The Wishkeeper’s Apprentice

The Wishkeeper’s Apprentice
Rachel Chivers Khoo, illustrated by Rachel Sanson
Walker Books

This debut novel is a tale of belonging, wishes, family and self-belief. set in a magical world of wishkeeping.

One day when his sister hasn’t turned up to collect him, feeling lonelier than ever, ten year old Felix Jones tosses a penny into Whittelstone’s wish fountain and makes a wish. To his surprise almost immediately he notices a very unusual man fishing for his coin in the fountain. It turns out that this is none other than the town’s wishkeeper, Rupus Beewinkle, who shows surprise that Felix can see him and then invites the boy to partake of some hot chocolate with him. It’s then that the elderly man reveals his identity and announces that Felix is to become his apprentice saying, “The future of Whittlestone depends on you helping me. And I do believe fate has brought us together.”

Thus begins a new education for Felix who takes home the book Rupus gives him entitled A Complete Guide to Wishkeeping and that evening begins reading it.

Well, Felix had been wishing that things were different and now perhaps he’s got his wish. There are new things to learn about such as wish grades from one (‘highly suitable’) to four (‘ungrantable’); but he also learns of the malevolent presence of the Wishsnatcher. This menacing being is intent on reversing existing wishes and preventing any future ones being made.

A wishless world is a very bleak place with inconceivable threats to Rupus, Felix and indeed Whittlestone town. Felix has a quest: to fight for good: what a roller-coaster of a ride he’s embarked on.

The imagery in the story is superb: Rupus’s home, Snugwarm, is chaotic but has lots of unlikely magical objects including a wishofax machine, the vanquisher (fire extinguisher to defeat the villain), and the messaging wishfulness gauge.

Emerging above all from the book are the comments Rupus makes to Felix, “I remembered there is more to life than darkness and despair’ and “A creature capable of great wonders could turn into the greatest monster of all when deprived of hope.” Pertinent in our world assuredly and vital for today’s young readers.

Add to Rachel Chivers Khoo’s superb storytelling, Rachel Sanson’s black and white visuals, which add even more sparkle to this book: it’s a cracker either shared with a class or as a solo read.

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