By Author / Illustrator
Lissa Evans, Bec Barnes
David Fickling Books
Ed and his sister Roo are faced with the most boring half-term holiday in history: five days spent in the company of their elderly neighbour, Miss Filey, and her ancient, smelly cat. But when they find a box of birthday candles in a cupboard in Miss Filey's house, their world is changed completely. These are no ordinary candles, every single one of them comes with a wish. There's only one problem: some of those wishes actually belong to someone else . . .
Ed and his sister Roo are forced to stay with their elderly neighbour Miss Filey, whilst their parents are at work. Miss Filey lives in a home almost untouched by time, she knows little of the modern world. She also has a cat called Attlee, who is ancient in cat years and smells. Willard is the boy next door who has just moved in and he inserts himself into the situation as well.
What would you wish for if you had wishes? As the children find out, wishes are hard to control, particularly if they are someone else's. The children find out about themselves and each other on this journey as well as finding out that older ladies have pretty spectacular wishes. Attlee is a marvellous character - he turns out to be both smelly and sarcastic - but with a good heart.
It is rare to have a character in a wheelchair as a leading protagonist, as Ed is, where the focus is not on the wheelchair use, but is just part of the story. Some research just out shows that siblings of a child with a disability are often more sympathetic and kinder to others and this story amply illustrates that. The relationship between Ed and Roo rings very true and I think many children will recognise that in their own relationships with siblings.
There is something very joyful about the whole book, something hopeful and optimistic. It urges you to seize the day and not wait to do things - a message for adults as well as children.
272 pages / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 7+
A warm and charming, imaginative adventure story in which an old box of magic candles sparks a series of unexpected, exciting and almost dream-like journeys for young Ed , sister Roo and brand new, bold and excitable friend Willard. All without actually leaving their elderly neighbor Miss Filey's house.
Chapter 1 hooks the reader immediately, introducing a disgruntled Ed and an inquisitive Roo who have been informed they will be spending a whole week with Miss Filey . It is not the half term that Ed is looking forward to - a dull "mind numbingly boring", wi-fi-less week of making polite small talk with an old fashioned, out-of-touch old lady, who they hardly know. However, the author tantalizes the reader with the chapter's closing lines: "What happened at Miss Filey's house was beyond imagination".
Wished turns on the strike of a match; the accidental discovery of a box of unused birthday candles from a childhood 55 years ago that now appear be granting wishes. The three children are astounded, intrigued and full of ideas. What wishes of their own could they fulfil? Or whose wishes should they really be, after these candles lay forgotten in Miss Filey's house for so long?
This is a really wonderful and enchanting story with an timeless feel to it (I would have adored this as a child). The adventures open up - to the reader - the personalities of the children and also open up the past childhood of Miss Filey herself, as the wishes come to reveal her younger imagination, hopes and dreams. The children and adult connect in a genuine and gentle way; learning from each other as sarcastic, cynical Ed (defensive and angry at his life now in wheelchair) softens and realizes wishes and hopes can still be positive and fulfilled. Miss Filey, in turn, is taught by Ed that it is never too late to jump into a new adventure "… you don't ever want to think, 'Oh, I wish I'd had a go at all that when I had the chance…"
Truly meaningful, moving and very, very relevant, with moments of the story that really do touch and connect with the reader - especially as the book itself was written during Covid lockdowns, when so many plans and wishes have had to be put to one side by so many people. Wished has the power and positivity to make you realize that you must cherish the bonds you form with all kinds of different people, embrace the unknown and don't just seize the day but seize every single moment of it.
272 pages / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 7+