What You Wish For: A Book for Darfur

Overview

A stellar collection from Newbery medalists and bestselling authors written to benefit Darfuri refugees

With contributions from some of the best talent writing for children today, What You Wish For is a compelling collection of affecting, inspiring, creepy, and oft-times funny short stories and poems all linked by the universal power of a wish - the abstract things we all wish for - home, family, safety and love.

From the exchange of letters ...

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What You Wish For: A Book for Darfur

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Overview

A stellar collection from Newbery medalists and bestselling authors written to benefit Darfuri refugees

With contributions from some of the best talent writing for children today, What You Wish For is a compelling collection of affecting, inspiring, creepy, and oft-times funny short stories and poems all linked by the universal power of a wish - the abstract things we all wish for - home, family, safety and love.

From the exchange of letters between two girls who have never met but are both struggling with the unexpected curves of life, to the stunning sacrifice one dying girl makes for another, to the mermaid who trades her tail for legs, to the boy who unwittingly steals an imp's house, and to the chilling retelling of Cinderella, What You Wish For brings together a potent international roster of authors of note to remember and celebrate the Darfuri refugees and their incredible story of survival and hope.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Short stories that revolve around wishes form this volume created to raise money for Book Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization working to build libraries for Darfur refugees living in Chad. Mixing poems, stories, and even a comic, the book includes offerings from 18 all-star authors such as Meg Cabot, Alexander McCall Smith, Cornelia Funke, Joyce Carol Oates, Nikki Giovanni, Ann M. Martin, and R.L. Stine. Works range from humorous to poignant, but the theme of wishing unites the volume. Cynthia Voigt’s retelling of Cinderella, which puts her stepfamily at the forefront, is a standout; others include Francisco X. Stork’s heart-wrenching story of a 15-year-old living in a group home while his mother is in prison, and John Green’s profound and funny contribution, told in lists, about a boy who falls for the picture of the orphan his mother is supporting in Kashmir. The essay that closes the book, by Book Wish cofounder Logan Kleinwaks, offers a clear, concise picture of the plight of the more than 100,000 refugees from Darfur and their wishes for a better future. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Heather Pittman
An impressive roster of authors contributed short stories, poems, and even a graphic story to this collection, the proceeds of which go to library development in Darfuri refugee camps. Organized by the Book Wish Foundation, each piece in this collection is about the power of wishes. Alexander McCall Smith writes about Bobby Box, an orphan who wishes for a better life. Jeanne DuPrau's "Pearl's Fateful Wish" demonstrates the potential danger of having your wishes granted. Pen pals exchange stories and hopes in Ann M. Martin's "The Lost Art of Letter Writing." Nate Powell's graphic story, "The Conjurers," illustrates the magic of family and fried chicken in black and white. This is a thoroughly enjoyable collection. Each piece is vastly different, connected only by the common theme of wishing. Each author does a splendid job of creating a short, powerful work. It is worth noting, however, that aside from the foreword by actress and activist Mia Farrow and several photographs of refugees, not one of the pieces actually mentions Darfur. The book is raising money to support the literacy and education of refugees, but the refugees themselves are not the subject of the stories. Nonetheless, many readers will enjoy this book, as it contains several little literary gems from an array of talented authors. Reviewer: Heather Pittman
School Library Journal
Gr 5–10—The 18 stories and poems in this anthology by an all-star cast of writers are about the wishes, hopes, and dreams of young people. They range from realistic fiction with yearnings for family, friends, and fitting in, to retellings of fairy tales. Nate Powell's "Conjurers" is in graphic-novel format, and Ann M. Martin's "The Lost Art of Letter Writing" is an epistolary tale. Proceeds from the book will help fund libraries in refugee camps in Darfur. None of the stories is set in that region, though John Green's poignant "Reasons" focuses on a middle-school boy's obsession with Aisha, a Kashmiri orphan whom his mother sponsors through a Save the Children-type relief organization. This is a quality collection of writings by well-known and respected YA and adult authors.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
Kirkus Reviews

This charitable benefit anthology gathers all-stars for both hits and misses on the theme of wishing.

Twelve stories are accompanied by five poems and one warmly vivid graphic short. Francisco X. Stork introduces Pablito, Breaker-Breaker and Sherry B in a stellar tale of teens supporting one another in a group home. Sofia Quintero's "The Great Wall," about a Jamaican-American girl with a thing for the Chinese-food delivery guy, is entertaining enough to overcome its brick-to-the-head lack of subtlety. Meg Cabot's nerdy hero, seeking a friend, is heartbreakingly funny. The stories cover First World problems, far from the Sudanese refugees described in the saccharine foreword by Mia Farrow, but that distance only helps the collection. John Green's "Reasons" directly addresses some of the moral issues underlying the desire to rescue people from other countries in a thought-provoking piece about a boy in love with a sponsored Kashmiri child. Ann M. Martin's epistolary tale shows two girls with different sets of financial and social problems finding support in each other's friendship. As for the poetry, with offerings from Naomi Shihab Nye, Marilyn Nelson, Gary Soto and Nikki Giovanni, even these tiny verses are lovely.

With so many top-notch writers on tap, it's surprising this collection is only solid rather than exquisite; still, those readers willing to brave anthologies will be rewarded. (Anthology. 11-13)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399254543
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/15/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 705,021
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.46 (w) x 5.84 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexander McCall Smith

John Green is the award-winning, #1 bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan), and The Fault in Our Stars. His many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. He has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. John was selected by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers (youtube.com/vlogbrothers), one of the most popular online video projects in the world. You can join the millions who follow John on Twitter (@realjohngreen) and tumblr (fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com) or visit him online at johngreenbooks.com.

John lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Biography

Alexander McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and went to school in Bulawayo, near the Botswana border. Although he moved to Scotland to attend college and eventually settled in Edinburgh, he always felt drawn to southern Africa and taught law for a while at the University of Botswana. He has written a book on the criminal law of Botswana, and among his successful children's books is a collection of African folk tales, Children of Wax.

Eventually, Smith had an urge to write a novel about a woman who would embody the qualities he admired in the people of Botswana, and the result, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, was a surprise hit, receiving two special Booker citations and a place on the Times Literary Supplement's International Books of the Year and the Millennium list. "The author's prose has the merits of simplicity, euphony and precision," Anthony Daniels wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. "His descriptions leave one as if standing in the Botswanan landscape. This is art that conceals art. I haven't read anything with such unalloyed pleasure for a long time."

Despite the book's success in the U.K., American publishers were slow to take an interest, and by the time The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was picked up by Pantheon Books, Smith had already written two sequels. The books went from underground hits to national phenomena in the United States, spawning fan clubs and inspiring celebratory reviews. Smith is also the author of a detective series featuring the insatiably curious philosopher Isabel Dalhousie and the 44 Scotland Street novels, which present a witty portrait of Edinburgh society

In an interview on the publisher's web site, Smith says he thinks the country of Botswana "particularly chimes with many of the values which Americans feel very strongly about -- respect for the rule of law and for individual freedom. I hope that readers will also see in these portrayals of Botswana some of the great traditional virtues in Africa -- in particular, courtesy and a striking natural dignity."

Good To Know

As a professor at Edinburgh Law School, Smith specializes in criminal law and medical law, and has written about the legal and ethical aspects of euthanasia, medical research, and medical practice.

When he isn't writing books or teaching, Smith finds time to play the bassoon in the candidly named amateur ensemble he co-founded, The Really Terrible Orchestra.

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