Here is the next in my occasional series of Mary Stewart quotations and excerpts. Since the release in Japan earlier this month of animated film Mary and the Witch’s Flower, I have been thinking about the Mary Stewart children’s book on which it is based: The Little Broomstick . As I mentioned in my July bulletin, the new paperback issue of The Little Broomstick is not due out in the UK until 5 October [UPDATE: now due out on 5 April 2018], which may, perhaps, coincide with the film release here. To help fill the Broomstick void until October, here is ten-year-old Mary meeting Tib the cat for the very first time:
Then suddenly, neat and quiet and graceful as a dancer, there strolled into the middle of the path a small black cat.
He was completely black from ears to tail-tip; his toes were black, and his whiskers, and the aristocratic eyebrow-hairs that stood above his green, green eyes.
He stood in the very middle of the path, and he looked at Mary. Then his mouth opened to show a triangle of pink tongue and very white teeth, and he made a remark.
Probably a very ordinary remark, thought Mary, like ‘How do you do?’ or ‘Nice day, isn’t it?’ But the cat obviously expected an answer, so she said: ‘How do you do? My name’s Mary Smith. What’s yours?’
The cat made no reply. There were more important things, obviously, to do. He turned his back on Mary, with his tail held politely in the air, and walked away down the path, deeper into the wood. But he walked, not as if he were leaving her, but as if he wanted her to follow him.
What deliciously magical writing! Here is the start of adventure, and an end to loneliness, for Mary. I hope the film can capture at least some of the enchantment of this spellbinding children’s novel.
Have you read The Little Broomstick? Are you keen to watch Mary and the Witch’s Flower? Leave a comment to let me know your views.
Want to pre-order a copy of the paperback edition of The Little Broomstick, due out 5 October 2017 in the UK? Here are some options: