Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Wish Stealers

By Tracy Trivas

Aladdin, 2010

$16.99, ages 8-12, 284 pages

Griffin Penshine never thought twice about making a wish until the day she met an old woman and accepted her box of stolen wishes. Now one wrong wish from Griffin could lead to powerful trouble unless she can return 11 pennies to their rightful owners.

In this charming debut by Trivas, Griffin is the kind of girl who throws caution to the wind: she never misses a chance to blow dandelion fluff or rescue a friend's loose eyelash so she can make a wish of her own, and she never hesitates to wish wondrous things, like raindrops turning into chocolate.

But when 12-year-old Griffin is tricked into becoming the new guardian of stolen wishes on the eve of her sixth grade year, suddenly all of her good thoughts are being cancelled out and anything she wishes for out of anger but doesn't really mean (especially toward the nasty girl in class) is coming true.

Unless Griffin can figure out how to break the curse of being a wish stealer, she could lose all of the things she's dreamed about, becoming an amazing bass guitarist, having a healthy new baby sister, seeing grandma recover from her dizzy spells, and all that's good inside of her could shrivel up just like it did in the old lady who stole the wishes.

Griffin's troubles begin one afternoon at her neighbor Mr. Schmidt's antique store. While tagging along with her astronomer mother Dr. Penshine, Griffin is approached by his great-aunt Mariah Weatherby Schmidt and offered a shiny penny and a box of polishing cloths. Though deep down Griffin wants to refuse the gift, something inside her can't resist.

The penny, an 1897 Indian Head, seems to have a hypnotic pull over her and that night, Griffin discovers that it's not the only one. During a thunder strike the box of polishing clothes mysteriously pops open and reveals 10 more Indian Head pennies and a note from Mariah, detailing a wicked curse that she's passed on to Griffin.

Long ago Mariah stole pennies from a wishing fountain to indulge herself with treats. Every time she scooped up change, she blocked any wish someone made from coming true. Now that Mariah is 92 and her life is coming to a close, she's chosen Griffin to be the next wish stealer -- anyone in possession of the stolen pennies automatically bears the curse -- and made it next to impossible for Griffin to do anything about it.

Mariah warns Griffin that wish stealers are controlled by three rules: 1. Their good wishes can no longer come true. 2. Anything evil they wish for will happen. 3. If a wish stealer tells anyone about the curse, that person will be doomed for life and will never have wishes come true. What's more the longer a wish stealer is in possession of stolen wishes, the more corrupt she becomes.

Not a great beginning for Griffin's sixth grade year, but with a little insight from ancient alchemists, an eerie troupe of traveling Shakespearean actresses, and a Pennies for the Planet fundraising campaign, and some guidance from her grandmother, Griffin might just find there's something more powerful than a wicked curse.

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 under my "BLOGS AND LINKS I'M FOLLOWING" -- and -- and help turn wishes into gold.

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