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Disclaimer: I have not read the book. My a group of 6 of my 5th grade girls talked me into ordering this book because they've loved 2 other Karen Hesse books this year. The girls LOVED Wish on a Unicorn! Every time we met, they rambled on and on about the book.
Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2014
Every day after school Mags has to take care of her little sister, Hannie, who has special needs, and her brother, Mooch, who everyone is saying is a thief. Her mom has to get ready to go to work at her second job in the factory and someone needs to make dinner, do the dishes, clean up the trailer, and get the little ones to bed. Sometimes Mags just wishes it didn't have to be her. When does she get to be a kid? When does someone take care of her? Life isn’t easy when everyone at school thinks you're trash, and the school bully is trying to cause problems for you. When Mags and Hannie stumble upon an old, dirty discarded unicorn in the field coming home from school, Hannie must have it. Mags tries to explain to her that there's nowhere to put it in their trailer. But, Hannie believes the unicorn is magic, and she won't leave it behind. Finally, they take it home, deciding to hide it in a garbage bag. Mooch makes the first wish on the unicorn. Next, Mags wishes on the unicorn because she really needs some new clothes. Hannie doesn't wish because she isn’t sure what she wants to wish for. Mags thinks the wishes are silly, but then there are clothes waiting for her when she gets home. Secondhand clothes appear from her aunt, and they make Mags feel pretty good. The next day more magic seems to be happening. Is it the unicorn? Things seem to be getting better, but when faced with a big decision will Mags make the right choice? Will Hannie ever use her wish? Can wishes really come true if wished on a stuffed unicorn? You will have to decide for yourself.
I really enjoyed Wish on a Unicorn by Karen Hesse. My heart went out to Mags, and I wish I could meet her and be friends with her because it's clear she needs a friend. I felt bad for her that she wants to be friends with some girls in class who may not be so nice. Sometimes we want things because we're looking at them through a distorted lens. Mags feels bad about herself and her home life, and I think this makes the popular girls seem more glamorous. My heart also went out to Mags because she has a lot of responsibility for someone her age. Kids are mean to her sister and brother, but her family is simply trying to just get along day by day. I think kids in fifth grade and up would enjoy this book and would want to be friends with Mags too. It made me realize that we often spend so much time wishing about things we don't have- that we don't see what's right in front of us. When push comes to shove we want our family and those we love to be safe and happy. I have to tell you this book made me cry. I listened to it on audio, and I definitely recommend it to others. The narrator did a wonderful job, and I felt my heart being pulled towards the characters. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
Teenage Mags has a tough life; considered Trailer Trash by their country neighbors, she is embarrassed: by not having a father, having to wear hand-me-downs, a sister who is developmentally slow and a kid brother who is branded a thief. Working two jobs Mama doesn't have time to be there for her children or sympathetic to a teen's social problems.
One day after school the sisters discover a dirty, stuffed unicorn leaning against a fence post in a field. Immediately Hannie claims the disreputable creature as her own--perhaps sensing that this throw-away animal needs her love and protection. Mags realizes that the idea that a disheveled unicorn could actually grant Wishes has a childlike appeal. Realistic Mags knows that this is utterly impossible, but part of her secretly hopes that it Might be true. Oh, if each one of the maligned siblings could have one wish each...
It is left up to the reader to decide if the filthy toy possesses any real magic, but some of the kids' wishes come true quickly--or is it just coincidence? Mags comes of age as she wrestles with more responsibility than a girl her age should have to shoulder while trying desperately to be accepted by a popular pair of girls. She feels dragged down by peer accusations that little Mooch is stealing food, and by the cruel observations that Hannie--whom she dearly loves--will never be normal. Yet why is this special-needs child suddenly happier than she has been in a long while, even talking more? It is from flawed Hannie that Mags learns the source of real magic and the mostimportant things she should cherish about her outwordly limpoverished life. The real magic was waiting to be found closer than she ever dreamed.