I Wish – words by Toon Tellegen, illustrations by Ingrid Godon

  I Wish – words by Toon Tellegen, illustrations by Ingrid Godon, (translated from Dutch by David Colmer), Elsewhere Edition, 9781939810328, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Poetry

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

 What did you like about the book? This is a collection of prose-poems all responding to the prompt “I Wish”. The characters in this book reflect on a variety of topics including loneliness and feeling misunderstood, the inevitability of death, heartache and loss, wanting to be invisible, unhappiness with your appearance, the inability to take advantage of opportunities, the desire to be loved, how to deal with people you hate, wanting to get and hold onto happiness, and being content with yourself, just to name a few. These are all pretty dark and heavy topics and these reflections are accompanied by portrait drawings of infants, children, and adults that are of a primitive nature. An example of the first reflection includes the language “This is my last request. When I die, I want them to check how long someone’s still thinking of me.” Another one is about death. “I wish I wasn’t scared of dying. There are people who aren’t scared of death. When they see him coming they just stand there calmly and call out, “Hey, Death!””

The illustrations created by Ingrid Godon is this book are of a variety of children and adults and consist of darker muted colors. The characters are staring directly at the reader and have a pensive, almost sad, expression.

Anything you did not like about the book. Although I felt the poetry in the book was excellent and very moving, I am not completely sure where this book would fit in with public or school library.

To whom would you recommend this book? I feel this book would work best in a professional setting with a psychologist or therapist for children. The text involves reflection on some disturbing topics and this could be a tool for a professional to use with a child or a young adult.

Who should buy this book? Hard to say–I would definitely recommend this for a healthcare professional. This is such an interesting book and I would not want to dissuade a public or school library from purchasing this book, but I think any purchase should really stem from the need of your patrons–would this be something that could be used to library patrons?

Where would you shelve it? Poetry

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? I would say to look through it and see if there would be a place for it in your library. It is a very unique book and I have never really seen anything like this on library shelves. There might be a home for it in a public library if a librarian feels there is a need from their patrons.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: January 13, 2020


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