It's a witch's broom, but it's old and loses the power to fly, dumping its owner in the Widow Shaw's garden. When the witch departs, the broom stays with the widow, who at first is frightened when it not only sweeps but chops wood and feeds chickens; but she comes to appreciate it. Not so neighbor Spivey, a classic seeker after evil to rout out. With other farmers, Spivey comes one night to get rid of the broom; reluctantly, the widow tells them where it is and they literally burn it at the stake. Later, she reports seeing the broom's ghost. In a deliciously enigmatic ending, the broom proves to be alive and well--but whether by its own power or the widow's wits is left to surmise. In the b&w technique of his earliest books, Van Allsburg uses subtly graduated gray and cream to bring out the eerie, surreal quality of the story, his spare detail setting it in a credulous past--though the message about the destructive fear aroused by mavericks is universal. One of Van Allaburg's best: an intriguing, well-told tale with elegantly structured art, resonant with significance and lightened with sly humor.