Monday, December 15, 2014

The Wish

Every memory of my dad and the 43 years I had with him, are happy ones. They are less about things, places, and actions, and more about the time...the words, the stories, the feelings of love. We went many places together and if we didn't, he would greet me with the prompt, "How did it go, tell me everything," and when I would start to share, he would interrupt, "Okay, so you got off the plane and...". Because he did want to know everything.

In the midst of my grieving his recent death, The Wish  appeared on a heap of bills, catalogs, and assorted mailbox chaos. The man on the cover didn't dress like my dad, but he did hold my hand. I opened up the book and read the first page;

 "There was once a little girl who would walk through the park every day with her dad."

A large tear plopped onto the page before I could even feel it. My dad worked hard and commuted to the city every week day. He loved Saturdays and getting up early. I did too. He would wake me up when it was still dark out, make the hand gestures for food and drink, and wait downstairs for me to join him. He loved how I would order breakfast at our favorite local spots, 'Um, a side of bacon, toast, and a coke please." My mother would NEVER let me drink soda. So we didn't tell her that part.

It is refreshing to read a picture book about a strong relationship between a father and daughter. About the simplicity of really loving someone more than yourself. The book shares how that bond can and naturally endures throughout what lifetime allows. And most importantly, demonstrates how a father's wish for his daughter to be truly happy and to have a great life...is the driving force behind the relationship. When I returned to work after my father died, a kindergarten student of mine, who was grieving the loss of his beloved Hamster, and I were sharing a teary talk and he said to me...'Did your dad have a happy life?" I replied, 'Oh yes, he had a very happy life." The dear boy looked me in the eyes and said, "That is all that matters. That is what my dad told me when Shadow died."

Wisdom from a father to a five year old, to me. Imagine the tear soaked page, when I read the bottom of page 27, when the aged father asked his daughter,

"Have you had a happy life, so far?"  

I would recommend this book to teachers to share with students, as a model of father characters and family relationships. I think older readers and writers could benefit from the content, but also the text structure, strategies like transitions and passage of time. The book could also serve as a prompt for students own writing, where they could write about The Wish, by choosing some one they had a wish for and writing about them and what the wish was. I think this book has a place on family bookshelves where it will serve as both a model of male characters, but could inspire a father or important male figure to read it to a child. Male readers are important role models to our youth. I would agree with some other reviews, that color illustrations done with just the right medium, would add another level of interest for the reader and listener. A beautiful story.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Wish-Ken-Elliott/dp/0989703703