Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the World

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the World Book Poster Image
Gorgeous artwork and a message that sparkles with hope.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Kids from 15 different cultures have 15 different ways of wishing for a better world.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book would be a wonderful introduction to the variety of traditions around the world, particularly the ones people have for making wishes. Some factual explanation is given, but not too much, but the text and illustrations will definitely inspire interest in further research.

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What's the story?

Beginning with Guatamalean children flying giant kites to honor the dead and carry wishes up to the gods, continuing with Chinese children throwing their red and gold scrolls into a banyan tree, and ending with American children making silent wishes while blowing out their birthday candles, this is a book about making wishes. The traditions of each country (15 in all) are presented on a two-page spread that bursts with a fascinating illustration. For each, a four-lined poem introduces the wish, and a short explanation tells just what the people are doing, and what they are hoping for. In the end of the book, short paragraphs give a bit more information about each of the countries and their wishing traditions. And the end papers show maps of the world to help kids find just where the countries are located. Also, a lucky symbol has been hidden in each illustration, and in the end the author challenges the reader to find them.

Is it any good?

How can a book on wishing be anything but magical? Learning that kids all over the world have different ways of making wishes is magical in itself, but Elisa Kleven's artwork in this wishing book is the icing on the cake. Picture after picture is absolutely magnificent, and the illustrations on their own are enough to make this book truly fascinating. It all starts with the cover where the word Wish, written in golden letters, bursts amid star-studded fireworks as excited kids jump and point toward the skies. Every page that follows is filled with the same kind of brilliant, sparkling color and enthusiastic detail that will captivate readers of all ages, and cause them to linger over each new country.

Though the text is a bit light-weight for older readers, it's just enough for younger kids and enough to inspire everyone else to find out more about the amazing traditions of the bigger world. It would have been helpful if the author had provided a few resources so interested readers would know where to start looking. But, all in all, this is a magical book, and one that anyone who has ever made a wish certainly will enjoy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about or just explore and absorb the rich illustrations. They will want to talk about what all of the children are doing, what kinds of clothes they are wearing, what types of houses they live in, and so on. What is going on in each scene? What are the children wishing for? How are they sending their wishes, and to whom? What kinds of things do you wish for? How do you make your wishes? Do you have certain traditions in your family?

Book details

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