The influx of MG drama type books this year gets a boost with this story by Kate Messner. It’s a realistic look at a growing problem in our own communities. I think adults would enjoy the book more than kids if not for the splash of magical realism.
Yes, there’s a talking fish that when caught will grant you a wish if you let it go. Our narrator, Charlie, is a great character and her wishes are heartfelt though they often don’t turn out as expected. Regardless, her thoughts are spot on for a 12-13 year old and you’ll enjoy her view of life in her community where boys, girls, and dance provide nothing but support. There’s not a bully in sight. Yay!
As to the “growing problem” I referred to above it has to do with one of the worst kinds of addiction for parents to endear when raising their children. It’s one that can break up families in more ways than one. No spoilers here but this should be on the reading list for all youngsters in the fifth grade. It would make a super read aloud and discussion starter, providing hope for those that are in Charlie’s predicament and another voice to warn of the dangers.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016 PAGE COUNT: 240
FULL PLOT (From Kate Messner’s Web Site)
When Charlie Brennan goes ice fishing on her town’s cold winter lake, she’s hoping the perch she reels in will help pay for a fancy Irish dancing solo dress. But when Charlie’s first catch of the day offers her a wish in exchange for its freedom, her world turns upside down.
Charlie catches the fish again and again, but each time, her wishes go terribly and hilariously wrong. Just when things are finally starting to turn around, a family crisis with her older sister forces Charlie to accept the fact that some of the toughest challenges in life can’t be fixed by wishing.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: THE SEVENTH WISH by Kate Messner
- Irish dance is something I knew little about. Charlies love of performing this unique dance and competing was a joy to read.
- Two loving parents who don’t always make the right decision but give it their all to ensure the best life for their two girls. It was nice to read a book without a divorce, an absent dad or mom, or a dead parent affecting this family.
- The addiction topic is handled beautifully through Charlie’s eyes. She doesn’t understand and her reactions mirror what so many other kids in our world today would share.
- Goal setting is a positive element with Charlie selling the fish she catches to help pay for the very expensive Irish performing dress she wants. This dress is not something you’d pick up at Target. They are specially made and cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
- The ending worked. It’s not the Disney type ending you’d hoped for but certainly a realistic one filled with hope.
I look at the fish in my hand. It’s a skinny thing, only about five inches long, black-and-green striped with orange on its fins. But instead of plain, glassy-black eyes like the other perch I’ve seen, this fish has bright-green eyes that almost glow. Like emeralds. Crystals. And this fish is looking right at me.
AUTHOR QUOTE (From Kate’s web site): No offense to any grownups out there, but I’d much rather write for kids. I believe the books we read as kids are books that help shape us, in a way that adult books can’t quite do, no matter how beautifully they’re written.
Make a comment below if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.