Jerdine Nolen
Irene's Wish
A.G. Ford, illustrator
Paul Wiseman Books
Simon & Schuster, 2014
book covers
books in alphabetical order
  Irene's Wish


Jerdine Nolen has written a modern fable about the power of wishes. A young girl wants her father to be home more, but her wish takes an unexpected turn in this story of enduring love between parent and child from an award-winning author and illustrator.

Irene loves her family, especially when her father is home. But Papa is gone a lot, and so Irene makes a wish for him to be with the family more. Her wish comes true in an unexpected way when Papa, who was drinking lemonade in the garden at the exact moment Irene made her wish, swallows a watermelon seed and begins a surprising transformation. Slowly and beautifully, day after day, Irene’s father turns into a tall, stately, and loving tree. Papa is a beautiful tree, but Irene wants her real Papa back. How could Irene have made such a wish, and how can she make things right?

illustration from Irene's Wish
illustration from Irene's Wish, copyright A.G. Ford, illustrator


“Irene's papa has a magic touch, and he can make just about anything grow ("Papa always says, 'If a star can grow inside an apple, anything is possible!'"; "'Seeds,' he says, 'are very full of possibilities.'"). His work keeps him quite busy, and the children wish he could spend more time at home playing with them. The man finds out just how far those possibilities can go when Irene accidentally serves him iced tea filled with the kids' secret stash of seeds. He undergoes a radical transformation, and although he is still loved and considered part of the family, his wife and children long for him to return to normal. As she did in Plantzilla (Harcourt, 2002), Nolen proves again her ability to weave nature and life cycles into fanciful stories that children and adults will enjoy. Although Irene's Wish is a bit text-heavy for some newly independent readers, the themes of family, devotion, and the power of wishing will resonate with many. Ford's illustrations, rendered in acrylics and oil, bring life to the action with deep texture and vivid detail. This book will be a perfect family read, tucking many children in for dreams of grand possibility.” (Megan Egbert, Meridian Library District, ID, School Library Journal)

“Luminous, saturated acrylics and oil illustrations create a warm, cozy story of a close-knit African American family who just need a priority reset. Lush green trees, brilliant blue skies with fluffy white clouds, and almost tangible textures throughout, especially when Papa is blooming, will captivate readers. A fanciful, cautionary tale that reminds children to be careful what they wish for.” (Booklist)

Website copyright 2000 - Jerdine Nolen. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Site designed by Winding Oak.
Materials on this website may be copied for classroom or library use but may not be reprinted or resold for commercial purposes.