So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Wish Express by Ruth Plumly Thompson

Originally serialized for the Philadelphia Public Ledger in 1916, Ruth Plumly Thompson's first novel The Wish Express starts when a boy named Berens, discontented with his math homework, wishes he was someone else somewhere else. The next thing he knows, a giant Discontented Bug with 19 arms and 17 legs has grabbed him and his dog Rags and is flying him to the wish trolley ... and Rags can talk! The trolley is filled with other discontented wishers, both human and animal who must make what Thompson calls "the perilous journey on a wish through Talktown and the State of Discontentment to the misty city of Somewhere Else" to have their wishes granted.

The publisher, Hungry Tiger Press, calls it "a tale of self-discovery, talking animals, amazing little towns, great new friends, and a happy ending!" The book definitely shows the delightful play of words and interesting characterization that Thompson will later display writing 21 novels as L. Frank Baum's successor to the title of The Royal Historian of Oz.

Never before printed in its entirety, the Hungry Tiger Press paperback features a flip-book Wish Express Trolley created by Eric Shanower that moves along the top of the pages as you read. If you flip through the pages you can watch it move. Also included are the original illustrations by Public Ledger artist James Hammon. The Wish Express is a delightful illustration of the proverb "Be careful what you wish for because it might come true" that has lost none of its charm in the 95 years since its first publication.


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