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I Wish

I Wish

I Wish by Toon Tellegen, translation: David Colmer
(Elsewhere, 2020, 105 pages)

In thirty-three delightful poems by Toon Tellegen, paired with luminous portraits by Ingrid Godon, children wish for courage, a sudden miracle, an extremely unusual pet, or the ability to become a song, hummed by all those in love.

I Wish pairs poems with a gallery of portraits inspired by old-fashioned photographs – faces staring out at us with the serious, veiled expressions of a bygone time. Scattered among the paintings are young children, men and women, and babies, speaking through Toon Tellegen’s yearning poems. Like dozens of confessions poured from the page, the poems present a glittering kaleidoscope of wishes, from imagined feats of heroism to reciprocated human love.

Each face is round as the moon, with small shining eyes that sit curiously far apart. . . The figures rarely smile. One boy wears a bellhop’s uniform; another, a red jersey and cap. Tellegen’s inward-turned, free verse poems [are] gracefully translated by Colmer. . . By voicing the fears, angers, and secret desires of the figures, Tellegen spurs readers to embrace those of others, and their own. - Publishers Weekly

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children's books