cover image When Wishes Were Horses

When Wishes Were Horses

Cynthia Voigt. Greenwillow, $18.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-299692-3

In this gentle, thoughtful tale, four children are unexpectedly granted two wishes each. Notice arrives in the form of an envelope containing two sheets of gray tissue paper and a note reading “ONE WISH AT A TIME. WHISPER IT TO ME. BE WISE.” Bug wishes for a skateboard but soon discovers that it doesn’t afford him the happiness he expected. Zoe, tired and frustrated by her parents’ constant arguing and their inability to see how it affects her, wishes for an end to the “Ugly Fights.” Though her wish seemingly comes true, her family continues to fall apart in other ways. Casey chafes against her hardworking mother’s prickly nature and impulsively wishes for a dog she knows she won’t be allowed to keep. And Billy uses his wish to summon a unicorn to be his friend. Though the entries briefly overlap, Newbery Medalist Voigt (Toaff’s Way) presents each child’s story as a self-contained narrative. The all-knowing narration creates distance from the reader and adds mystique to the wishes and their origins, making for a modern fairy tale that capitalizes on ambiguity and mystery. Characters are depicted on the cover with varying skin tones. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)