I haven't yet read Stephanie S. Tolan's Newbery Honor Book, Surviving the Applewhites, but after reading her new juvenile book, Wishworks, Inc., I'm looking forward to the earlier one.
Max's parents recently divorced. He moved to an apartment with his mother and younger sister, Polly, and he's in a new school mid-year. It's tough enough to be the new third grader, but it's even worse when there is a trio of bullies in the class. On his second day of school, they steal his lunch and throw it in the toilet.
But, Max uses his imagination to escape his problems. During what he calls Adventure Time, Max and his dog, King, a beautiful reddish-brown big dog with a plume tail, save the world from dragons, monsters and scourges. Max would just like a dog, but his mother continues to say no. One night, during Adventure Time, Max finds a store, Wishworks, Inc., where he can buy a wish. It's guaranteed to come true, so Max wishes for a "real, live dog". But, the little skinny female with a ratty tail that shows up at the door isn't quite what Max had in mind. She sure isn't "King".
Wishworks, Inc. is designed for ages 7 to 10. Tolan's book is a fun book, with an imaginative boy who learns something about friends, and dogs. Girls will certainly read it, but this is a perfect book for boys of that age. It's not always easy to find fun books for books, but Max and his imaginary adventures, his dog, and his eventual friend should be appreciated. Tolan skillfully handles issues of divorce and bullies. I appreciated the honesty in this book. Every divorced parent isn't perfect. Bullies don't always become friends. Tolan doesn't sugarcoat life, but she proves the importance of imagination and creativity in survival. I highly recommend this enjoyable, insightful story.
Stephanie S. Tolan's website is www.stephanietolan.com
Wishworks, Inc. by Stephanie S. Tolan. Scholastic, Inc., ©2009. ISBN 9780545031547 (hardcover), 160p.