The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books,March 2010 (Vol. 63, No. 7)
Shooting stars, falling eyelashes, dandelion dust, and the occasional wishbone—sixth-grader Griffin Penshire is constantly on the lookout for any of these supposedly lucky things as she wishes her way through life. Her requests vary from predictably self-centered (“I wish to become an amazing bass guitarist”) to the altruistic (“I wish that no worms will fry on the sidewalk the next sunny day”), but it’s not really the specific wishes that have Griffin so keen on wish-making opportunities but rather the general hopefulness of the whole process. That is, until an evil old woman gives her eleven cursed pennies that effectively turn Griffin from a wishmaker to a wish stealer unless she can find a way to return the pennies and their accompanying wishes to their rightful owners. Trivas composes a nifty little tale, in which the magic of wishes and curses believably coexists with the dramas of middle school. The supernatural elements are certainly entertaining, but the real star of the story is the charmingly eccentric Griffin and her ability to navigate the perils of the sixth grade’s social ladder while dealing with an unlucky enchantment. While the conclusion overdoes its “reach for the stars” sermonizing, young readers will appreciate the happy ending for all, especially after the bad fortune Griffin has to endure to find her lucky charm Review Code: R — Recommended. (c) Copyright 2006, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2010, Aladdin, 288p.; Reviewed from galleys, $16.99. Grades 4-6.
Meredith Kiger, Ph.D. Children’s Literature:
This fine story capitalizes on the current trend towards the occult in young peoples’ literature. Griffin Penshine is about to begin her first day of sixth grade. On her way to a music lesson, her mother makes a quick stop at an antique store to pick up a model of the solar system. Griffin’s mother is an astronomer. While there, Griffin is introduced to the store owner’s great aunt, a strange woman who gives Griffin eleven Indian Head pennies. Griffin really did not like the vibes the pennies gave off but already had a habit of making special wishes just to see if they would come true, like wishing it would not rain so hard that worms came to the surface of the ground and got fried when it got hot and six other ridiculous wishes. Later, when Griffin examines the box with the pennies she finds there is a special slot for each penny and each one is labeled with a word. A letter addressed to Griffin from the lady who gave her the pennies tells of her life as a wish stealer and bestows on Griffin the job of wish stealer. Instructions and rules go along with the letter as well as a threat of bad vibes if she tries to throw the pennies away or does not follow the rules. The remainder of the story is a romp through a six grader’s life including the usual jealousies, boyfriends, and school escapades intertwined with her efforts to make the best use of the magical pennies. Griffin is successful and the suspense along the way is interesting and believable. 2010, Simon & Schuster, $16.99. Ages 10 to 14.
A REVIEW FROM THE OWNER OF THE SAN ANTONIO BOOK REVIEW:
IF YOU’VE JUST ABOUT GIVEN UP ON FINDING BOOKS FOR YOUR “TWEENAGE” DAUGHTER THAT FEATURE STRONG AND CAPABLE FEMALE PROTAGONISTS, CHECK OUT: THE WISH STEALERS BY TRACY TRIVAS.
THE HEROINE OF THIS BOOK IS A PLUCKY SIXTH GRADE GIRL NAMED GRIFFIN PENSHINE WHO LOVES TO MAKE WISHES EVERY CHANCE SHE GETS. HER STORY STARTS WHEN AN EVIL OLD WOMAN TRICKS HER INTO ACCEPTING A BOX OF SHINY INDIAN HEAD PENNIES THAT CORRESPOND TO PEOPLE’S WISHES STOLEN OUT OF FOUNTAINS OVER THE COURSE OF SEVERAL DECADES. DUPED INTO BECOMING A WISH STEALER, SHE RACES TO FULFILL THE STOLEN WISHES AS BEST SHE CAN, BECAUSE IF SHE DOESN’T, HER GOOD WISHES WILL NEVER COME TRUE AGAIN. IT’S A CUTE BOOK WITH AN EMINENTLY LIKABLE PROTAGONIST: GRIFFIN IS ARTISTICALLY AND MUSICALLY INCLINED, HAS A STRONG AND LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH HER FAMILY, AND STARTS A “SAVE THE EARTH” CHARITY AS A SCHOOL PROJECT. SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE APPROVING OF YOUR CHILD’S CHOICE OF READING MATERIAL, A MARKED INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF WISHES MADE ON LOOSE CHANGE, AND FIELDING QUESTIONS FROM YOUR DAUGHTER ABOUT SHAKESPEARE, PHILANTHROPY, AND VEGETARIANISM.
June 23, 2010: Review from an amazing fan…
I just received the sweetest email from Laura, a 4th grader in Indiana, who decided to read all the Newbery Medal winner before going to middle school in 5th grade. She accomplished her goal “with time to spare.” Amazing and huge congratulations!! Laura also posted this review of The Wish Stealers…
Griffin Penshine’s story is the kind that you just CAN’T put down; I read it in less than two days. Who knew that 11 stolen wishes could make up such an extraordinary story? This soon to be middle schooler made seven good wishes, and then became a wish stealer. I found her journey to return the stolen wishes and no longer be a wish stealer exciting and adventurous. This Newbery contender definitely grabs your attention! The judges will have to decide if it holds up to multiple readings, but in the mean time I recommend it to both boys and girls who like books with magic in them.
From: 5 Minutes for Mom–bringing moms together!
January 25, 2010
http://www.5minutesformom.com/ By Jennifer
“Looking up at the night sky always held the allure of possibility for me as a child. The possibility of a secret wish granted simply in exchange for a softly whispered “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…” rhyme. The magic of it lasted well past my young childhood, and I can’t deny trying it once or twice as an adult either. (You never know.) With these memories in mind, I approached the new middle grade novel The Wish Stealerswith a smile on my face.
In Tracy Trivas’ first children’s novel, we encounter a world in which wishes are truly powerful, and it isn’t always a lucky thing. Griffin Penshine (really, the perfect name for this cute character) has a penchant for making wishes, and when she finds herself suddenly in possession of a “lucky penny” given by an old woman at a local shop she hopes for some good luck as her first day of sixth grade is approaching soon. However, when she discovers the package contains eleven shiny pennies that actually represent stolen wishes, her luck quickly turns sour. Her fortune rests upon her ability to reverse the curse placed on her with this “gift,” and she’s got her work cut out for her. Add to that the regular social challenges of middle school, innocent adolescent crushes, and school projects all vying for her attention, as well. In the end, can she reverse her own fortune, possibly even spreading some good luck to others as well?
If I could go back in time, I would bring this book back to my own 9-year-old self, because I’m confident this is the exact kind of story I was drawn to–a spunky and unique main character, a fun writing style, and an imaginative conflict that, of course, gets wrapped up with a bow by the end of the story. My own nine year old son read this book (in a morning!), and came away with a huge smile on his face and a declaration of “that was so cool!”
In conjunction with the release of The Wish Stealers, publisher Simon and Schuster is also working with Pennies for the Planet, “a successful nationwide campaign to help critical conservation projects, powered by kids collecting pennies (and nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars, too!) to help save wild places and wildlife in the United States. Working in classrooms, clubs, Scout troops, other groups, with their families, and on their own, kids have turned pennies into a gold mine for wild spaces and wild species needing protection,” according to the media release.
FROM BLOGGING MAMA:
The story begins with Griffin Penshine, a rather sweet girl who believes in making wishes. She wishes for all sorts of things to come true like for her mom to have a baby girl and for her new school to smell like chocolate chip cookies. But one day in an dusty shop an old woman gives her a mysterious gift of eleven pennies. What Griffin comes to realize is that each penny she now owns was once a wish that was stolen.
The only way to undo the stolen wishes is to try to return the wishes to someone else. Until Griffin can return the pennies all her own wishes become the opposite of what she wished for. Griffin must figure how to return the stolen wishes in order to make her own wishes come true. But can she make it happen before it’s too late?
This story is full of creative fun and imagination. The idea that throwing a penny into a fountain to make a wish come true is easy for children to relate to. Griffin’s own wishes seem to pale in comparision when she comes face to face with the enormity of what not returning the stolen wishes could mean for her own family. Her character is believable and genuine as she deals with the idea that she must undo wrongs done in the past. She learns a lot about what really matters to her, family and friends and what really doesn’t, being popular and selfish.
Another detail that made this book so believable was that it features an actual charity aimed at collecting pennies. Pennies for the Planet is a charity that collects pennies to save conservation lands. In the book Wish StealersGriffin teams up with her science partner Garrett to create a fundraiser for Pennies for the Planet. You can join in by clicking the link to learn more about starting a fundraiser in your area to collect pennies to help save the planet. Everyone has some spare change and even a little bit can make a big difference!
Thor and I really enjoyed the book. As he says “It was really, really good.” The book is available for sale now at retailers. As an extra bonus I’m going to give away five copies and all you have to do is tell me that you’d like to win one in the comments. The giveaway will end Tuesday at 11:59 pm eastern time. Good luck!
Have you ever thrown a penny in a fountain and made a wish? Did your wish come true?www.bloggingmama-andrea.blogspot.com
POSTED BY BLOGGING MAMA ANDREA AT 3:59 AM
This story sparkles from start to finish — the perfect pick-me-up for any reader who’s ever thrown a wish to the wind. Every chapter ends with an inspirational quote about believing in yourself and not letting others trounce on your dreams, either from a famous thinker or the author, including some I’m sure to borrow.
My favorites, “Stuff your ears with clouds,” (Grandma Penshine’s advice if someone tries to pull you down with negativity), and philosopher Joseph Campbell’s “Follow your bliss.”
Consider sending this gem to your favorite middle-grade reader, along with a box of 11 shiny pennies she can label and give away, as well as a few good luck charms similar to those given to Griffin by her grandmother, a shiny river rock, a ring with a faux blue gem and one lucky penny of her own.
Then check out these great websites: www.penniesfortheplanet.org and www.worldwishproject.com and help turn wishes into gold.
Griffin’s journey leads her to study ancient alchemists and discovering a new way to help people in a way she never imagined. This is a perfect middle grade novel and one I hope becomes well received at my library. This is a quick read, I sat down on Sunday afternoon and just kept going until I was finished.
Add in the ubiquitous snobby clique of middle school cruel girls, a cute and very nice boy, and several mysteries to be solved, and the result is a very satisfying story and one that will be chock-full of classroom discussion material or just family-around-the-table discussion.
Griffin Penshire accompanies her mother to visit an antique store where her mother, an astronomer, is looking for ancient astronomical tools. Griffin is about to leave the store when she is approached by the owner’s ancient aunt–”the oldest woman she had ever seen, wearing a long black dress with a wilting red lily pinned to it. With her greasy gray hair pulled tightly into a bun, the woman’s face resembled a shriveled apple. Wicked wrinkles gouged in her skin, and a grid of purple veins looked like a grotesque spiderweb covering her face.”
Mariah Weatherby Schmidt, the aunt, comments that she has only once before seen hair like Griffin’s, “half autumn leaves and varamel kisses, half lazing sunset.” She gives Griffin a gift, an old, rare, shiny Indian Head penny. Magic swirls in the shop as Griffin, against her inner instincts, agrees to take it.
The single penny is accompanied by eleven others and a letter from Mariah explaining that the pennies were stolen wishes. Each penny had been thrown in a fountain years before — when Mariah was a young girl — and Mariah had stolen them, along with the wishes they embodied.
Mariah also explains that from now on, Griffin is the keeper of the stolen pennies. Every time she wishes for something good, the opposite will happen. Only her evil wishes will come true. And if she tells anyone about it, none of their wishes will ever come true again.
How Griffin investigates, the mysterious happenings in her town, her mother’s eccentric character (and pregnancy), and Griffin’s clever solution to the problem will keep the reader entranced.
At the end of each chapter are quotes from luminaries such as Ralph Waldo Emerson (When it is dark enough, men see stars), Mark Twain (Courage is…mastery of fear, not absence of fear), and Les Brown (Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.) Each saying relates to the chapter that precedes it.
Also throughout the book are Shakespeare quotes and references to his work. The visiting witches quote from Macbeth while Griffin’s grandmother quotes from Hamlet. The references, of course, are relevant to the plot.
Throughout the book, Griffin struggles to stay true to her values, and if once or twice she loses that battle, well, she is only as human as the readers who will learn from her efforts. The book has many messages for the reader: Keep trying even if the task seems insurmountable; never give up on a dream; and helping others has its own reward.
This book would be a great gift for readers from eight to thirteen