Author: Matthew Cordell
Age Range: 3-5
Matthew Cordell's Wish is a lovely little picture book about an elephant couple longing for a baby. They plan for the baby, but when he doesn't arrive, they are sad. They attempt to go on with their lives, but their happiness is dulled. Until the fabulous day when their wish is granted, and the baby arrives.
The trying for and arrival of the baby are conveyed in a highly abstract manner. The elephants build a boat and go out to sea and wait for the baby to land in their boat. When he does come, he arrives in his own boat, carried in by a storm. I was reminded a bit of Sweet Moon Baby, in which an adoptive human baby arrives in a similar manner. But in Wish, the impression received by this adult reader is not of adoption, but of a battle with infertility, which is eventually and unexpectedly won.
This does make me wonder a bit about the appropriate audience for the book. I don't think it would work with the early elementary school set, kids who are interested in learning "for real" about where babies come from. It feels almost like a gift book that one would give to adult friends finally expecting a longed-for child. But I think that it also provides a nice vehicle by which parents can tell their young children how much they were longed for, and welcomed, without having to get into any technical details about childbirth. Like this:
"And with every feeling
that was ever felt,
That everything is YOU.
That everything is US.
You are here."
The joy of the parents, and the child, positively leap from the last few pages of the book. Cordell's pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations are well-suited to the quiet tone of the book, with small vignettes, plenty of white space, and occasional flares of multi-colored bubbles, like gumdrops, conveying effervescence.
Wish captures both the sadness of unfulfilled longing and the deep love of parents for their children, even before said children are bone. It does this with scarf-wearing elephants and confetti, maintaining a mostly light, quiet tone. I'm interested to try it out with my daughter, and I'll be keeping it in mind as a baby gift for new parents. It is sure to make them smile.
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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