The Wish

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Overview

There's nothing wrong with Wilma Sturtz. She's perfectly nice. But nobody cares about nice at Claverford, her middle school. Wilma is left out, forgotten, ignored — until she meets an extraordinary old lady who grants a wish: for Wilma to be the most popular kid in school. Presto! Everything changes. Now Wilma has more best friends than she can keep track of and forty dates to the Graduation Night Dance; and someone is writing her love poetry. What more could she want? Nothing! But will it last? How can Wilma ...
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2000 AUDIO CASSETTE Good Audio Book 3 AUDIO CASSETTES withdrawn from the library collection in the clamshell case. Some shelf wear and library markings to the box and the ... cassettes. The audio tapes are sturdy and presentable. EACH CASSETTE IS RETESTED prior to shipping for clear sound quality. Enjoy this audio performance! Read more Show Less

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The Wish

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Overview

There's nothing wrong with Wilma Sturtz. She's perfectly nice. But nobody cares about nice at Claverford, her middle school. Wilma is left out, forgotten, ignored — until she meets an extraordinary old lady who grants a wish: for Wilma to be the most popular kid in school. Presto! Everything changes. Now Wilma has more best friends than she can keep track of and forty dates to the Graduation Night Dance; and someone is writing her love poetry. What more could she want? Nothing! But will it last? How can Wilma make sure she is never unpopularagain?

From Gail Carson Levine, author of the Newbery Honor book Ella Enchanted, this modern-day fairy tale shows a very real girl in a very unusual predicament, and along the way it reveals some painful truths about whether or not we really want to be liked for who we are.

Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL)

Author Biography:
Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and has been writing all her life. Her first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book. She is also the author of three other Princess Tales books: The Fairy's Mistake, The Princess Test, and Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep. Today Gail, her husband, David, and their Airedale, Jake, live in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse in Brewster, New York.In Her Own Words...

"EIla Enchanted began in a marvelous writing course at New York City's The New School. I had to write something and couldn't think of a plot, so I decided to write a Cinderella story because it already had a plot! Then, when I thought about Cinderella's character, I realized that she was too much of a goody-two-shoes for me and Iwould hate her before I finished ten pages. That's when I came up with the curse: she's only good because she has to be, and she's in constant rebellion.

"As a child I loved fairy tales because the story, the what-comes-next, is paramount. As an adult I'm fascinated by their logic and illogic. Ella's magic book gave me the chance to answer a question that always plagued me about The Shoemaker awl the Elves: why the elves abandon the shoemaker. I came up with one answer, but many are possible — and I think the real solution goes to the heart of gratitude and recognition, an example of the depth in fairy tales.

"I grew up in New York City. In elementary school I was a charter member of the Scribble Scrabble Club, and in high school my poems were published in an anthology of student poetry. I didn't want to be a writer. First I wanted to act and then I wanted to be a painter like my big sister. In college, I was a Philosophy major, and my prose style was very dry and dull! My interest in the theater led me to my first writing experience as an adult. My husband David wrote the music and lyrics and I wrote the book for a children's musical, Spacenapped that was produced by a neighborhood theater in Brooklyn.

"And my painting brought me to writing for children in earnest. I took a class in writing and illustrating children's books and found that I was much more interested in the writing than in the illustrating.

"Most of my job life has had to do with welfare, first helping people find work and then as an administrator. The earlier experience was more direct and satisfying, and I enjoy thinking that a bunch of people somewhere are doing better today than they might have done if not for me."

When granted her wish to be the most popular girl in school, Wilma, an eighth grader, forgets that she will graduate in three weeks and her popularity will vanish.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Presto! -- she's popular! In this original modern-day fairy tale, Gail Carson Levine, the Newbery Honor-winning author of Ella Enchanted, introduces a friendless eighth-grader whose wish to become the most popular kid at school comes true. Now, Wilma's life is everything she ever dreamed of -- she has dozens of friends, guys vying for her attention, and she can do whatever she pleases and people still love her. But what will she do in a few weeks when her wish ends with graduation? Funny, painful, and delightfully real, this engaging novel explores the question of whether we really want to be liked for who we are.
USA Today
Levine, the author of Newbery Honor Book Ella Enchanted, writes with great sympathy and humor about the elusive nature of popularity. And middle school readers from every spot in the pecking order will sympathize with Wilma's efforts to be comfortable in her own skin.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Levine (Ella Enchanted; the Princess Tales) turns from fairy godmothers in the Brothers Grimm era to modern-day magic in this provocative meditation on what it means to be popular. Eighth-grader Wilma Sturtz is a nice New York City girl, but she's not popular--until she gives up her seat on the subway to a feeble elderly woman who grants her one wish. "I want to be the most popular kid at Claverford," Wilma tells the woman. Like many other books in this genre, the author explores the ramifications of "be careful what you wish for," adhering to the exact wording of the wish and demonstrating the fallout after graduation day. But, as always, Levine adds a refreshing twist to the fairy tale model: because Wilma has integrity, she uses her popularity to benefit others besides herself. The heroine, acutely aware of her unconditional popularity, adheres to the quote she most appreciates from Hamlet, "To thine own self be true." Because Wilma remains Wilma despite her popularity, she ultimately discovers who her true friends are when the wish's magic concludes. A flesh-and-blood supporting cast of imminently recognizable clique fixtures, as well as the unpopular outsiders whom Wilma also befriends, will offer readers much to ponder in their own lives. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
From The Critics
Wilma Sturtz, an eighth grader, feels rejected and ignored after her two friends move. She has trouble making new friends, until one day she gives an unusual elderly woman her seat on the subway. Impressed by Wilma's manners, the old woman asks young Wilma "if she could have anything, what would she want?" And then, just as suddenly, she grants Wilma her wish: to be the most popular kid at Claverford, her exclusive, private school. Instantly, Wilma is the center of attention. Every girl wants to be her friend, and every boy wants to take her the graduation night dance. Wilma, though, dreads graduation, because that is day this wonderful "wish" ends. In the end, though, Wilma learns to accept herself for who she is, and not because of the 'magic spell. 'Preteens will enjoy this story, which explores the real meaning of popularity, and makes it clear that friendship can never be forced. Above all, it taps into the deep-seated desire of every preteen to be liked and accepted. Genre: Popularity/Friendship. HarperCollins, 2000, 197 pp., $15.95. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Deena Wilma Newman; Rockledge, Florida
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Wilma Sturtz is a real girl in a fairy tale predicament. If only she'd worded her wish differently to the feeble old lady on the bus, she would've been popular forever. Instead, time is running out. The second she graduates from middle school, she's fated to be laughed at and lonely once again. Levine (author of Ella Enchanted and four volumes of The Princess Tales) has a real gift for making once-upon-a-time conventions fresh and contemporary. Readers will warm immediately to Wilma's humor, spirit, and occasional cluelessness. They'll also cheer her instant success--a dozen best friends, forty dates to the graduation dance, and the power to say and do totally uncool things without losing her appeal. Even more gratifying is the wit and wisdom that almost makes this novel into a guidebook for decoding the quirky criteria for popularity. Insightful readers will discover how to be themselves, laugh at themselves, and still have friends. 2000, HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12, $15.95. Reviewer: Betty Hicks—Children's Literature
KLIATT
This modern-day fairy tale is a look at the social trials of an unpopular 8th grader. Wilma Sturtz is a smart kid who has a lot of things going for her; however, she is one of the unlucky social lepers of Claverford School. All her bad luck changes when one day she gives up her seat on the subway to an old lady, who in turn grants Wilma one wish. Wilma says she wants to be the most popular kid at Claverford. When she returns to school, everyone flocks to her, wanting to be her friend. She begins to hang out with the most popular girls in her grade. While juggling this new blooming social life, Wilma realizes that she asked to be the most popular kid at Claverford and that at the end of the school year she will be moving to the area high school. She doesn't know whether the popularity spell will follow her or not! Wilma also starts dating her first boyfriend, Jared, who asks her out after the spell was cast. However, Jared is an unpopular kid, like Wilma used to be, and has liked her all along. The confusion mounts when Wilma has to decide what to do when the spell ends and what is really important to her. Although this story has a predictable Aesop-like moral to it and the reader can easily see where it is headed, it is enjoyable. It will entertain young teens while giving them a healthy reminder of the important things in life. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, HarperCollins, 243p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Erin Darr
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Wilma Sturtz, an average middle school student, offers her seat to an old woman on the subway. This thoughtfulness changes her life when the stranger, who tells her to think carefully, grants her one wish. She wishes to be the most popular student at school. Cliques of popular girls who ignored her are now vying for a place to walk beside her; boys who never noticed her are falling over themselves to sit next to her in class; and her once silent phone is a constant source of interruptions from admirers. As graduation approaches, Wilma's fear of losing her popularity sends her searching the streets for the old woman to find out how to keep her new-found popularity. The quality and narration this recording is excellent. Known for her television and film roles, Ari Meyers gives an outstanding performance of this book by Gail Carson Levine (HarperCollins, 2000), creating distinct and memorable voices and capturing the essence of the many characters: coolly critical Nina speaking in her flat, unaffected voice as she assigns "points" for her friends' actions and words; breathless and beautiful Ardis who embodies teenage perfection; and Jared, whose nerdy voice conveys his intellect while retaining his sensitivity. The constant interchange and clarity of these voices add a fast-paced feeling and creates tension. Suitable for preteens and older readers, this audiobook, with its humor and heartbreaks, will help listeners to explore the meaning of true friendship and acceptance.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard's School, Riverdale, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Set in New York City, this is a highly entertaining, funny, poignant modern fairy tale of a lonely adolescent who receives the sudden gift of popularity. Wilma is at the end of the most excruciating eighthgrade year. Her existence defines unpopular; not only is she friendless, her clueless Language Arts teacher has read aloud a pointofview assignment in which Wilma spends a day as her Airedale Terrier, Reggie. She describes in loving detail the joys of doghood, waiting anxiously for "Beloved Wilma" to come home, lifting a leg to pee, and sniffing a Dalmatian's rear. That's the last straw. Wilma is constantly taunted. Anonymous woofs and snuffles follow her down the school corridor. Suzanne, a particularly nasty classmate, takes every opportunity to ask if Wilma has sniffed an anus lately. One morning while dreading yet another day of isolation, Wilma gives up her subway seat to an elderly woman who looks a bit faint. In return, the woman grants Wilma one wish. She wishes to be the most popular student at her school, Claverford. It is only after the spell begins to work that Wilma realizes her error. The spell will only be in effect at Claverford until graduation, which is only three weeks away. Levine (Ella Enchanted, 1997) captures the daytoday lives of tortured teens, their language, their anxieties, and their joys while spinning a light tale with deeper meaning. (Fiction. 1013)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807287460
  • Publisher: Listening Library, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 4 Cassettes
  • Pages: 58
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.57 (w) x 7.01 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail Carson Levine

Gail Carsn Levine grew up in New York City and has been writing all her life. Her first novel, Ella Enchanted, was a Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Fairest, a New York Times bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best Book, and School Library Journal Best Book; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Ever, a New York Times bestseller; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; A Tale of Two Castles; and the six Princess Tales books. She is also the author of the nonfiction book Writer to Writer, the poetry book Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems, and the picture books Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie, illustrated by Scott Nash. Gail and her husband, David, live in New York's Hudson Valley.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I once read that in some primitive tribe or other, they punished people by ignoring them. If you were being punished, nobody would talk to you. They'd look through you, they'd pretend you didn't exist. It wouldn't take long for this treatment to kill you. I mean, you'd actually die. Dead.

I didn't die, but for the first nine months of eighth grade I almost wished I had. Before then, I had not one but two best friends, Tracy and Freda. We'd been friends since kindergarten. But then Tracy moved to Connecticut, and Freda's parents got mad at Claverford. They said the teachers weren't developmentally aware enough. They sent Freda to a boarding school even though we had only one more year to go before high school.

At first I wasn't worried. I figured I'd make more friends at school. But it turned out making new friends wasn't easy–or even possible. Cliques had already been established, and I couldn't break in. Or maybe I didn't have the knack of showing people that I was okay. Fun. Nice, even.

At first, the other kids weren't out-and-out mean. They let me sit with them at lunch–but nobody talked to me. If I had to call somebody about homework, whoever it was would answer my questions–the same way you take messages for your parents–bored, but vaguely polite.

Then, in November, it got worse. Much worse. Ms. Hannah, my teacher for homeroom and language arts, told us to write two pages on our "secret lives."

"This is the creative in creative writing, children." Ms. Hannah was the only teacher who still called us"children." She also pronounced "blue" as b-l-y-e-w.

I wrote seven pages pretending to be my Airedale, Reggie. I could have written a hundred pages. I love animals, I love dogs, and I especially love Reggie.

I wrote about dog happiness, about what dog dreams were like, about how it felt to chase a squirrel, about my favorite flavor of dog biscuit, and about my feud with the German shepherd who lived across the hall. But that's not what got me in trouble when Ms. Hannah read my report out loud.

She started out by saying she wanted us to hear the best example of "point of view" she'd ever come across in a student's writing. I relaxed in my chair, waiting to hear yet another piece by Daphne, who was adored by Ms. Hannah and avoided by everyone on our side of the teacher's desk.

"Wilma is to be congratulated on her exemplary effort, which you shall now hear."

I wished I could vaporize and reassemble in a middle school in Moscow. If I had thought anyone else would hear my paper, I would have written the kind of thing everybody else wrote, like my secret life as a music video star, or my secret life as a pro basketball player.

The awful part began halfway down the first page, when Ms. Hannah read, "'I hear the elevator door open. It is my beloved Wilma coming home from school.'" And then–even worse–"'My beloved Wilma is asleep. From the foot of the bed, I watch her. She is so beautiful.'"

Everybody was laughing so hard that Ms. Hannah had to wait five minutes before she could continue. Was she going to read all seven pages? I could survive what she'd read so far, but not if she kept going.

She kept going. "'I see Celeste, the dalmatian who is my best friend after my beloved Wilma. She is peeing. I rush to smell her pee. Celeste had chicken for dinner. I lift my leg over her pee.'"

The class howled. Timothy stamped his feet. BeeBee moaned that she had to pee. They all looked at me and looked away again laughing harder than ever. It took Ms. Hannah five more minutes to get them to quiet down. I wished they never would. I knew what came next.

"'Then I sniff her anus. It smells rich and full of Celeste.'"

After that, Ms. Hannah lost control of the class.

From that day on nobody talked to me, except for the occasional woof or snuffling noise as I walked through the halls–and that wasn't conversation. I was left strictly alone, with only three exceptions.

The first exception was Jared, who sat next to me in language arts. He told me he liked my secret life. He said it made him understand dogs better than he had before. I was glad to hear it, but I wasn't interested in Jared Fein, whose eyebrows met over his nose, forming one long continuous eyebrow.

The second exception was Ardis Lundy, the most popular girl at Claverford. She had Ms. Hannah for sixth period, and Ms. Hannah had been kind enough to read my secret life there, too.

"I'm glad she didn't read mine," Ardis told me. "I pretended I was my grandmother, raising my mother. It was pretty personal." And she smiled at me.

After that, she'd smile and wave when she saw me, but then again, she smiled and waved to everybody.

The third exception was Suzanne Russo. Razor Mouth Suzanne Russo. From then on she'd call me "beloved Wilma," or ask me what I'd sniffed lately or if there were any good fire hydrants near school. And no matter what else she said, she'd always drag the word "anus" in somehow.

Then, two weeks after The Reading, I got a lucky break. Mr. Pashkin, our communications teacher, paired everyone off for debates, and he paired me with BeeBee Molzen, who was very popular. Our topic was human cloning, and we were supposed to work together on our arguments before we debated in front of everybody. I thought this could be my chance to make a new friend, and then to make even more friends if BeeBee brought me into her clique.

The Wish. Copyright © by Gail Levine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

Chapter One

I once read that in some primitive tribe or other, they punished people by ignoring them. If you were being punished, nobody would talk to you. They’d look through you, they’d pretend you didn’t exist. It wouldn’t take long for this treatment to kill you. I mean, you’d actually die. Dead.

I didn’t die, but for the first nine months of eighth grade I almost wished I had. Before then, I had not one but two best friends, Tracy and Freda. We’d been friends since kindergarten. But then Tracy moved to Connecticut, and Freda’s parents got mad at Claverford. They said the teachers weren’t developmentally aware enough.They sent Freda to a boarding school even though we had only one more year to go before high school.

At first I wasn’t worried. I figured I’d make more friends at school. But it turned out making new friends wasn’t easy—or even possible. Cliques had already been established, and I couldn’t break in. Or maybe I didn’t have the knack of showing people that I was okay. Fun. Nice, even.

At first, the other kids weren’t out-and-out mean. They let me sit with them at lunch—but nobody talked to me. If I had to call somebody about homework, whoever it was would answer my questions—the same way you take messages for your parents—bored, but vaguely polite.

Then, in November, it got worse. Much worse. Ms. Hannah, my teacher for homeroom and language arts, told us to write two pages on our "secret lives."

"This is the creative in creative writing, children." Ms. Hannah was the only teacher who still called us "children." She also pronounced "blue" as b-l-y-e-w.

I wrote seven pages pretending to be my Airedale, Reggie. I could have written a hundred pages. I love animals, I love dogs, and I especially love Reggie.

I wrote about dog happiness, about what dog dreams were like, about how it felt to chase a squirrel, about my favorite flavor of dog biscuit, and about my feud with the German shepherd who lived across the hall. But that’s not what got me in trouble when Ms. Hannah read my report out loud.

She started out by saying she wanted us to hear the best example of "point of view" she’d ever come across in a student’s writing. I relaxed in my chair, waiting to hear yet another piece by Daphne, who was adored by Ms. Hannah and avoided by everyone on our side of the teacher’s desk.

"Wilma is to be congratulated on her exemplary effort, which you shall now hear."

I wished I could vaporize and reassemble in a middle school in Moscow. If I had thought anyone else would hear my paper, I would have written the kind of thing everybody else wrote, like my secret life as a music video star, or my secret life as a pro basketball player.

The awful part began halfway down the first page, when Ms. Hannah read, "‘I hear the elevator door open. It is my beloved Wilma coming home from school.’" And then—even worse—"‘My beloved Wilma is asleep. From the foot of the bed, I watch her. She is so beautiful.’"

Everybody was laughing so hard that Ms. Hannah had to wait five minutes before she could continue. Was she going to read all seven pages? I could survive what she’d read so far, but not if she kept going.

She kept going."‘I see Celeste, the dalmatian who is my best friend after my beloved Wilma. She is peeing. I rush to smell her pee. Celeste had chicken for dinner. I lift my leg over her pee.’"

The class howled. Timothy stamped his feet. BeeBee moaned that she had to pee. They all looked at me and looked away again laughing harder than ever. It took Ms. Hannah five more minutes to get them to quiet down. I wished they never would. I knew what came next.

"‘Then I sniff her anus. It smells rich and full of Celeste.’"

After that, Ms. Hannah lost control of the class.

From that day on nobody talked to me, except for the occasional woof or snuffling noise as I walked through the halls—and that wasn’t conversation. I was left strictly alone, with only three exceptions.

The first exception was Jared, who sat next to me in language arts. He told me he liked my secret life. He said it made him understand dogs better than he had before. I was glad to hear it, but I wasn’t interested in Jared Fein, whose eyebrows met over his nose, forming one long continuous eyebrow.

The second exception was Ardis Lundy, the most popular girl at Claverford. She had Ms. Hannah for sixth period, and Ms. Hannah had been kind enough to read my secret life there, too.

"I’m glad she didn’t read mine," Ardis told me. "I pretended I was my grandmother, raising my mother. It was pretty personal." And she smiled at me.

After that, she’d smile and wave when she saw me, but then again, she smiled and waved to everybody.

The third exception was Suzanne Russo. Razor Mouth Suzanne Russo. From then on she’d call me "beloved Wilma," or ask me what I’d sniffed lately or if there were any good fire hydrants near school. And no matter what else she said, she’d always drag the word "anus" in somehow.

Then, two weeks after The Reading, I got a lucky break. Mr. Pashkin, our communications teacher, paired everyone off for debates, and he paired me with BeeBee Molzen, who was very popular. Our topic was human cloning, and we were supposed to work together on our arguments before we debated in front of everybody. I thought this could be my chance to make a new friend, and then to make even more friends if BeeBee brought me into her clique.

That afternoon BeeBee and I met after school at the public library. And we had fun. I told her I didn’t like public speaking, and she said she always lost debates, even with her little brother. I predicted I’d make great arguments in a whisper nobody could hear, and she predicted she’d just say, "Duh, uh, clone, uh, duh."

I took the side that cloning humans was ethical, and BeeBee took the opposite side. I helped her look up arguments against me, and she gave me tips to get rid of stage fright. Then we agreed to meet again at the library the next day to practice and do more research.

I thought we had made progress in becoming friends. I hadn’t made an idiot of myself; I’d even made her laugh a few times. But when I asked her if she wanted to walk over together, she said she couldn’t. She said she’d meet me there because she had to talk to her friends first.

I knew I had a way to go.

The next day, after we finished preparing for the debate, we talked about what it would be like to have clones of ourselves. BeeBee, who liked to paint, said she wouldn’t need a mirror to do a self-portrait. I said I’d like enough clones to gang up on my older sister, Maud.

"And if there were a clone of me," I added, "she’d be younger, and I’d have a little sister."

"I wish I had a little sister too," BeeBee said. "But they wouldn’t clone a dope like me."

"They wouldn’t clone me either," I said. (Secretly I thought they might, though, after I made history in veterinary medicine.)

And then BeeBee said sure they’d clone me, and I said she wasn’t a dope, and I really thought we had taken a few steps toward being friends. The day after that, the seat next to her at lunch was empty. I gathered my courage and said, "Can I sit here?" I could swear the whole cafeteria fell silent at just that second.

BeeBee never looked up and never said anything. Evadney Jones, president of SGO, our student government organization, said they were holding the chair for somebody who was coming in a minute. When I turned away, I heard giggles.

And that was that. Except I did extra research for our debate and worked out more arguments on my side. And when we debated, I didn’t just win, I demolished BeeBee. I made her look stupid. And afterward I felt only the tiniest bit bad for her. Hardly bad at all.

I stopped trying to make friends after that. I just went through the day trying to ignore everyone, except they ignored me first, and better.

I solved the problem of where to sit at lunch by bringing sandwiches from home. I ate them in the girls’ bathroom on the fourth floor, as far away from the cafeteria as possible. It was a disgusting place to eat, but in the bathroom I didn’t feel so alone because I wasn’t in the middle of everybody else having people to talk to.

There were other loners at school, of course—Daphne, Jared, a kid named Benjy, and a few more. You’d think I could have made friends with one of them, Daphne maybe, or she could have made friends with me. But it didn’t work that way. She didn’t try to be my friend and I didn’t try to be hers.

I saw the other loners the way everyone else did—as unappealing, as to be avoided at all costs. If I hung out with one of them, I thought, my unpopular status would get worse, not better, because it would be magnified by association. I thought I’d lose any chance of changing things.

Not admirable, I guess—but true. Probably true for Daphne. Definitely true for me.

Anyway, day after day, I became so used to swallowing around a lump in my throat that when I caught strep throat in February, I didn’t realize I was sick. I just thought the lump had gotten bigger. Mom noticed I was sick, though, and I had to stay home for two wonderful weeks. I had a high fever, and it felt like a knife was stuck in my throat, and I was deliriously happy.

Chapter Two

After my strep throat, I wanted to get the flu, mono, a broken leg—anything that wasn’t terminal or disfiguring. But I stayed healthy.

When I went back to school, nothing changed. And nothing had changed three months later when I met the old lady on the subway. I didn’t expect her to make any difference either, and she didn’t. On the subway stairs I was surrounded by laughing, yelling kids, but I was alone. The usual.

Outside, it had just stopped raining, and the breeze was chilly. I was cold, even though it was May twenty-sixth.

The old lady must have guessed about my wanting to be popular, I reasoned. Most kids want that. Though how she knew my name was a mystery. Nobody names a kid Wilma. The last person before me to be named Wilma was prehistoric—a Flintstone.

Maybe I look like a Wilma. My neck is short, and my front teeth are long, like a beaver. Everything else about me is average, although my brown eyes add to the beaver look. A friendly beaver, that’s me.

At the corner of West Twenty-fourth and Tenth, I saw Ardis half a block behind me with a few billion of her friends. Even though she had talked to me on the "beloved Wilma" day, she hardly knew me. Claverford is small enough for everybody to know everybody, but I knew her better than she knew me. It’s like you know things about the President of the United States, but he—or she—doesn’t know you from a lima bean.

Ordinarily, I would have kept on walking. But this morning, because I was cold, and tired of being invisible and alone, and because of the old lady, I decided to talk to Ardis. I waited at the curb for her.

One of the bunch with Ardis was Razor Mouth Suzanne. Suzanne had always clung by her fingernails to the popular clique. She lived in the same building as me, and I’d known her since we were five, when she decapitated a snowman I was making.

Suzanne was tiny and perfect and had a teeny voice that carried a million miles. She reminded me of a Pomeranian—fox face and needle-sharp bark, and nervous, darting brown eyes.

Ardis, on the other hand, was tall and big boned and regal. She was African American, with the shaggy hair of an Irish water spaniel. Her nose was hawkish, but her eyes were huge and an amazing blue-gray, and her mouth was made for lipstick ads.

The group was getting closer. What could I say to Ardis? I thought of possible topics of conversation. She was on the track team and in the debating club. In the fall, she’d been elected to SGO, but I’d once overheard Suzanne telling somebody that Ardis was failing half her subjects and might get kicked out.

"Hi, Ardis," I said.

"Wilma—beloved!" Suzanne yelped.

Somebody giggled. I heard a low "woof."

Suzanne went on. "Sniffed any yummy—"

Ardis interrupted her. "Hi, Wilma." She smiled at me.

She was so nice.

"Hi," I said.

"How’re you doing?" It wasn’t really a question, and she didn’t wait for an answer. She started to cross the street with her friends.

But I pretended she did want to know. "I’m okay," I said. So far, so good. Now what else could I say? I stood on the curb, thinking. If she was failing half her subjects, maybe I could say something to help. I called after her, "If you want, I could help you out in science and history." My best subjects.

She turned and yelled at me while walking backward across the street. She wasn’t smiling anymore. "Who says I need help? The last thing I need is—"

A truck drove between us and drowned her out. It was near my side of the street, and it plowed through a puddle, drenching me from my waist to my feet.

When the truck had passed, Ardis and her friends were way down the block. I was soaked and cold and dirty. That was so dumb of me, to remind Ardis of her bad grades. How could I possibly have thought it would make her like me?

And now I’d given Suzanne something new to laugh at me about.

Some help the old lady had been. If she hadn’t tottered into my life, I wouldn’t have waited for Ardis. And if I hadn’t waited, I’d be dry and unpopular right now, which would be an improvement.

I stood there, hating to show up at school looking this way.

There’s Wilma. She splashed through a puddle to chase a stick.

There’s Wilma. Another dog peed on her.

There’s Wilma. Gross.

I started squelching to school. At least I didn’t have far to go. Claverford was straight ahead, on the northeast corner of Eleventh Avenue and Twenty-fourth Street. It stood out on a block of shoe-box factory buildings because of its zany architecture, which it was famous for. It looked like it had been assembled by a goofy giant playing with blocks. The small blocks were classrooms. The big ones were the auditorium, the cafeteria, and the library.

It was also famous for being the richest middle school in the country. If you went there, either you were smart and had a scholarship, or your parents were loaded. In spite of our ugly uniforms, which were supposed to make it impossible to tell, everybody knew who was a Brain and who was a Wallet.

Suzanne and I were Brains, although in her case I think they made a mistake. Ardis was a smart Wallet. You couldn’t be a dope and survive in the debating club.

Some of the most popular kids were Brains and some were Wallets. Money didn’t matter. Beauty didn’t either. For example, everybody liked BeeBee, my debate opponent, even though she had no chin and almost no forehead. And her boyfriend was Carlos the Adorable, the same Carlos I’d had a crush on for the last two years.

The crowd of kids grew denser as I approached the school’s tall wooden doors. Two girls jostled me, and neither one apologized. A four-hundred-pound hiking boot squashed my foot. We weren’t supposed to wear hiking boots to school.

I limped under the overhang and took a few steps into the building.

Ardis and some of her friends stood under the clock in the lobby. "Hey, Wilma." She waved and moved toward me, and her group moved with her.

"You’re wet." She smiled at me. "A bus splashed me last week. It was terrible. I was soaked and muddy for hours."

"Wilma . . ." Suzanne began.

She was going to ask if a hydrant had opened on me. Or something nastier.

". . . I never noticed your eyelashes before. They’re gorgeous." Suzanne looked around at everybody. "Aren’t they?"

They all nodded and looked friendly.

Huh?

Read More Show Less

Preface

The old lady looked wobbly and feeble. The minute our subway train started, she was going to keel over. Then she’d be a sick passenger, and the train would stop while we waited for an ambulance, and I’d be late for school.

Plus she looked terrified. I gave her my seat. I helped her into it.

"Thank you, dear. You have done me a good turn." She didn’t have an old lady’s voice. Her tones were as round and juicy as an anchorwoman’s. "And you know what they say about good turns—"

"That’s okay." Was she going to tip me? "I don’t want anything."

"Yes, you do, Wilma. You want many things. I will give you one."

How did she know my name?

The train stopped at Twenty-eighth Street. I thought about going to another car, but I was getting off at the next stop.

"What is your wish?" she asked. The train started moving again. "I know whether you tell me or not. But you ought to put it positively."

The train stopped. We were between stations. In the silence, the old lady continued, "It should not be, ‘I wish I weren’t always left out or picked on.’"

She knew. And now so did everybody in our car. I looked around. Only adults, thank goodness. The train got going again.

"I can make your wish come true. You will be a sought-after member of the in crowd. You will be a cool cat."

The train screeched into the Twenty-third Street station. My stop.

The doors opened. I stood half in, half out, keeping them open. I didn’t want to be just a member of the in crowd. I wanted more. "I want to be the most popular kid at Claverford," I blurted out. I figured I might as well go all the way with a wish nobody could grant.

She frowned. "Is it wise . . . ? All right, dear. Granted."

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 95 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(53)

4 Star

(21)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 95 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2008

    awesomee.

    I read this book this past summer and it was great. I kept wanting to turn the page and I could hardly put it down. 'The Wish' is about a teenage girl who wishes that she was the most popular girl in school but eventually learns that the people who matter in her life will like her for who she is.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2007

    Neat! Cool! Funny! & Weird??

    This Book was cool and Funny. I couldn't put it down. Some parts of the book were sort of odd though. If you like teen fantasy and romance. Then this book is definetly yours.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2007

    Um... Huh?

    This book was really weird. She had really mean friends, and it was kind of a cliffhanger, like will her friends like her anymore? I mean, I was kind of hoping for one of Gail Carson Levine's instant classics, like Ella Enchanted or her princess books, but this one was really disappointing. It had a good idea, but the story was not great.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2007

    A modern Fairy Tale

    What a intresting book I liked it a lot! Wilma's persanality is so much like mine! I Recommend it,thumbs up!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    this book is so lifelike because so many people try to fit in bu

    this book is so lifelike because so many people try to fit in but can't so..... you know but in the end she should be happy because she got to know her "friends" personally(fears, life before popularity and more) as a kid (now I'm thirteen) I didn't fit in and people always made fun of me, but when I got to seventh grade people would talk about me but not as much and now in the eight grade I got a whole lot of friends, so this book means so much to me because I see it from my own personal view.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    this is a awesome book!!!

    In the beginning a girl named Wilma was going to school and then she let and old lady have her seat and the old lady offered her a wish and then she asked to be the most popular person at her school. and when she was at school e bunch of people started throwing notes at her and she thought tnhat some of them were wierd.
    I really liked this book it was awesome I hope you like it!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    What happened to sweet?

    This story was a huge letdown. I read Ella Enchanted first and loved it! I followed it up with Fairest and enjoyed it as well. But this book... I mean really what happened to the sweet fairytale? The girl this story is about is in 8th grade and of course wants to be popular! She is a relatable character but her whole story is so strange. It is set in our time- which makes it even more weird. While on a bus ride our main character gives her seat to an elderly lady and in thanks the ederly lady tells her that she will grant one wish. Willima (the main character) wishes to be popular...and here begins the story. This book was nothing like Ella Enchanted so if you are looking for a similar story look elsewhere. There were quite a few things to watch out for in this book - In 8th grade this girl had no problem agreeing to meet a guy she likes for a kissing sesion. Her friends were a bit boy obsessed and each had boyfriends. I did NOT think it sounded right at all. For one because of the setting -moderen- and the whole wish thing... it just didn't work out for me. I know that middle schools are very much like the one featured in this story but is was just so silly to think of 8th graders being in love, going to dances, partying, and just generally acting inmature by trying to act mature and fit in. I hope I don't scare anyone away from this story. I read a few reviews before hand and others seemed to really enjoy it. Maybe the reason I didn't like this book is because I loved Ella Enchanted's sweet story and I like old fairy-tale settings to go along with a... well, a fairy-tale.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2010

    The Wish By: Gail Carson Levine

    Wilma Sturtz is invisible and miserable at school. One day she meets an old lady on the Subway in New York. The old lady offers her a wish, Wilma immediately asks for popularity, she asks to be the most popular kid at school. Wilma an eight grader forgets that she will graduate in three weeks and her popularity will vanish. When her wish came true she has more friends that she can keep track of, forty dates to the Grad Night Dance, and a secret admirer writing her love poems. Everything was great, until she realizes that there's a loophole in her wish, and her time in the spotlight has almost run out. Wilma's wish has ended after they graduated. I like this Book, The Wish because it was very good because it talks about popularity and romance. I think everybody has the wish to be popular specially when you go to a new school and you don't know anybody and nobody wants to talk to you. Be Careful what you wish for.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2009

    It's Very Fun to Read

    I find it very fun to read, from the beginning to the very end. Very page turning. Recommended

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2009

    don't jugde a book by it's cover

    I read this and I thought it was pretty good. But if you're truly a good reader than you should be able to comprehend what she was going through. She had no friends and no one wanted to be friends with her. The only reason she wished to be popular is because she thought the lady was joking. But anyway this is a truly a good book that teaches you being popular isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Doesn't sound good.

    Gail Levine 's books like Farirest and Ella Enchanted are really good. They were both thrilling, filled with romance, fun , and suspense, but I was kinda disappointed with this one.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2006

    Mystacal and Magical+wonderful

    The Wish is an amazing book. I think anyone who likes funny and romantic book this is the one you want!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2006

    The Wish

    The book I am reviewing is The Wish by Gail Carson Levine. I would rate this book five stars. It was outstanding because it is an interesting book and it made me not want to put the book down. This book is about a girl named Wilma Sturtz who meets a witch and the witch grants her a wish. Wilma¿s wish is to be the most popular girl. A problem that occurs in this story is Wilma¿s wish is only temporary. It will only last for a few weeks. I would recommend this book to girls who like fantasy stories. Another book by this author is Ella Enchanted. Read this book to find out if Wilma¿s popular friends will stay her friends when she is unpopular.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2005

    The wish is great!

    The wish is an awesome book about wilma Sturtz and it relates to a kids everyday life! It is like a true book. (except for the witch) But i recomend this book to anyone who likes to read! Thanks ! ~!Books Rule!~

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2004

    AWWWESOME!!!!!!

    The Wish is a heartstopper. I wanted to keep reading every page. If you enjoy fantasies, a little love, and big decisons we all must make, then you'll love this book. It was everything I was looking for in a book. GREAT!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2004

    This book is number 1111111111111111111111

    i think it was awesome this is one of those books that you can read over and over it makes me really really happy she is like my best friend i love this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2000

    Wonderful!

    This was a wonderful book...Gail Carson Levine certainly has a gift for telling the truth and putting it beautifully...This particular book tells about friendships: discovering them, losing them, fighting for them. Again, this was a wonderful book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2000

    Gail Carson Levine Has Enchanted Again

    A great book to tell realistic feelings toward popular and ordinary people. This book has to be read by anyone who has experienced these kinds of thoughts, which is everyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2000

    IT WAS A GOOD BOOK *****

    THIS WAS A GOOD BOOK

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2014

    Clue #4

    A girl, a dragon, an oger in the tale of a few castles

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 95 Customer Reviews

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