From the outside, eleven-year-old Charlie is an angry fifth grader who is forced to leave Raleigh, NC in order to live with her aunt and uncle (Bertha and Gus) in Colby, NC--home to hillbillies and kids who eat squirrel sandwiches. She's mad that her teenage sister, Jackie, gets to move in with a friend and live closer to their mother and visit their father (Scrappy) in prison. But as O'Connor skillfully portrays, Charlie's hard-to-control temper masks her deep longing for a home where her mother doesn't stay in bed all day with the curtains drawn and not caring if she watches TV and eats cookies for lunch.
On the first day at her new school, Charlie meets Howard Odom who she thinks of as the "up down boy" because of the awkward way he walks. As her backpack buddy, Odom persists at befriending her despite Charlie's attempts at discouraging him and her insistence that she's going back to Raleigh. But even as Charlie repeats that line to Howard and the other children she meets, she wonders how long it might take for her mama to get her feet on the ground, as the social worker had said.
Ever since fourth grade, Charlie has had a secret wish. Although the reader never finds out what the wish is, by the end of the book it is apparent that wishing on such things as hearing a bird sing in the rain, watching an acorn drop on the porch and turning around three times, or eating the pointed piece of the pie is not what makes Charlie's life better. Rather, the love of a new family and a special friend bring this story to a happy and satisfying ending.
Part of the lyrical beauty of the story is Charlie's relationship with a stray dog (Wishbone) that she and Howard trap. Charlie has heard that dogs love their owners no matter what and she has an urgent need for that type of relationship.
Out on the porch that night, Bertha told Gus about her day while I sent my thoughts zipping through the trees to wherever Wishbone was. I wanted him to know he didn't have to be a stray like me. I wanted him to be mine. (p. 79)Charlie and Howard finally trap Wishbone and bring him home. When Gus puts a tag around the dog's neck with his name on it, Charlie feels as if he belongs right there with her. But,
....in the middle of that happy moment, I had a tiny seed of a thought that I hurried to push out of my mind before it had time to grow. That thought was this: Where in the world do I belong? (p. 111)Later, after Wishbone runs off and Charlie is feeling miserable over being mean to Howard and she wonders if Wishbone wants to be a stray. Bertha reminds her,
"Charlie Reese," she said. "You think that dog don't know a good thing when he sees one?"
"What good thing?" I said in my pouty baby voice.
She held up a finger each time she counted off. "One, he eats bologna for breakfast. Two, he sleeps on a pillow. And three, he is loved by an angel." (p. 130)Howard forgives Charlie, Wishbone returns, and by the end of the book Charlie has learned to appreciate the love she has received from her aunt and uncle and the Odoms.
Here is the book trailer,
and a glimpse into O'Connor's inspiration for WISH:
Suzy Jackson, the narrator, does a great job providing the different North Carolina voices. This audio book would be a beautiful book to listen to in the classroom or on a car trip with your family. If you would like to enter this giveaway, leave me a comment (with your email address if I don't have it) by Friday, April 21. If you share this on social media or become a follower of my blog tell me what you do in your comment. I'll add your name in the hat accordingly.
Awww, her story sounds like mine, in some pivotal ways. I remember reading a short story about a dog named Wishbone, too, back in elementary school. I look forward to reading WISH --and maybe, just maybe, hearing the audio version.
I'll start the list with your name, Melodye!
I've only listened to one other children's book. Would love to listen to Barbara Connor's book. Great blog.
I work with older students who struggle with reading but love to "read" the books their classmates are reading. I use alot of audiobooks so they can "read" the books.
Thanks Deborah and Stimpson for your comments. Stimpson, that is a great use of audio books. Please leave me your email address in case you win.
This book was a fun read. I know the audio version would be great! I tweeted your giveaway.
Wish is so lovely. Having it on audio would let so many more students have access to Barbara's beautiful book. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks Melissa and Anita. Nice to have some new folks visit my blog. You're both in!
My student love to "read books with their ears". Many of them are learning English and audiobooks teach them pronunciation.
Another great reason for audio books. Thanks for leaving me your email address, LInda, You're in!
Thanks for your email address, stimpson!
As much as I'd love to win this I probably shouldn't enter. I mean really - I've won twice at your blog recently. It's starting to look rigged! ;)
I know it's a fabulous book, though!
I would love the audio version of your book to share with my elementary students in our school library. email@example.com
I'm sharing your blog post on Facebook.
I'm enthralled by the story after reading your review, Carol! I don't read much MG these days, but the snippets you pulled out show that WISH is a beautifully written story. Don't include my name for the drawing. I'll check it out on my own. (I've tweeted twice!)
Thanks for sharing twice on Twitter, Clara, and for posting on FB Rebecca Flowers. Rebecca, you're in twice and Joyce--you're sweet to comment and not enter your name.
Wonderful review of what sounds like a great read for adults as well as kids. I'll be happy to share your blog post on FB.
Keep up the good work!
Thanks for sharing, Sandra. Yes, this is a good book for adults too!
Thanks, Carol, for this wonderful interview with Barbara. Also for a peek inside the amazing life of Charlie! I look forward to reading WISH!
Thanks, Ann. You will love this book!
Yeah, I'd love to win this one, too, but I agree with Joyce. Wouldn't want you to be accused of "rigging"!
This book sounds simply lovely. It's so nice to hear of a book where every question isn't answered. I have a manuscript with an unanswered question, and I get some pushback on that decision from my critique groups, but in real life, not every question is answered! I will definitely be checking this book out. Please let someone else win. I have been winning a lot of books recently.
I totally agree, Rosi! Mine has a few too. I'm sure you and your grandkids will enjoy this book.
Thanks for sharing, Carol! This sounds like a great story. I love listening to novels in my car. Keep writing, everyone!
Thanks, Cindy. You're in. (Half of my "reading" gets done in the car!!)
Thank you Carol for sharing the WISH trailer and video of Barbara. The trailer alone makes me tear up, I can only imagine what a puddle I will be after reading WISH! :)
Thanks, Kathleen. You're in!
Great review! Sounds like just a book for a good road trip. Thanks for the giveaway! firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for leaving a comment, Written Melodies. YOu're in!
Thanks for posting and hosting the giveaway, Carol. Love the book's NC setting and the way the story's NC voice is truly "voiced" through audio. 90% of the books I read are sound recordings.
Thanks for your comment, Cat. You're in!
You always find interesting stories to share with us. Thank you.
Thanks for commenting, Joan. I added your name this morning--but sorry! Sandra Warren just won. Make sure you get this book; I think you and your grands would enjoy it together.
I'd add this audiobook to our small public library email@example.com Loved the book!
Glad my review helped prompt your purchase, Barb!
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