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The Wish Giver: Three Tales of Coven Tree
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The Wish Giver: Three Tales of Coven Tree (Coven Tree)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,497 ratings  ·  165 reviews
"In this account of sinister doings in Coven Tree, Stew Meat [of Devil's Donkey] relates the King Midas luck that came to three young people, each of whom had a wish fulfilled, and each of whom rued that fulfillment. (A) literary folk story at its best".--School Library Journal. Newbery Honor Book; ALA Notable Children's Book.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 18th 1986 by HarperCollins (first published April 1st 1983)
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Newbery Medal Honor Books
271st out of 306 books — 263 voters
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The Most Frequently Challenged Books
219th out of 240 books — 110 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,241)
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Jeffery Moulton
I first heard this book in elementary school and I absolutely fell in love with it. The stories are clever and have the twist of being written in the same style as folklore tales like "The Devil and Daniel Webster" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" -- a style I absolutely love.

The story is somewhat predictable--strange little man comes to town offering wishes, but the wishes don't go as planned, and everyone learns a lesson in the end--but it is written with such charm and wit and the predictabi
see my review for "dr. dredd's...". similar deal, but not quite so classic. still thoroughly enjoyable.
Kendra Parker
I first read this book when I was in grade school. I remembered being captivated by both the story and the way the frogs in the book croaked, "jug-a-rum." I was thinking about this book a few weeks ago and decided to give it another read to find out what had captivated me so much as a child.

As with many things I have found magical as a child, I cannot say for sure what it was about this book that moved me to ask my parents for a copy of it to call my own (I had to get the copy I read from a lib
This is a disappointing book. Maybe in 1983 they didn't have enough choices for the Newbery Honor? The writing is fine enough for a children's book but sadly the plot has been done over and over and over again and nothing about this version of wishes gone wrong is particularly original. Maybe it was 30 years ago, but considering the careful what you wish stories of the past hundreds of years, I'm doubtful. I just would like to see a wishes story that was different, it always ends up that the peo ...more
Julie Decker
Thaddeus Blinn is a mysterious traveling fellow who claims to be able to give people whatever they desire. And it's a refreshingly simple process, too: when his customers hold their thumbs down on a card he gave them and speak their wishes, they get what they asked for. But Thaddeus's wishes have a way of twisting people's words, and soon Polly's wish to be well-liked, Rowena's wish for her love to stay, and Adam's wish to stop having to haul water all end in disaster. They soon find it's what t ...more
Don't waste your time with this book. How it won a Newbery I'll never know. Must have been a really bad year for literature. But 180 pages to say, "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it" is a little excessive. I hated this book when I read it in college as part of a Children's Lit course on the grounds that it had nothing to offer children. I hated it when I read it this time on the grounds that it was just a waste of paper.
Anuva B
The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain is a great read because it weaves together three stories with the common theme that one should be careful with what they wish for. I would give this book a three star rating because it is written well, but the idea is not original. The Wish Giver reminds me of long forgotten fairy tales with the common theme that one should be grateful for what one has. It also reminded me of the movie Home Alone, when the main character, Kevin McCallister, wishes his family away ...more
I love "be careful what you wish for" stories. The plot is a little predictable for adults, but this was written for children, and is a five-star book for kids. Not only do the characters' wishes turn out EXACTLY as they wish, but they all end up with what they SHOULD have wished for at the end. A fun, quick read.
Arianthe Dove
I forgot the religious overtones, or the fact that somehow this book takes place in massachusetts but everyone has a mid-western twang to their conversation a la Tom Sawyer. Being a New England girl myself, that made the reading a little annoying, but the story is as good today as it was when I was a kid.

It is very much a be-careful-what you wish for kind of story, that both my kids enjoy (male -8, and female 10) . There are many wonderful vocabulary words to pull, and the story moves along comf
I read this while my son was reading it for class in 3rd grade so that we could discuss at dinner. I should have really enjoyed it, as it was clever and I am intrigued by cautionary tales, but I never finished it. Perhaps I simply read it at the wrong time in my life, as if found the clever aspect increasingly annoying, much like the story of Rumplestilskin, which is my least favorite child hood fairy tale . Either way, there are so many great books out there that I don't think I'll be picking i ...more
Shelby Junkins
i like this book so far and its realy good to
Seth P
Nov 29, 2011 Seth P added it
ok not the best story but good
At the Coven Tree Church Social, 4 people receive an offer that will change their lives. Thaddeus Blinn, purveyor of wishes (50 cents apiece, 1 per customer – ever), suckers each of them into buying one of his special cards – each has a red dot in the center, and the wisher makes a wish by pressing their thumb on the dot. They’re all skeptical after receiving their cards, but one by one they make their wishes, which come true, but not in the way that they want or expect them to. “Be careful,” go ...more
The narrator, Stew Meat, meets a strange man named Thaddeus Blinn in a carnival tent. Blinn claims that he can grant any person's wish. He notices that Blinn's eyes glow like a cat's momentarily, implying that he is not completely human. There are three children in the tent: Polly, Rowena, and Adam. Blinn sells each of them a card with a red spot on it, for only 50 cents each, explaining that all they have to do is to press their finger on the red spot and say their wish and it will come true, ...more
Taejas Kudva
Jun 27, 2009 Taejas Kudva rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folk who leap without looking
Recommended to Taejas by: the curriculum (but I'm glad =D)
Shelves: kids-books
I liked this book. A lot. More than three stars, in any case.

So here's why it gets only three stars. The stories (the book is episodic, more like three short stories with a common thread of causality) are pretty straight forward, relatively predictable for an adult. And, I suppose, I'm really rating it from an adult point of few, with a dash of how much it would jump off the page regardless of intended audience.

That said, the book was fun. The kids with whom I've read it have a blast reading it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

October is the perfect time of year to read Brittain's fascinating tale--which I consider an introduction to the Hallowween spirit. I was hooked right from the Prologue--which is skillfully designed to keep you turning pages! Who is this shady characer Thaddeus Blinn, who turns up out of nowhere (good), quietly wreaks havor on the gullible community, then slips off to ply his nasty trade elsewhere? Whoever heard of a Church Social with a slick con artist selling Wi
JG (The Introverted Reader)
When The Wish Giver comes to the Coven Tree church social, four townspeople exchange 50 cents each for one wish. They can't even begin to dream how their wishes will affect their lives.

I remember loving this book when I was in about fifth grade. I couldn't remember a thing about the story but I remember how much I loved this book.

It held up well! As a young reader, I doubt that I noticed that the story is a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for, I just liked the fanciful way that
America's Battle of the Books is coming to my elementary school next year, so when they posted the lists earlier this month for the next school year, I had my class librarians go through my collection with lists in hand. Surprise! I OWN this book! Never heard of it, but there it was...with my name on it! So I read it and was pleasantly delighted. It's got a bit of magic in it, but there are lessons to be learned! Great middle grade fiction and it's a Newbery Honor book.
Jul 24, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Middle Elementary Students
Genre: Fantasy

Four people from the town of Coven Tree stumble across a tent at the church social. Inside is a stubby little man named Thaddeus Blinn who claims he can make any wish come true. He gives each of the four a card and tells them to wish if they would like. Three of them decide on their own time to do it. Interestingly enough their exact wishes come true, but not in the way they intended. They must figure out a way to reverse the magic that has happened.

I thought this was a cute book w
I remember, vaguely, reading this book in the third or fourth grade. I was enthralled with it at the time. I just did this book, again, with my fifth grade book club and it holds up pretty well. Creepy carnival wish giver nearly ruins the life of three kids that make injudicious wishes. A little eerie at parts but wraps up nicely with a HEA.
Marybet Hudson
When wishes come true, the trouble begins. Three characters learn the hard way that not all wishes should be answered -- nor can the damage always be reversed. The author writes in two voices, and blends three simultaneous stories into one. It was an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to upper elementary students.
It was an interesting book because the wish giver said to think about what they wished for and the author made it seem like a real wish not a imagination. It is like i would want to exaggerate if i was the writer but this author made it seem so real. In the beginning Stew Meat went into a mans tent and got a paper with a white dot on it and so did four other people. Polly wished for everyone to notice her and for everyone to be nice to her.
Kayleena Nielson
I loved how the book was set up and how everything in the end worked out and taught a lesson of being careful for what you wish for. It was a book that I actually enjoyed reading and that doesn't happen often when they are not fairytales. I will totally use this in my future classroom.
When the wish giver comes to Coven Tree village, Polly, Rowena, Adam and Stew Meat all spend 50 cents to buy a single magical wish, but when they get their wishes, things don't turn out as they hoped, and if they can't find a way to undo their wishes, the consequences will be disastrous.
Brittany Spahr
I liked this book. It can keep attention. I liked how it told three stories that happened at the same time. It was interesting to see how they all relate to each other and to see how the double meaning turned out. It is a good way to show how things you say can be interrupt differently.
Crysta Xue
I really liked this book. I was confused at parts, but I figured it out because three short stories that intertwine, but are told separately. I feel this book is simple enough that a 6 year old could follow it, but complex enough an adult can still enjoy it.
I would give this book two and a half stars.
Competing in a year that was absolutely loaded with Newbery-eligible Gems, this book accomplished the notable feat of having annexed a Newbery Honor spot.
Bill Brittain's style is quite different from what usual receives Newbery recognition, but I liked it. The three tales from the town of Coven Tree intertwine very nicely, wrapping into a story that seems to center on the theme that one must be careful what one wishes for.
The ways in which each wis
Cute story, with the ever present good moral. Quick read and everything wrapped up nicely for all the characters, so I didn't get a massive anxiety attack over an unhappy ending.
Joe Takeuchi
This book tells about 3 people that fell in the wish givers trick and later turned into chaos. Yes, it was a bit boring, but Isome parts of the book were exiting.
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Bill Brittain's tales of the rural New England village of Coven Tree are well loved by children of all ages. The Wish Giver was a Newbery Honor Book; it and Devil's Donkey were both named ALA Notabled Children's Books as well as School Library Journal Best Books. Dr. Dredd's Wagon of Wonders was a 1988 Children's Editors' Choice (ALA Booklist), and Professor Popkin's Prodigious Polish was named a ...more
More about Bill Brittain...

Other Books in the Series

Coven Tree (4 books)
  • Devil's Donkey
  • Dr. Dredd's Wagon of Wonders
  • Professor Popkin's Prodigious Polish: A Tale of Coven Tree
Wings Dr. Dredd's Wagon of Wonders Devil's Donkey All the Money in the World Shape-Changer

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