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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
What a great read even for a wizened adult! I enjoyed every word of Watch Out What You Wish For by Valerie Anne Hudson. It’s for kids, and I can’t wait for our next family gathering to read it to the grandkids, who for some reason, enjoy gathering round for my renderings. Well, let me back up from my enthusiasm to tell you a little about it without giving anything important away. First of all, the title summarizes the theme of the tale. It’s an example of making a statement and then backing it up, which author Hudson does stupendously. Sophie Sinclair is eleven, in grade seven. She has a brother Sam in the fifth grade. The family moves from Toronto where Sophie is headed for trouble because of her criminally-minded best friend Shay. The new town of Mariposa is small, tidy, and friendly—all too much so for the somewhat jaded Sophie. There’s also a defunct Wishing Tree that Sophie and her friends - Winnie, a hockey player, and Merle, an oafish, aspiring magician - discover in the forest. Of course, against all warnings, they activate the curse by voicing their complaints in the form of wishes. Unfortunately, their wishes come true, making the kids scramble to reverse things to the way they used to be, and more so.
Valerie Anne Hudson does not specify the age range for her story, but some hints arise. First, there are no illustrations, only text, suggesting that readers are not in the elementary grades. Second, the vocabulary—for example, dispirited, misdemeanor, decrepit, condescending, reverberated—suggests intermediate or even junior high. Of course, I’m an advanced adult and enjoyed it, though I didn’t have to look up any words. The third indication of the age range is the issues that arise—alcohol, cutting school, bullies, stealing, internet, even suicide (nothing sexual). There are important life lessons to be learned here. And Ms. Hudson teaches them in an entertaining and non-preachy story by the art of showing, not telling. And even an advanced adult like me can have these lessons refreshed now and again. I do look forward to presenting Ms. Hudson’s masterful tale to the grandkids at our next family reunion on the 4th of July! I know it will be a hit.