Irene's Wish by Jerdine Nolen Illustrated by AG Ford 

Available Oct 28, 2014

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A young girl wants her father to be home more, but her wish takes an unexpected turn in this story of enduring love between parent and child from an award-winning author and illustrator.

Irene loves her family, especially when her father is home. But Papa is gone a lot, and so Irene makes a wish for him to be with the family more. Her wish comes true in an unexpected way when Papa, who was drinking lemonade in the garden at the exact moment Irene made her wish, swallows a watermelon seed and begins a surprising transformation. Slowly and beautifully, day after day, Irene’s father turns into a tall, stately, and loving tree. Papa is a beautiful tree, but Irene wants her real Papa back. How could Irene have made such a wish, and how can she make things right?

Jerdine Nolen has written a modern fable about the power of wishes.


-Kirkus Review (Starred)

A tale of wishes, family and magic of many kinds. Irene, a young brown-skinned African-American girl with billowing locks, makes a wish that changes everything, especially for Papa, a gifted farmer. Irene loves her father but regrets that he's so busy growing things that he rarely has time for her or other family members. After Irene "hope[s] and dream[s] and wishe[s] on all the stars that [sparkle] in the skies and on all the apples that ever dangled from any tree," and Papa drinks the seeds she has accidentally left in his iced tea, a transformation takes place that ultimately gives her what she wants…sort of. Unfortunately, daily access to Papa comes with a price. Like Nolen's Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm (illustrated by Mark Buehner, 1994), this mystical tale raises many questions for readers to ponder long after they close the book. For what, exactly, does Irene wish? How does she unwish it? Is Papa's transformation literal or metaphorical? Who in this family learns the most important lesson from the events that unfold? Ford's acrylic-and-oil illustrations bring readers into close contact with a demographic rarely portrayed in children's literature: a middle-class African-American farming family. The lively images make the magic real.With this book, Nolen and Ford broaden the African-American picture-book palette in ways that are both delightful and memorable

-Booklist Review
"Luminous, saturated acrylics and oil illustrations create a warm, cozy story of a close-knit African American family who just need a priority reset. Lush green trees, brilliant blue skies with fluffy white clouds, and almost tangible textures throughout, especially when Papa is blooming, will captivate readers. A fanciful, cautionary tale that reminds children to be careful what they wish for."

– Booklist, October 2014

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