The Wishing Bone And Other Poems
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The Wishing Bone And Other Poems

by Stephen Mitchell, Tom Pohrt

Amusingly absurd and playfully profound, this delightfully illustrated volume of original poems is sure to tickle the fancy of children and adults alike.

It happened on a winter’s day
(The air was cold, the sky was gray):
Out walking in the woods alone,
I came upon a wishing bone.

What would you do if everything you wished came

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Amusingly absurd and playfully profound, this delightfully illustrated volume of original poems is sure to tickle the fancy of children and adults alike.

It happened on a winter’s day
(The air was cold, the sky was gray):
Out walking in the woods alone,
I came upon a wishing bone.

What would you do if everything you wished came true? How does a white rhinoceros take his tea? Where can you find the elusive purple tiger? Who wanders in the whiffle bog on a bilgy, bulgy night? Resonating with childlike questions, the fanciful poems in THE WISHING BONE invite readers to think and to dream. Full of illustrations as fresh and whimsical as the verse, here is a collection to read aloud and savor for its sheer verbal and visual exuberance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dressy packaging gives Mitchell's (The Nightingale) collection of nine nonsense poems an elegant look, but underneath the sophisticated wrapping, the rhymes strike a disappointing flat note. The book's appearance-elongated trim size, ornamented page numbers and varied layouts-raises expectations, as does Pohrt's accomplished artwork. Muted ink-and-watercolor illustrations counter the absurdities of the poems with a deadpan formality, similar to the juxtaposition in Pohrt's Having a Wonderful Time. The animal characters, especially for "The Trial," a lengthy rhyming commentary on a literal kangaroo court, are spot-on in their witty anthropomorphicisms. Readers will encounter instances of inspired wordplay, as in "The Answer," which clearly nods at the inimitable "Jabberwocky": "It was a bilgy, bulgy night/ Inside the whiffle bog./ The ling-langs howled, obstreperous;/ The owls, ambideperous,/ Fell both ways through the fog." However, such fresh snippets are isolated. For example, "The Answer" also includes the impenetrable lines "I asked him why, I asked him whence,/ I asked him whither-ho./ I asked him if my gravity/ Would lift inside the Cavity/ And where the greens would go." The meter is polished, but the language lacks joie de vivre. The unevenness proves particularly problematic, given the length of the poems; it is hard to appreciate the clever similes and ear-pleasing alliteration of lines such as "My tongue felt limp as liverwurst./ My mind was in a daze,/ As if it were a slice of bread/ Spread thick with mayonnaise" when they are buried in the unwieldy, 30-plus stanzas of "The Last of the Purple Tigers." A soiree of silliness more belabored than amusing. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
With all kinds of silly characters and charming illustrations, this poetry collection is simply a gem. Although it contains only nine poems, this delightful book covers a variety of imaginative topics including a wonderful wishing bone, a zany court trial with two animated lawyers, a quick visit with a white rhinoceros, and a boy's search for answers inside the whiffle bog. The author provides well-written rhymes ranging in length from three stanzas, "When I Grow Up" and "Questions," to thirty-three stanzas, "The Last of the Purple Tigers." Perfect for reading aloud, these poems dance off the page and leave the reader wanting more. Young readers will definitely enjoy the playful nature of Mitchell's poems, as well as Pohrt's whimsical ink and watercolor illustrations. Reminiscent of both Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, this collection of poems not only invites readers to dream and imagine, but it also creates plenty of laughs. 2003, Candlewick Press,
— Debra Briatico
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-Nine narrative poems full of humor and imagination. From speculations on the wisdom that one might acquire on growing up and growing old to addressing the ultimate folly of having all one's wishes come true, these selections are thoughtful and far-reaching. The language is rich with alliteration, rhyme, similes, and descriptive imagery. Light and fanciful illustrations in ink and watercolor complement the whimsy of the selections. Clean, crisp pages with plenty of space surrounding spot and full-page art, printed on heavy, quality paper, afford an attractive, stylish look. This book is slightly reminiscent of X. J. Kennedy's The Forgetful Wishing Well (Atheneum, 1985; o.p.), another touching, wistful, and often very funny title. Each reading of The Wishing Bone reveals new layers of its poems, leaving readers with much to ponder.-Sally R. Dow, Ossining Public Library, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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)

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
3 Months to 18 Years

Meet the Author

Stephen Mitchell is a renowned writer, translator, and anthologist. His more than thirty books for adults and children include THE NIGHTINGALE (a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story),
as well as translations of Rilke, Genesis, and the TAO TE CHING. This is his first collection of poems for children. Of the poems in THE WISHING BONE, he says,
"They’ll tell you all you need to hear,
They’ll whisper to your inner ear,
And sometimes they will make you laugh
As if you saw a pink giraffe
Tap-dancing with a tuna fish.
They make no bones: Their dearest wish
Is that you like them. If you do,
Then (naturally) they’ll like you."

Tom Pohrt has illustrated many children’s books, including the best-selling CROW AND WEASEL by Barry Lopez. He is a self-taught artist. This is his first book with Candlewick Press.

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