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The Wish Giver: Three Tales of Coven Tree

The Wish Giver: Three Tales of Coven Tree

4.3 51
by Bill Brittain, Andrew Glass

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When a strange little man comes to the Coven Tree Church Social promising he can give people exactly what they ask for, three young believers-in-magic each make a wish that comes true in the most unexpected way.


When a strange little man comes to the Coven Tree Church Social promising he can give people exactly what they ask for, three young believers-in-magic each make a wish that comes true in the most unexpected way.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
An eerie delight.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Sales rank:
720L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Wish Giver
Three Tales of Coven Tree

Chapter One

Here in Coven Tree we're no strangers to magic. I'm not talking about the rabbit-from-a-hat or coin-up-the sleeve variety, either. I mean real magic.

Witches have abounded in this part of New England since colonial days, when Cotton Mather held his witch trials in Salem to be rid of them. The very name of our village comes from the huge, twisted tree down at the crossroads where groups of witches -- covens, they're called -- used to meet. Imps and fiends and all the rest of Satan's spawn have appeared here from time to time, taking their pleasure from plaguing and frightening us poor mortals. Some folks even tell of seeing the Devil himself, walking about and looking for souls to claim when the mists hang low on the mountains.

Usually, though, these creatures of darkness can be recognized at once. Their appearance. The sounds that issue from them. Their manner of movement. The dismal swamps where they abide. All these bespeak their evil nature.

That's what was so odd about Thaddeus Blinn. There wasn't anything spooky or scary about him-at least nothing you could put your finger on. He seemed like just a funny little man who came to Coven Tree from out of nowhere with a strange tale about being able to give people exactly what they asked for. It wasn't until after the wishing started that ...

But I'd best tell the story from front to back, the way it ought to be told. Polly and Rowena and Adam were each a part of what went on, to be sure. But it's myself who knows the whole thing.

Stew Meat's my name. I was christened Stewart Meade, but the nickname was hungon me as a boy, and it stuck. I own the Coven Tree General Store. The people for miles around shop here, and sooner or later everything they have to tell reaches my ears. So who better to relate the entire tale of Thaddeus Blinn and the awful trouble he brought to our peaceful little village?

The Coven Tree Church Social is always held the third Saturday in June on the church's big side lawn. It's like a party with everybody in town invited. Close to the church itself are booths run by the local people: Martha Peabody sells boxes of molasses cookies ... LuElla Quinn raffles off the quilt she spent the whole winter stitching together ... the Reverend Terwilliger sets up a scale and tries to guess people's weight. That kind of thing.

But away off at the far end of the lawn, down by the clump of birch trees, is a space where "outsiders" can set up booths-if they pay the church ten dollars for the privilege. Sometimes there's a woman selling hats with your name sewn onto the brim, or a couple who run a penny toss with balloons for prizes. And once there was a man who heated bits of glass and shaped them into animals you could buy for a dollar or two.

The story of The Wish Giver begins on one such Saturday, with me wandering about, sampling a piece of cake here, and admiring some homemade jewelry there, and taking a general delight in seeing all the villagers decked out in their best clothes.

At first the ragged, mildew-spotted tent down under the birch trees seemed like nothing more than a mound of earth with canvas thrown over it. I must have walked by it two or three times before even noticing the little sign hanging out in front:

Thaddeus Blinn
I can give You
You ask for
only 50 c

Impossible, I thought. Suppose I asked Thaddeus Blinn to cure my knee that got sore whenever the weather changed, or I wanted the hair to grow back on my bald spot. Fiddlesticks! I started to walk away.

"There are no limits, you know. Anything you could possibly imagine can be yours."

I turned about. The man who'd drawn back the tent flaps was short and fat, like a big ball on two legs. He wore a white suit, and his vest was red, with a thick gold watch chain stretched across his belly. The huge mustache under his bulb of a nose bristled fiercely as his mouth curved into a toothy smile. He put me in mind of Santa Claus, shaved and dressed for warm weather.

"Blinn's the name, sir," he said with a tip of his derby. "Thaddeus Blinn, at your service."

Something happened then that might have been just my imagining or a trick of the light. Thaddeus Blinn's eyes glowed for a brief moment, like those of a cat when lantern light reaches the dark corner where it's sitting. Even after the glow died, Blinn's eyes didn't appear quite human. The pupils weren't round, but long and narrow like the eyes of a snake.

"If you don't come inside now, you'll not sleep tonight from wondering about me, Stew Meat," Blinn went on.

I forgot all about his eyes when I heard that. "How in tarnation did you know my name?" I asked him.

"Your curiosity will soon be satisfied," said Blinn, pointing into the tent.

It was cool and shady inside, with the air full of the musty smell of old canvas. A bench ran across the rear of the tent, and three people were sitting on it.

Eleven-year-old Polly Kemp was at one end. Polly lives with her widowed mother out where the footbridge crosses Spider Crick. If Polly'd lived closer to town where she ran into folks more often, there's a real possibility that somebody in a fit of anger would have done her real bodily harm. Or at least put a muzzle on her.

Not that Polly was downright mean. She just said whatever popped into her head without a thought about whether the words she said hurt others. Honesty, Polly called it. But when honesty causes nothing but anger and hurt feelings, maybe there ought to be a limit. Polly, though, didn't know what that limit was.

The Wish Giver
Three Tales of Coven Tree
. Copyright © by Bill Brittain. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Bill Brittain's tales of the rural New England village of Coven Tree are well loved by children of all ages. The Wish Giver was a Newbery Honor Book; it and Devil's Donkey were both named ALA Notabled Children's Books as well as School Library Journal Best Books. Dr. Dredd's Wagon of Wonders was a 1988 Children's Editors' Choice (ALA Booklist), and Professor Popkin's Prodigious Polish was named a "Pick of the Lists" by American Bookseller.

Mr. Brittain has written many other delightful books, which have also received high acclaim. Among these are All the Money in the World, which won the 1982-1983 Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award and which has been adapted for an ABC-TV Saturday Special; and The Fantastic Freshman, which was named an ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

Bill Brittain lives with his wife, Ginny, in Asheville, North Carolina.

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Wish Giver 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Wish Giver is about a man named Thaddeus Blinn who shows up at the annual church social and takes the town of Coven Tree by surprise. He guarantees to give the four people who go into his tent whatever their hearts desire for only fifty cents. He warns them to be very specific when making their wishes. One girl wants to be friends with the two most popular girls in town. Another wants the traveling salesman that she is in love with to stay in Coven Tree and the boy wants water on their property so that he does not have to go across town to get it out of the creek. These three people make their wishes and they come true, but not the way that they expected. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a very good book and was hard to put down. It is full of twists and turns. It is funny and imaginative. People are always wishing for things they want. This book shows in a funny way that you have to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. The three kids in this book learned the hard way about making wishes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book. Really good for kids 8+, but not under. Sort of confusing, but you get used to it. I would really reccomend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in my 5th grade class and when we hd to stop after a chapter or so to write about it I would want to go on! I loved this book! I recommend it to people from 9- whatever age. It is such a wonderful book full of lessons to people. I highly recomend this wonderful book to you are 9 or older. Hope this helped!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was pretty good, kept me occupied and good to do a book report. But there wasn't much of a point to it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read lol such a good read
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is 2 good!!!It kept me ocuppated 2 the very end!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Wish Giver, is the best book I've ever read. It has much detail, character, and humor. It's about a man named Thaddeus Blinn who says he can give you anything you want for only fifty cents, but he also says to be careful with what you wish for... see what he means and read The Wish Giver, By Bill Britain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this in 5th grade fabluse book my boyfriend even loved it so its great for girls and boys READ hhaahahhha
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awsome book i highly recomend this book whoever reads this eill love it i know i did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in fourth grade. I did not think I was ginna like it at first, but then I could not put it down! It is a fabulous book full of twists, turns, and cliffhangers! My class loved it so much we did a play! I was Stew Meat and Henry Piper. (Yes, this is a girl, bur I am a wonderful actress!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is the best
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Was a fantastic book that tells you to always be spicfic in what you are asking for
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Bethany37 More than 1 year ago
This is a great read for younger kids. Reading this aloud to them is a fun way to get them involved in it. And as they get older, they can read it themselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago