Day 7, book 7: Wishes by Jean Little

When I was a girl, I read everything Jean Little wrote. She was one of my favourite authors. Reading Little by Little one summer was my first Jean Little experience and I still have my childhood copy of her autobiography. So when I had the chance to meet her at an event a few years ago, I was very nearly tongue-tied. She’s an impressive person, and a gifted writer. I think she’s one of the treasures of Canadian Children’s Literature.

Needless to say, I’m always happy when a new Jean Little book comes my way. Wishes is a rhyming picture book about the power within all of us to dream and imagine. Really, it’s a sort of ode to wishes and how the act of wishing can help us to value the good things in our lives, see the world differently, and embrace playfulness.

“If wishes were horses,
then poor folks would ride.
If wishes were friendships,
I’d be by your side.”

This structure continues throughout the text, as Little plays with the saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” The text contains many lovely images that satisfy the reader with their bouncy rhythm and creativity.

“If wishes were pancakes,
I’d eat a tall stack.
If wishes were parsnips,
I’d send the plate back.”

Teachers, I’m sure it would be simple and lots of fun for kids to take Little’s poem as a model and write their own Wish poetry. You could even do it as a class and create one Wish poem. You’ll want to add this book to your pile of resources for your poetry units.

Genevieve Cote was certainly the ideal choice to illustrate such a whimsical, lilting text, full of playfulness and light. Her artwork is gentle yet expressive, bringing the dreamy feeling of Little’s words to life.

Wishes is made for reading aloud. I’d say it’s the ideal bedtime story. Shouldn’t every child drift off to sleep thinking about all of the wishes she wants to come true?

Wishes is published by North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada.

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