THE WISHING BONE by Stephen Mitchell


and Other Poems
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 9 - 13
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Plainly channeling Edward Lear and maybe Lewis Carroll too, Mitchell (Hans Christian Andersen’s Nightingale, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline, 2002, etc.) offers nine rhymed ruminations, daffy episodes, and glimpses of imaginary wildlife, all illustrated, and sometimes illuminated, by Pohrt’s (The Tomb of the Boy King, 2001, etc.) small, clean-lined, delicately exact figures. In the lengthy centerpiece, an expedition in search of “The Last of the Purple Tigers” sets out from Bangalore to track down “the very rarest animal / that you could ever find. / Just three men had set eyes on her / (and two of them were blind).” In other poems, a trial for an unspecified crime ends in an acquittal thanks to a huge bribe of food, the poet has a polite conversation with the Sun, receives nonsense answers from a white rhinoceros, and a transformative blow on the head from a frog—“A light went on inside my brain: / ‘Aha!’ I cried with glee. / The world was bright and boisterous, / And I—released, rejoisterous— / Felt rounder than a pea.” Mitchell’s rhymes roll easily off the tongue, and as in the title poem, in which a weary wisher ultimately wishes away a magic bone’s ability to grant them, there’s a pervasive philosophical cast that will give thoughtful readers something to chew on. A handsomely packaged, nicely diverse gathering of words and art. (Poetry. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7636-1118-2
Page count: 56pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2003


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