Well Wished

Title: Well Wished
Author: Franny Billingsley
Pub Date: 1997
Pages: 170
Genre: Middle Grades, Fairy Tales

"A coin for passage to your heart's desire. That is the first rule. One wish each lifetime; one cycle of the moon to repent and call it back. That is the second rule. And for the cycle of the moon, your lips are locked in this: To no one may you speak of your wish. To no one but to me, for your wish is my wish too. That is the third rule."

I almost overlooked this gem of a book, but as it happened, I was looking through books on my bookshelves in the classroom searching out fairy tales when I stumbled upon it.** I've been on a fairy tale kick recently and this definitely teased my palate.

Nuria is the self-proclaimed princess in this tale. Orphaned and passed around her family, she finally finds love and a home with the Avery, her grandfather. Nuria loves her life and her town, but wishes more than anything that there were other children for her to play with. You see, many moons ago, an individual made a wish that caused all of the children of the town to disappear at the wishing well. The Wishing Well is forbidden because it's a mischievous being that likes to twist and turn wishes and cause them to go awry. One must be adept at language and precise in what one is wishing for. Which is why the Avery decides to undo the previous wish that lost all of the children.

Things look to be turning up for Nuria and the town. Catty and her family are the first to be swooshed back to town. Catty is in a wheelchair and has been since the children first disappeared. She wants more than anything to have the use of her legs back. And despite of the Avery's rules and convictions, and despite of Nuria's promise, Nuria gives into Catty and makes a wish.

This wish wreaks havoc in the lives of Catty and Nuria as Nuria's wish gets manipulated by the well and the rest of the tale is how the girls resolve the problem.

This is beautifully written and I'm so glad that I read it (as before-mentioned!) Billingsley has an amazing way of capturing how young girls would actually interact and communicate with one and another. For instance, there's a scene where the girls are going to act out a play of the Snow Queen at the Revels (what I took as a New Year celebration). Both girls, of course, want to play the role of the beautiful maiden rather than the boy whose heart turns to ice. Their petulance and manipulations and pouts transported me back to my uncharming moments as a bratty girl in the neighborhood.

Plus, both girls were so life-like that I didn't adore either one of them. They were both self-centered and obnoxious in that elementary it's all me sorta way. Catty couldn't look passed her desire to run and play regardless of anyone's fate and Nuria was so insecure of losing the love of the Avery that she couldn't share the special moments they had together. But, just like any other girls bickering, the next five minutes they've made up and are besties once more. Seriously. Billingsley did a PHENOMENAL job creating these three-dimensional characters!

I looked up Billingsley to see if she had written anything else, and it appears she's only written one other book: The Folk Keeper. I've added it to my bookmooch list because I would absolutely adore to read this one as well. I'm surprised she hasn't written anything else. Surprised and a bit disappointed. (You should definitely check out her website, it's adorable!)

If you're in the mood for a fairy tale, and a quick read, then I'd recommend this one for sure.

** I don't always read the books that I put on in my class library. I have four full bookshelves. I do, however, make sure that they are either in our school library or I've looked them upon the internet and they are age appropriate.


  1. This seems to be a fairytale gem that has passed by us all. I shall add it to my list.

  2. I've been dying to read both this and The Folk Keeper ever since I read about them in A Short History of Fantasy. I'm glad to hear it's as wonderful as it sounded!

  3. Vivienne - I hope you read it. I think that you'll definitely enjoy it.

    Amanda - Isn't it? I'd love to have that as a wall hanging.

    Ana - I just picked up the Folk Keeper!! It's on my summer list.


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