The best books with magical brooms (that aren’t Harry Potter)

There’s a groovy website (fairly) new to the book-review game called Shepard and one of the things that I enjoy about it is the featured lists—especially those by authors!

Inspired by the process of writing my own book, Spell Sweeper, I compiled a list of middle-grade books that feature magical brooms that aren’t Harry Potter (I’ve met more than one young reader—and some older ones, too—who assume Rowling is the inventor of flying broomsticks, as well other fantasy tropes, such as magical schools and owls as familiars)!

You can check out my list here—and, of course, if you have read Spell Sweeper, you already know that the brooms in that book are definitely not for flying!

Me flying.
Me trying to fly a broom—emphasis on the word “trying.”

Speaking of Spell Sweeper and Shepherd, I was thrilled to see that my book made it onto its own list: The best middle-grade books with fantastically fun ensemble casts. (Thank you to author Kerelyn Smith for including it! You should check out her delightful fantasy book, Mulrox and the Malcognitos!)

Check it out!


Sparking creativity in students at Southpointe

I wrapped up a writer-in-residency at a local school, Southpointe Academy, in April. It seems like a lifetime ago because, since then, my family has moved homes for the first time in eighteen years (more on that in a future post, I imagine!).

I’ve now had time to reflect on the residency and look back at some of the photos from my week at the school. We accomplished a lot of writing and storytelling!

I was asked to develop a plan for K-5 and so came up with a different project for each grade. 

Kindergarteners: Costuming a Character 

Grade 1s: Magical Boxes

Grade 2s: Enchanted Trees

Grade 3s: Secret Doorways

Grade 4s: A Spellbinding Shopping Trip

Grade 5s: Lost in the Library

I kicked off the week with one general presentation to the entire school, which allowed me to introduce myself—and my philosophy—so that I didn’t have to repeat this each time I visited the specific classrooms.

The fantastic aspect of a residency is that I get to spend multiple blocks with the same class. In general, the system was the same: enter the classroom, introduce the project with some brainstorming and scene starters, then follow up in additional sessions with more specific writing advice, presentation, and an in-depth Q & A.

Of course, the format was tweaked depending on the age.

Another positive to spending an entire week at the school was that I could set up my museum of artifacts in the library and students could come view them throughout the week for extra inspiration. 

Finally, the school asked me to write a story about them during my time there and I did just that. This turned out to be a lot of fun, and I ended up writing about an imagined misadventure with the Grade 5 classroom’s mascot, Yorick the skeleton.

Afterward, I was happy to receive these kind words from Southpointe’s writing coordinator:  

“Everyone at our school loved having Lee as our Author-In-Residence, as he is such an engaging and inspirational writer and teacher! He connected with all our students from K to Grade 5 who loved his fun, interactive workshops, which focused on making the writing process accessible to all! I would recommend Lee without hesitation.”

Verity Pritchard
Southpointe Academy

More info about my residencies can be found on my website.