Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, so it seems especially appropriate to feature a novel that reminds us that some families are struggling today. This is an absorbing read, especially for children ages 11 and up with challenging family situations.
Charlie feels like she's always coming in last. From her Mom's new job to her sister's life away at college, everything else always seems to be more important than Charlie's upcoming dance competition or science project. Unsure of how to get her family's attention, Charlie comes across the surprise of her life one day while ice-fishing . . . in the form of a floppy, scaly fish offering to grant her a wish in exchange for its freedom. Charlie can't believe her luck until she realizes that this fish has a funny way of granting wishes, despite her best intentions. But when her family faces a challenge bigger than any they've ever experienced, Charlie wonders if some things might be too important to risk on a wish.
The Seventh Wish was written by Kate Messner and published by Bloomsbury in 2016.
Why you want to read this book…
It's great to find a story that shows how a sibling is affected when her older sister faces a difficult challenge. It’s a realistic portrayal of how a whole family struggles and has to come to terms with the crisis, while still carrying on with all the other things they have to do in their lives. (This story reminded me a bit of Jo Knowles’ novel, Still a Work in Progress, because it is also told from the perspective of a sibling of a struggling character. See my review here.)
I think this is the first novel I’ve read that includes both Irish dancing and ice fishing! For me, the magic fish reminded me how sometimes we wish for a quick solution that will make things better but in reality there are some difficulties we can only get through with time and hard, emotional work. The ending of the story was realistic and hopeful.
“But today, I’m tired of being the youngest in the family. I hate the way everybody else’s plans matter more than mine.”
If you’re a writer…
This is a good story to study to see how to create a fully realized picture of the many elements that make up middle school life – friends, family, activities and interests, homework… It’s so interesting to see how the author manages to balance all of these elements in the same story!
“Mom doesn’t need that stomping and kicking and forget-everything loudness the way I do, especially now.”
If you’re a teacher…
Many students need to cope with difficult family situations, like addiction, so I think it’s an important novel to at least have available in the classroom. I really liked the way the story showed the family taking time to work through the situation. This story has connections to curriculum related to substance abuse and addiction.
“We can wish on clovers and shooting stars and flowers all we want. But in the end, the only real magic is what’s inside us and the people we love.”
“I’ve only seen the ice flowers once.”
Kate Messner has written many middle grade novels including Eye of the Storm, Capture the Flag, The Exact Location of Home and the Ranger in Time series.
There’s a teacher’s guide for The Seventh Wish on Bloomsbury’s website.