available as a HD download). I was kindly sent an advance copy to review and the entire family has been entranced by this magical retelling.

What struck me most was the wonderful way Magic Light Pictures took the original story and text and built on it. Don’t get me wrong, the animation remains respectfully loyal to Donaldson’s text, and Scheffler’s illustration, but at the same time, it is an inspired retelling, filling in all sorts of back stories, spinning off all sorts of other ideas. It’s an example par excellence of how illustrations in successful picture books (have the possibility to) tell so many more stories than that found in the text alone.

I’d love to use this film with older children to inspire creative writing. I’d read them the original Room on the Broom, then show this film. Then I’d ask them to choose a familiar picture book and think of how they could add details, suggested, but not made explicit, by the text or images. I think many older kids would really relish the opportunity to return to picture books and be “given permission” to enjoy them again.

The DVD could also be used to inspire kids to make music scores to accompany their favourite books or to design/film book trailers. You could use the free SoundJunction website, or one of the tools available here. I’d also introduce the 90 Second Newbery film festival, a video contest in which film makers of any age make films that tell the entire story of an award-winning children’s book in 90 seconds or less.

But of course you could also just snuggle up on the sofa with the youngest of kids (or the most jaded of bedtime book readers) and simply enjoy 25 minutes of drama, laughter and great friendship.

For a flavour of the animation you can watch the original BBC trailer.

The DVD (and download) contains the film, a very twinkly Julia Donaldson acting out Room on the Broom with a group of primary school children (very inspiring for school assemblies!), and a fascinating behind-the-scenes film with the animators, composer and other colleagues working for Magic Light Pictures. At £9.99 it’s not cheap per minute of viewing, and it’s currently only on UK release but if you can get hold of a copy I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

For more information please visit www.roomonthebroom.com

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this DVD for review. I was under no obligation to review it, nor did I receive any payment for this post.

6 Responses

  1. Mrs Brown

    I love your idea for older children and creative writing. In fact, I wish I had a few hours to myself today so I could give it a go myself! I think it’s reassuring when animation can add new life to a classic. Books their animated counterparts don’t have to be mutually exclusive but so often are.
    Mrs Brown recently posted..For the love of reading …

  2. Zoe

    Hi Library Mice – Yes it is great for adapting with young kids, and watching Donaldson do it on this DVD brings home how easy it is.

    Mrs Brown, I hope you find the time to try imagining the back story for a character introduced in the illustrations – let me know how you get on.

    Gisele – love the broom!

    Jen – yeah, it’s worth it, but the suppliers told me no plans to produce it for outside UK markets (do Japanese DVDs have a different format to UK ones?) – and as I don’t do downloads I don’t know how that could work for you… but good luck getting hold of it!
    Zoe recently posted..Falling in love again with an old classic

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