Genie Wishes

Genie Wishes

4.8 6
by Elisabeth Dahl

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This sweet, funny novel follows fifth-grader Genie Kunkle through a tumultuous year. From the first day of school, Genie knows there will be good, bad, and in-between. The good? She’s in homeroom with her best friend, Sarah. The bad? Sarah’s friend from camp, Blair, is a new student at their school, and is itching to take Genie’s place as


This sweet, funny novel follows fifth-grader Genie Kunkle through a tumultuous year. From the first day of school, Genie knows there will be good, bad, and in-between. The good? She’s in homeroom with her best friend, Sarah. The bad? Sarah’s friend from camp, Blair, is a new student at their school, and is itching to take Genie’s place as Sarah’s BFF. The in-between? Genie is excited to be elected to write her class’s blog, where she’s tasked with tracking the wishes and dreams of her class. But expressing her opinion in public can be scary—especially when her opinion might make the rest of her class upset.
Elisabeth Dahl authentically captures the ups and downs of a tween girl’s life, and the dramas—both little and big—that fill the scary transition between childhood and adolescence.

Praise for Genie Wishes
"Girls should identify and mothers should approve of this gentle tale of growing up."
Kirkus Reviews

"Upbeat slice-of-life novel."
Publishers Weekly

"Here’s to reading about Genie’s sixth-grade year soon."

"The author has a keen eye for the tween girl experience: Genie’s plans for the future involve living right by her best friend and working together as dolphin trainers, while the highlight of her summer is the fact that her other friend just joined the pool. This will no doubt resonate with tween girls, and it has the charm and the discussion fodder to make an excellent mother-daughter book club selection."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First-time author Dahl underscores the message “Change is okay” in this upbeat slice-of-life novel chronicling Genie Kunkle’s last year of elementary school. The year comes with surprises, which are not all good, including the arrival of a new fifth-grader, Blair Annabelle Lea, who usurps Genie’s position as Sarah White’s best friend. But Genie makes other friends and is thrilled to be elected class blogger, which requires her to write weekly posts for the school Web site tying classroom events to the school’s yearlong theme, “Wishes, Hopes, and Dreams.” Genie’s posts prove to be a success, and as the year progresses, there are more firsts in store for her: shaving her legs, wearing a bra (and getting it snapped), and watching her widowed father go out on dates. Compassionate, optimistic, and creative, Genie overcomes conflicts with bullies and gossipers with grace and learns that she can find happiness just by being herself. Anxious upper elementary school readers will relate to Genie’s social conflicts and comfort in the book’s uncomplicated, speedy resolutions. Ages 8–12. Agent: FinePrint Literary Management. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
Genie is in fifth grade and lots of changes are coming her way. A new girl at school, Blair, is taking over her best friend Sarah, Genie's been asked to write the school blog, some girls are starting to wear bras, and her dad has a new girlfriend. Used to being in the background, Genie is surprised when she is elected to write the classroom blog. As the year goes on Genie catalogs events on the blog, makes new friends, and learns to deal with change. Genie is a normal tween girl on the cusp of becoming a teenager. She deals with many trials that typically affect children at this critical age. Genie's story details how cliques begin to form and what happens when it is time to move on and make new friends. Fifth graders will love this coming-of-age tale and find it easy to relate to. It may be inappropriate as a read aloud as it deals with topics that could be uncomfortable in a general classroom setting, such as periods, bras, and using tampons. This book would be a great addition to any class or school library. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—When fifth-grader Genie's best friend, Sarah, becomes friends with Blair, a boy-crazy new girl, everything seems to change. Genie wonders if the transitory property in math also works in friendship: if A is friends with B and B is friends with C, does that mean A is friends with C? Readers follow Genie in her elected position of class blogger as she navigates the final year in the lower grades of her exclusive Baltimore private school through the formation of cliques; bra-snapping; and a secret, malicious blog. Diversity is represented mainly through names and nontraditional families. Readers may have trouble relating to the high socioeconomic status of some of the characters (Blair and Sarah, especially) but frank and honest insights into evolving relationships, changing bodies, and secrets greatly make up for the credit-card-only, tween at-home cosmetics party. Small line drawings add humor to the story. Dahl's first novel is reminiscent of the early installments in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's "Alice" series (S & S) and will appeal to a similar, if more modern, audience.—Jennifer Wolf, Beaverton City Library, OR
Kirkus Reviews
A fifth-grade girl, who under the moniker Genie Wishes becomes the official class blogger, must negotiate the world of preadolescence as she grows away from her BFF. Ten-year-old Genie Haddock Kunkle has been best friends with Sarah White since "what felt like forever." But over the summer, Sarah went to camp with a girl named Blair Annabelle Lea, and now she's in their class. Blair, 11, is more advanced than Genie: She's interested in boys, shaves her legs, has a cellphone and wears makeup. Usually this type of situation is presented as a painful betrayal, but author Dahl's take is more nuanced, and Genie is no one's rejected suitor. Although Genie initially feels bad, she has her own set of values, which Dahl (too) clearly thinks are superior, and she is willing to move on and find more compatible friends. Dahl knows what it's like to be 10, and telling details, such as the fact that Genie and Sarah's future plans include living together within walking distance of their jobs as dolphin trainers, are spot on. She also nails the many decisions, both moral and practical, of preteenhood. Should Genie buy a bra? Plug a line of makeup Blair is selling on her blog? Girls should identify and mothers should approve of this gentle tale of growing up. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Amulet Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.20(d)
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Elisabeth Dahl lives with her husband and son in Baltimore, Maryland, where she writes for both children and adults. All her life, people have asked whether she is related to Roald Dahl. Sadly, she’s not, but she’s looking forward to being his shelf neighbor with her first novel. Visit her online at

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Genie Wishes 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
book4children More than 1 year ago
This book is all about growing up and dealing with the changes that come with tweenhood. Genie is a sweet girl that is just trying to figure things out and remain true to herself in the process. She has to deal with a lot of changes in her fifth grade year. Friend changes, body changes, and interest changes. She has to start worrying about things she's never had to before. This is a look at tween life and the challenges that are presented during that wonderful and confusing time in a girl's life. Genie navigates through everything well and handles her problems in a very grown up way. As far as content goes, there is some dealings with the birds and the bees in an age appropriate way (Genie gets a bra, a two-piece swim suit, and has her first sex-ed class in school) and there is a lot of using the Lord's name in vain. If you are concerned about either of those things, then make sure to read it yourself before giving it to your child.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Genie's story is funny, heartfelt, and absolutely relatable--perfect for anyone who's ever lost a best friend, found a new one, or been a fifth grader. I would have loved this book as a 10-year-old reader, and I love it even more now! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved Genie Wishes! Elisabeth Dahl captures the rapidly changing world of fifth grade with such humor and insight that the reader falls gratefully into Genie's world, and only reluctantly closes the cover at the end. As Genie manages the many changes in her life--making new friends, letting go of old ones--she learns some gentle lessons that are never offered in a heavy-handed or preachy way. The writing style is funny and the kids are entirely believable, from erstwhile best-friend Sarah to grumbly teenage brother Ian to boy-crazy Blair. But no one is a stereotype; every one of them has depth and feeling. I also enjoyed the fact that Genie's family was a bit unusual, with her grandmother, father, and Ian living in a Baltimore row house. Her classmates' cultural diversity comes off as natural, not forced. And Dahl's whimsical illustrations in the margins make the book even more fun and interesting. I can't imagine a tween who wouldn't fall in love with Genie.