cover image I Wish

I Wish

Christoph Niemann. Greenwillow, $19.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-0632-1979-3

Coming upon a gift box wrapped in yellow paper and a purple ribbon, a round-headed child with paper-white skin and two animated pigtails shakes it vigorously, gives a brief prayer of hope, and tears into the wrapping paper. But the contents remain elusive throughout this high-concept picture book: after two more layers of paper and ribbon, the package’s third iteration—cherry red paper with a turquoise ribbon—seems to become, itself, a character. It morphs into apparel, including a superhero cape that enables the child to rescue a bunny from a burning building; it transforms into a series of animal companions, such as a pony; and it turns into a globe that seems to transport the child into a galaxy of gift-wrapped orbs. Finally, it becomes a pillow so the hitherto indefatigable child can sleep... and dream of the next present to come. All this unfolds against a crisp white background on a largely single plane, with the vignettes rendered in the creator’s signature thick black lines, limited palette, and minimal detailing. What does it all mean? Niemann (One Minute Till Bedtime) leaves that open to the reader—a gift itself to eager young imaginations. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)