The Three Wishes: An Old Story

Overview

Once again, Margot Zemach brings new life to a traditional story: the tale of the three wishes granted to those who are kind and compassionate. In Zemach's interpretation, a poor woodcutter and his wife are working in the forest when they hear a faint voice calling: "Help, someone help me!" They promptly rescue an imp whose tail is caught under a fallen tree, and in return he rewards them with three wishes. "Wish wisely, my friends," the imp says in parting. Prophetic words ...

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Overview

Once again, Margot Zemach brings new life to a traditional story: the tale of the three wishes granted to those who are kind and compassionate. In Zemach's interpretation, a poor woodcutter and his wife are working in the forest when they hear a faint voice calling: "Help, someone help me!" They promptly rescue an imp whose tail is caught under a fallen tree, and in return he rewards them with three wishes. "Wish wisely, my friends," the imp says in parting. Prophetic words indeed.

It soon looks as if this windfall will be nothing but trouble for the woodcutter and his wife. The legendary dilemma they face—which involves a long string of sausages—is subtly dramatized in Zemach's simple text and wry yet heartfelt pictures. She takes particular joy in showing how, in the end, the woodcutter and his wife get just what they wanted all along.

Margot Zemach won the Caldecott Medal for "Duffy and the Devil" and was the United States nominee for the 1980 Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustration.

A very poor woodsman who is granted three wishes by an imp is urged by his wife to wish for riches.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Much of the joy of old stories comes when readers rediscover them. Zemach's version of the tale about the woodcutter who frees an imp and gets three wishes has a contemporary touch for its old-fashioned settingthe man and woman work together as woodcutters to eke out their spare living. When they roll a tree off the tail of a trapped imp, he gives them the wishes and warns them to be wise. Despite all care, though, the man accidently wishes for sausages. In anger, the wife wishes that those sausages be on his nose. Finally, they must wish the sausages off; a fine sausage dinner repays them for their trouble. Zemach keeps her color palette natural, with sky blues and deep browns of the woods and cabin and a stone gray for the fire place; her sausages seem to sizzle and smoke off the page. It's a fetching edition of a favorite story, by one of our finest storytellers. (3-up)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 With Zemach's new edition of the traditional English tale, one's wishes are granted. Her retelling is a simple one, yet the language is rich with images: ``All that cold day, they were warmed by thoughts of the three wishes. . . .'' Slight changes from earlier versions emphasize the spirit of goodness of this woodcutting couple and the love that is evident between them. Zemach's inviting illustrationswatercolors in hues of blue and brown on cream paperadd humor to the tale, as when they show the couple's dog attempting to get a taste of the string of sausages hanging from his master's nose. At the end, the satisfied couple, feasting on the sausages that they wished off of the man's nose with their final wish, agree that, ``We've not done too badly.'' Neither will librarians who choose this edition to share with childrenindividually or in a story hour grouphave done too badly. This is the best single edition of an old favorite. David Gale, ``School Library Journal''
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374477288
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Series: Sunburst Book Ser.
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.98 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.10 (d)

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