Greetings, readers! I hope everyone reading this post is in excellent health and continues to stay in excellent health. Sending heartfelt best wishes to one and all.
Now, I have an extra special treat for you. The amazing Darlene Beck Jacobson is stopping by on her worldwide web tour to talk about her AWESOME new middle-grade novel in verse, Wishes, Dares & How to Stand Up to a Bully. So, without further ado, Darlene take it away.
Darlene: Thanks for having me on the blog today, Robin!
Have you ever made a wish hoping and praying that it will come true? Did it? Was it a good wish or a bad wish? What happened after you made the wish? Did you feel good about it, or not so good?
It seems there are lots of books about wishes. Here are some recent favorites of mine:
My new book, Wishes, Dares & How to Stand Up to a Bully, talks about both good and bad wishes.
Briefly, eleven-year-old Jack misses his Dad who is MIA in Vietnam. It’s been months since he and his family had word of his whereabouts. The last thing Jack wants to do is spend the summer with his grandparents. Mom believes it will be good for all of them – meaning, Jack, his sister Katy, Mom, Gran and Pops – to be together while they wait for word about Dad. Keeping busy will keep them out of trouble and help them think of other things. Jack expects the worst summer of his life. The first summer without. Without Dad, without friends, without his room and all the things that remind him of Dad. When Jack meets Jill, a girl with a brother who makes trouble for both of them, things they believe are turned upside down. Welcome to a summer of fishing, camping, bullies, and a fish who grants wishes. A fish that could be the answer to Jack’s problem. But when Jill makes wishes of her own, things don’t turn out the way they expected. Every wish has a consequence. Will the fish grant Jack’s biggest wish? Will Jack be brave enough to ask?
Let me introduce you to the four main characters as seen through the eyes of the narrator, eleven-year-old Jack.
I jiggle the rod, trying
to interest a fish.
Pops expects some level of
He gave up his day
to bring me here.
I wish the fish were biting
like last summer, he says.
We’d have caught a dozen by now.
In our bucket,
one sorry fish stares out.
If it was a fish that granted a wish
I’d ask it to bring
I wouldn’t waste my wish on
My sister makes me laugh,
even when I feel like crying.
She spins in a circle,
pigtails swinging around,
and around, until she falls drunk with dizziness,
a pile of laughter in the grass.
This time do it with me, Jack.
She grabs my hand. We twirl and spin.
Katy remembers Dad
in a little kid kind of way.
Not the staying up late to talk and sneak ice cream
when everyone else sleeps way.
If he came home,
he would be like a stranger.
Katy wouldn’t grab
a stranger’s hand and take him for a spin.
When we land in the grass,
a thought pokes me
like Katy does with her elbow
when I try to ignore her being a pest.
Will Dad someday seem like
a stranger to me, too?
How many spins does
it take to make
bad thoughts go away?
Here’s what I know about Jill.
She’s eleven like me.
Crazy about bugs,
naming them like the scientists do.
Isn’t afraid of putting a worm on a hook.
Her favorite color is pink.
She can make lemonade come out of her nose.
We never run out of things to talk about.
She makes me forget about Dad.
she makes me laugh.
I catch a fish with one eye missing.
Jill says, Throw it back.
If it can survive like that,
it must have a special purpose,
don’t you think?
I stare at the fish that doesn’t look special,
wondering what happened to the other eye.
I’m naming it Fred, I say
before I throw it back.
Special things should have a name,
don’t you think?
I hear them and then
I see them coming across the field,
Cody and Brad, shouting and
hurling insults at
each other, until they find us,
sitting, waiting for a fish
waiting for Fred.
You losers can’t even catch a fish. Cody
flings the net into the water.
Jill stares at the spot, lips clamped shut as
a ripple spreads out toward us, the net
floating across the pond,
like an empty raft.
I keep my eyes on
Cody, who grabs grapes,
shoves them into his
mouth, daring me to stop him.
He reaches for the can of worms.
Jill stares so hard at the water,
trying to keep her promise to
not talk to Cody,
trying so hard to ignore the
I jump up and snatch the can
of worms before he does.
He stops, stares frozen for a minute,
long enough for me to
collect my courage.
When Jack discovers the fish he and Jill caught might actually grant wishes, he wants to learn more about how this wish thing works:
I go to the library and ask for stories about
wishing, and if wishes in the stories
The librarian shows me a tale called
The Fisherman and His Wife,
a story where a fish grants wishes.
Even though the wife made the fisherman
ask for things, he had to do the asking and
only had three wishes. The wishes
didn’t make them happy, because
they didn’t turn out the way they thought.
The wishes backfired because you have to make
the wish using the
My wish isn’t for
It’s a wish to bring Dad home.
What could be more right than
My whole body tingles with excitement, ready
to make my wish. The only wish
I read the second tale called
The Monkey’s Paw.
A man and woman ask
the monkey’s paw for some money.
The next day their only son
has an accident,
gets mangled in a machine and
They receive his life insurance money,
the exact amount they asked for.
The man wants to get rid of the paw,
but the woman misses her son
so much, she uses a wish
asking to bring her dead son back.
When they hear a knock on the door,
the man knows it’s his dead son who is
probably messed up,
like a zombie
knocking and knocking.
Before his wife runs to open the door,
he uses his last wish to
send his son back to where he came from.
By the time I finish reading,
hairs on my arms and spine
are standing straight up, like soldiers.
I would scream! except
you’re supposed to be quiet
in a library.
What if that
or something else
when I wish Dad home?
The words you use in a wish,
have to be the right ones,
the worst unthinkable thing
I need to think about this wish, and
maybe see what Jill thinks about it too.
Darlene Beck Jacobson is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing since she was a girl. She is also a lover of history and can often be found mining dusty closets and drawers in search of skeletons from her past. She enjoys adding these bits of her ancestry to stories such as her award-winning middle grade historical novel Wheels of Change (Creston Books, 2014), and Wishes, Dares & How to Stand Up to a Bully (Creston Books, 2020).
Darlene lives and writes her stories in New Jersey with her family and a house full of dust bunnies. She’s caught many fish, but has never asked one to grant her a wish. She’s a firm believer in wishes coming true, so she tries to be careful for what she wishes.
Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, book reviews, and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators. To learn more about Darlene, please visit her website by clicking here.
Wishes, Dares & How to Stand Up to a Bully is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your favorite independent bookstore.
To follow Darlene on her web tour, please stop by Holly Schindler’s website on April 2, where she’ll talk about plotting a novel in verse by clicking here. And in case you missed Darlene’s previous stop on March 24th, please visit Roseanne Kurstedt’s website, where Darlene talked about three ways to stand up to bullying without using fists by clicking here.