CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 9. . . .November 4, 2016
The Wish Tree.
Kyo Maclear. Pictures by Chris Turnham.
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2014/2016.
40 pp., hardcover, $23.99.
Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 3-5.
Review by Roxy Garstad.
Slow, slow through the snow they went.
And hush, hush, past Bear’s den they crept.
Where Charles went Boggan followed.
Where Boggan went Charles followed.
They did not see a wish tree anywhere.
But they did see…
Beaver, who was busy
gathering birch wood
to bring to his lodge.
The Wish Tree follows a little boy, Charles, and his animate sleigh friend, Boggan (from “toboggan”), on a quest to find a wish tree. As they search through the nearby forest and meadow, they encounter various friendly animals, all experiencing difficulty moving their winter caches of food. Boggan swiftly comes to their aide, hauling nuts for Squirrel, wood for Beaver, and berries for Fox. Just when Charles is about to give up hope on finding the wish tree, their new animal friends (and more picked up along the way) join the quest. Charles and Boggan celebrate their success on finding the wish tree by feasting on delicious forest foods with their new friends.
Maclear’s writing touches on several common tropes found in children’s literature, such as the hero quest, the animal helper, and the animation of objects, and she does so in a creative and invigorating way reminiscent of other great children’s authors, such as J. K. Rowling. The story feels as fresh as a new snowfall. But, unlike Rowling, the fact that there is little peril, despite a potential for grave danger, opens the story up to the youngest of audiences. The winter theme will only add to its potential as the season’s greatest storytime contender, the images capturing that long, quintessentially Canadian scene so well. Many of the illustrated characters, especially those shown at the night feast, are reminiscent of classic Golden Book figures. Fine detail and exquisite use of colour make these pages a feast for the eyes.
The Wish Tree is sure to be another hit by the author of the award-winning Virginia Wolf. This heartwarming tale is a must-have for all children’s book collections.
Roxy Garstad is the Collection Librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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