Title: family begins with a… Wish
Written and illustrated by: Matthew Cordell
Published by: Disney Hyperion, 2015
Themes/Topics: parents, elephants, waiting a long time for a baby
Suitable for ages: 4-7
At first there is us.
There is only us.
But even before we can know to know it,
we wish you were here.
An elephant couple who are clearly in love progressively realize that they are ready to have the baby they have been quietly thinking about for quite a while. So they plan and wait, and wait and wait, which is not part of the plan. They stop planning but never stop wishing. And then one day out of the blue, the unexpected and the miraculous happens!
Why I like This Book:
This is an autobiographical picture book. Matthew Cordell and his wife know well what it is to wish, not once but twice, and the heart in this story shines through every word and every illustration. Its is written in the first person plural and addressed to their ‘wish’.
The simplicity of the text and play and balance between wish and wait, and even choice of these two words creates the love, longing and heartache in the reader, even a young reader, I believe.
The confetti pattern of dots that are on both the end pages and stream from the parents to their wish through the story beautifully illustrate the connection even before birth. The square format and lots of white place help put the focus constantly on this parental wish and the pain of their plans being thwarted.
This is a book more for parents and tackles a painful issue for many. But it could be shared with children to show a nontraditional journey to building a family, and I think adopted children and children aware that their conception took a long time will especially appreciate it.
- If you are using this to discuss adoption and being wanted with your students, then other picture books to pair it with might be: Our Gracie Aunt by Jacqueline Woodson, Waiting for May by Janet Morgan Stoeke, I wished for You by Marianne Richmond.
- It could also springboard with older children into a discussion on something they hoped and waited for a long time!
- Don’t miss the interview I did this week with Matthew Cordell.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.