by Nikki Loftin
Prose so poetic it's majestic and magical! Wish Girl is the most promising middle grades book of the year. This one is the real deal and it is the next childhood classic read. The Texas Hill Country sings off the pages. Nikki Loftin has written a love letter to the Texas countryside and all I have to say is: YES! Loftin makes me proud to say she's a Texas girl.
Peter Stone is a quiet boy who prefers his own company. Having relocated from San Antonio, Peter now lives in a two story farm house in the middle of the Texas Hill Country. The nearest neighbor is about a mile away but Peter doesn't care to play with any children. One day while out wandering neighboring fields, he nearly gets bit by a rattlesnake but doesn't bother to tell his parents. They would just yell at him. If he tried to explain, they wouldn't listen. They never do. Since his dad lost his job, his parents always fight. Peter feels alone and unloved.
Out in a meadow the next day, Peter meets a girl about his age. She says she's a wish girl and her name is Annie Blythe. She wants to be an artist. Peter has never met anyone like Annie. She's funny and fun but she does have a temper. Annie tells Peter that she thinks the valley is magic and he has to agree. It's almost as if the valley can hear them and does what they want.
Later, Peter finds out that Annie is sick; she's a wish girl because that's what she calls being selected by the "Make a Wish" program. Peter vows to himself that he will keep Annie safe and help her with her art. The kids spend the next week playing in the valley, hiking and making art projects using twigs, vines and even river mud. Through Annie's eyes, Peter sees the unspoiled beauty of nature around him. Only outside the valley can really bad things happen.
Powerfully evocative imagery and a sweet, tender friendship make this book a classic. Like "Bridge to Terabithia" the boy and girl characters find friendship where they least expect it. By creating their own secret world, the pair discover themselves. Keep your box of tissues handy; this one is a tearjerker.
Highly, highly recommended grade 4-7. Anyone who enjoys a magical book will enjoy reading and rereading Wish Girl.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
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