cover image 9 MAGIC WISHES


Shirley Jackson, , illus. by Miles Hyman. . FSG, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-35525-8

Luminous pastels by Jackson's grandson breathe life into this haunting 1963 tale, the only children's book written by the author of "The Lottery." Hyman sets the stage for the story's mix of fantasy and reality in the opening spreads. A lone leaf falls from high above a rural landscape as a house comes into view. With the opening lines, "Today was a very funny day. The sky was green and the sun was blue and all the trees were flying balloons," the artist turns up the magic, yet makes the text seem somehow logical. On the front stoop of the house sits a girl in a poppy-covered sundress, and a caped wizard offers her nine wishes. Eight wishes spring to life in warmly burnished, full-bleed images. For "a garden of flowers all made of candy," the light streaming through the leaves of a candy cane–striped tree echoes the poppies on the girl's dress; a tropical sunset backlights the mountains through which the girl and her cat float on "a silver ship with sails of red." Yet the duo always seems earthbound. The heroine politely turns down the ninth wish: "Thank you,... but there is really nothing more to wish for." The wizard leaves the last wish in a shimmering scarlet box on a lily pad for someone else, then turns back into a leaf and drifts up into the sky. Jackson's poetic scenes and Hyman's visual imagination provide the real wizardry here. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)