s.penkevich's Reviews > Wishing Tree

Wishing Tree by William Faulkner
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's review
Dec 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: nobel-prize-winners, childrens-books
Recommended for: Faulkner collectors and literature fans with children
Read in December, 2011

”On the night before your birthday if you get into bed left foot first and turn the pillow over before you go to sleep, anything might happen”So begins the magical, whimsical tale The Wishing Tree by none other than the great William Faulkner. Dulcie, a young girl, wakes on her birthday to find a mysterious stranger in her room who whisks her, the other children, the maid Alice, and a 92 year old man away on a magical adventure full of wishes come true. This rare book is actually quite good as far as short children’s stories go and shows Faulkner in a unique form as he wrote it as a gift to the 8 year old daughter of a friend.

Who knew Faulkner wrote a children’s novel? I had never heard of this, so, Faulkner being a major idol of mine, I was surprised and delighted when I found it at random on the wrong shelf of The Dawn Treader Used Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mi this past weekend in perfect condition, dust jacket and all, for under $10. I hastily picked it up and read the jacket to make sure that this actually was THE William Faulkner as it seemed unlikely he had written such a book. This story, weighing in at only 82 pages, existed as just one copy that belonged to little Victoria until it was slightly edited, garnished with the beautiful illustrations of Don Bolognese in 1967 and received an actual publication by Random House. It was written in 1927, which places it sometime around the time he wrote his second novel Mosquitoes.
The Wishing Tree is very playful and funny and shows a different side of Faulkner than is commonly seen. However, it is distinctly the words of the master, as the opening paragraph will show:

She was still asleep but she could feel herself rising up out of sleep, just like a balloon: it was like she was a goldfish in a round bowl of sleep, rising and rising through the warm waters of sleep to the top. And then she would be awake

Also, the servant woman speaks in dialect which shows off what Faulkner would polish in later novels. Alice often speaks as such: ”The one that run off on me and lef’ me payin’ a lawyer to fin’ out what the gov’ment down with him. Him and his army! I’ll war him: he ain’t never seen no war like what I can aggrovoke.” As with all his adult works (strange I would ever have to make that distinction while talking about Faulkner), there are underlying themes about the post-civil war South to be found in this story amidst the magic and wishing.

This book is perfect for any collection of Faulkner, or for any fan of Faulkner who would like to see a different early side of him. This works for me but the real excitement I felt when finding this was knowing that I can read it to my daughter when she is older and introduce her father’s favorite author at a much younger age, seeing as I am not subjecting something like Absalom! on her when she gets to be 8. I'm not quite sure how to rate a book like this but I'm going to say 4/5
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06/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Garima (new) - added it

Garima Lo! so you have read it. I got to know about it today only through brain pickings. One of your early reviews but brilliant as usual.

s.penkevich Yeah! I have a sweet copy in pristine condition that I'm saving to read to my daughter on her birthday someday. Crazy how unknown this is, it seems strange they haven't done a recent printing of this seeing as Vintage reprints new Faulkner editions every few years.

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