Rose and The Wish Thing is not a typical picture book. The misty illustrations hold an air of the mysterious and are my favorite part of this brief story. As for the text, parts of it are straightforward and tell a universal tale of being new and alone. Other parts feel more abstract and even have details left out, which at times left me confused. For those who embrace Rose and The Wish Thing, the entire package will stir the imagination.
The watercolor spreads, intricately hashed with black ink, immediately captivate me. At the start, an abundance of muted shades of brown, orange, yellow, and green convey Rose’s deep loneliness. As Rose looks beyond her room and her house to worlds far away, a plethora of grays are added. While all these somber colors might conceivably create a sense of dreariness for some, I personally found that they instead invited me to feel Rose’s great turmoil as she unsuccessfully sought out the wish thing. Some pictures reveal what the wish thing is not. Others send Rose swirling into stormy skies and seas, as she searches for the wish thing, and inspire me to use my imagination. When Rose finally does encounter the wish thing, an abundance of brighter colors allow me to revel in her joy. The illustrations perfectly capture Rose’s inner emotional world.
The text is a little more problematic. On the positive side, it unfolds at a gentle pace, along with being simple and easy to read. Often there’s just one line or maybe up to three lines per page. Sentences are typically short such as in: “Everyone searched and searched.” The vocabulary is at an ideal level for being independently read too.
On the negative side, the plot at times feels incomplete or perhaps overly subtle. The plot begins with Rose being a new face in a new place. And as such she naturally feels alone. The problem is I don’t really understand what a “wish thing” is and why Rose is so intent on finding it. Readers are told the wish thing doesn’t have a name and given a list of familiar items which aren’t the wish thing. Yet even when Rose draws the “wish thing,” I don’t know what it is except maybe the equivalent of an imaginary friend? Or perhaps, even though her parents and her dog help Rose look, we aren’t really supposed to know what the wish thing is? Maybe we’re just supposed to use our imagination? I’m not sure, except in the end Rose not only finds the wish thing and also makes new friends.
My one reservation aside, Rose and The Wish Thing is a sweet and magical story. There’s plenty of dramatic and whimsical events. Even if one never figures out the actual identity of the wish thing, I can see imagine young people embracing this new concept into their vocabulary and even creating picture books about their own wish thing.
My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.
How would you rate this book?