Parents' Guide to

The Wish in the Bottle

By Norah Caroline Piehl, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Folkloric tale founders under weight of nostalgia.

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Although certain details might hold the interest of readers who are fascinated by fairies, this weak novel fails to either capture the fairy world or provide a child-centered view of the human one.

Fans of folktales will recognize this novel's premise; a magical creature grants wishes to foolish humans who wish impulsively. While this is enough plot for a folktale, it doesn't sustain a novel. The portrayals of the three main characters aren't enough to carry the novel either; little sister Laurie, for example, is too precious for words. The narrative constantly points out Laurie's cuteness -- her tendency to truncate long words, her devotion to a stuffed animal -- in a treacly depiction of childhood. Indeed, many of the novel's details, such as Lani's adorable nicknames for Laurie, and the children's tendency to break into song, seem aimed more at nostalgic adults than at children.

The same is true of the novel's heavy-handed morals; the author includes numerous platitudes such as "a little sympathy often goes a long way toward sweetening someone's disposition."

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