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The Wishing World by Todd Fahnestock ⇉ Wizards Meet Neverland

Wednesday, February 1, 2017
One wish can save the world . . . or destroy it.

In the Wishing World, dreams are as real and powerful as your imagination. You can transform into a hero, meet fanciful friends, and wield great power. Sounds epic right? The premise took me back to my childhood days when my little brother and I would make up stories about imaginary worlds and characters. And I wondered what we would see if we—well, the mini we's—entered the Wishing World.



WHAT I LIKED


Phenomenal Sibling Relationship
Longtime readers of the blog know that I am a huge advocate for books that features positive family dynamics. I grew up in a loving home and had a close relationship with my brother. Lorelai's relationship with her family—and her brother Theron in particular—is phenomenal. I love how the siblings support each other and know they can count on each other in times of trouble.

Introduces {and Teaches} Big Words
This is a middle-grade fantasy that isn't afraid to use big words like nefarioussurrealhail (verb), and verily. (One of the characters speaks Shakespearean style.) Younger readers need not fear that they've been left alone to interpret these words, however. Lorelai is able to guess at the general meaning of the words thanks to one of her classes (and she's correct). I love how this book teaches younger readers how to use prior knowledge to understand big words and that they do not need to be afraid when they see words they don't know.

Creative World (where dreams literally come true)
THIS. THIS IS THE REASON I READ THIS BOOK. (Everything else was a dream come true. See what I did there?) I love imaginative worlds. One where the characters themselves dream up worlds and the world provides the people (creatures?) that you need . . .?

I would love to talk about some of my favorite aspects of the world (including places, happenings, and magical creatures), but that would go into spoilers. Just read the book, then come back and share your loves with me. I would love to talk with you.

Regardless of whether you've read the book yet or not, I do have a question towards the end of this post that I would love for you to answer!

Fabulous Characters
I love the people and magical creatures that Lorelai befriends on her journey. They have fun names, creative character designs (illustrations of which are featured at the beginning of each chapter), and some even have symbolic meanings behind their character. Many things in this world have a thematic message waiting to be discovered without getting didactic on us.

Note: There is some diversity in the cast.

Lorelai Herself
In a magical world that brings our dreams to life, it's all too easy to get lost in the adventure. Lorelai stays true to herself and writes her own story instead of embracing a new identity. She believes in herself and fights for what really matters: her family. She is the kind of strong heroine that I would introduce to younger readers.

Real Issues for Young Readers
This book touches on real issues for young readers like the fear of losing your family, not being heard or understood, being powerless to do anything, and the possibility that good and evil is not so straightforward after all. Such themes are not overtly discussed but are suggested through Lorelai's story.

When I was younger (and much more introverted than I am now), books were how I understood the world around me. I can see this book being a safe place for young readers to explore themes of family, loss, self-expression, and good vs. evil.



WHAT I DISLIKED


Lackluster Villain
The villain in the Wishing World seems rather bland, though the kind of self-entitled bratty character that I wanted to hate on. I do appreciate the twist on good vs. evil that is introduced in this novel. (Without being overly didactic too. I felt as if we were encouraged to think about this question alongside Lorelai).

All that said, I feel like the novel didn't give the villain a chance to be something more. It may have been intentional—to leave the question open—but especially given that this is an MG novel, I wish there was a little more closure offered:

Spoilers, highlight at your own risk: {I do have a problem with kids disappearing at the end, nothing is found of them, and it isn't made into a big deal.}

Straightforward Good and Evil (...questionable?)
Okay, so maybe we did find out that evil is complex. It's just for that one character though. Everyone else can be classified as good or evil. Even better worse, the good are beautiful and the wicked are ugly. It didn't really influence my overall impression of the novel (there was a scene where evil was beautiful and tempting), but it would have been nice if evil creatures weren't all ugly.

Anticlimactic End
The end was rather anticlimactic given all the adventures that happen in the Wishing World. I would have been fine with it but for some questionable happenings.

Spoilers, highlight at your own risk: {The parents and authorities are fine with a mysterious thirteen-year-old boy stay with them (and the police seem to accept his statement that he has no parents???). The Wishing World has smoothed many things over, but just how are all the papers for this boy going to be arranged? This is pushing disbelief. 

My second major problem is that Jimmy falls off the face of the earth and no one seems overly concerned about what's happened to him. I would like more closure, including reaffirmation of the fact the complexity of good and evil (like Jimmy coming to terms with his daddy issues and the MC showing a willingness to extend forgiveness, though it may take term).}


FINAL THOUGHTS


The Wishing World is an imaginative MG fantasy that invites readers to envision magical worlds, fantastic creatures, and the power of dreams to open new possibilities. Reading this book, I relived the nostalgia of my childhood days when my brother and I would create new worlds together. I recommend this book for readers who enjoy a good fantasy with a strong brother-sister relationship. This book would be the perfect bedtime story for a family to share together :)

★★★★★


In the Wishing World, dreams are real. You can transform into your own hero, find wild and whimsical friends, and wield power as great as your imagination. But Lorelei doesn't know about any of that. All she knows is that a monster took her family.

It happened during a camping trip one year ago. Hiding inside the tent, she saw shadows, tentacles and a strange creature. By the time she got up the courage to crawl outside, the monster--and Lorelei's mom, dad, and brother--were gone.

Lorelei is determined to find her family. When she accidentally breaks into the Wishing World, she discovers a way. It's a land more wonderful than she could have imagined, a land of talking griffons, water princesses, and cities made of sand, where Lorelei is a Doolivanti--a wish-maker--who can write her dreams into existence.

There's only one problem: the monster is a Doolivanti, too. What he wishes also comes true, and he's determined to shove Lorelei out, keep her family, and make the whole Wishing World his. To save them, Lorelei must find the courage to face him, or her next wish may be her last.




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Publication Info
  • The Wishing World by Todd Fahnestock
  • Published by Starscape
  • On October 25, 2016
  • Genres: FantasyMiddle Grade
  • Pages: 224 Pages
  • Format: Hardcover
Series
  • N/A
Content
  • Some potentially frightening scenes for young readers.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. All thoughts expressed are my personal honest opinions.

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