I read The Wish Giver: Three Tales from Coven Tree in third grade in Ms. Chase’s class. I saw the devilish man on the front and knew that his smiling face and extra-pointy mustache and knew that the people of Coven Tree were in for a bad time.
I was already wise enough to know that I wanted to read anything that had won the Newberry award. This book didn’t disappoint. I picked it up about a year ago at a book sale and read it again. It’s gotten better with age.
Plot of The Wish Giver
Thaddeus Blinn–how could anyone with a name like that have your best wishes at heart?–arrives in Coven Tree claiming that he can give people their fondest wishes. I’m now convinced that Stephen King lifted Needful Things words for word from this book (bad joke).
If Freshman literature 101 was a ways back for you, this is how stories about the Wish Fulfillment Trope usually get going. That is a fancy and irritating way of saying this is one of the stories about being careful what you wish for. See also: about every other episode of The Twilight Zone.
Just to give you an example, a girl wishes that a boy she likes can “put down roots long enough to settle in Coven Tree.” Remember our discussion of the spooky artwork from Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark? The art in The Wish Giver isn’t gruesome, but it is memorable. The picture of the boy’s feet turning into–well, I’ve said too much. (insert scary ghost-town wind).
The art is great. There are few things I enjoy in kid’s books as much as when I can tell they got the perfect marriage of illustrator and author. Bill Brittain and Andrew Glass work perfectly together.
If you’re looking for a scary story to read for Halloween, for yourself or your kids, The Wish Giver is fantastic. But seriously, be careful what you wish for. Don’t go accepting cards with a red dot on them from a man in a bowler hat.