About the Book
Author: Mary Martha Allen & Deborah Wynne
Genre: Middle grade fantasy/fairy tale
Release date: September 2015
Darkness. Utter blackness. Was this why his mother had refused to let Jack unlock his father’s old trunk? It had been two years since his dad had died, and all Jack could think about was examining whatever treasures were stored inside the beloved trunk. But when he finally lifted the lid, he didn’t just fall in—he fell through it into a pit of rattlesnakes!
Trying to recall his mother’s stories about “the Breath of All Good Things”—anything to shed light on his current situation—Jack wishes he’d paid better attention rather than mock the tales as childish myths…and that he’d waited to enter the trunk with his sister, Lilly, so they could at least face this together.
Like L. Frank Baum’s Oz and C. S. Lewis’s Narnia, M. M. Allen brings to life the fantastical world of Wishapick—a land of courageous animals ruled by a cruel rattlesnake king who has condemned the villagers to live without light. Chosen as the reluctant hero to save the villagers, Jack must face terrifying creatures and overwhelming odds if he wants to help his new friends—and return home himself.
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This book was interesting but it felt like it lacked oomph. It just didn’t draw me in and hold me like I thought it was going to. I know this is for middle graders so I am not holding it to the same standards for depth as I would a young adult and adult book. It still felt like it was missing some depth, though. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it at all; I was curious as to how the story would be resolved but I did not feel like I had to finish the book as soon as possible. I do think middle graders who gravitate toward fantasy will like it, however. There is a suspense element that I think will keep the intended audience’s attention. The main character, Jack, had good development through the story as well. He really matured as the story progressed so I think middle graders will like him by the end. Lilly had faith in the God figure of the story, The Breath of All Good Things, so the faith element is there, just not as strong as it could have been. The side characters were adorable and I think the intended audience will love them. This story just wasn’t for me but I think middle graders who love fantasy will enjoy it. Honestly, I think a big part of it not being a very enjoyable story was the ending. I didn’t like it at all and it really detracted from the rest of the story.
For parents who are cautious about magic: This story includes the mention of spells. Jack is bestowed with a spell, which originates from The Breath of All Good Things, so I would encourage parents cautious in this area to read the book first to decide if it violates their consciences. There is also some violence and mention of injuries but it is not graphic or glorified.
SPOILER ALERT: As I mentioned above, I did not like the ending. At the end of the story, Jack and Lilly come out of the trunk but can’t remember what happened. Jack knows something did happen, then briefly remembers his journey. Honestly, I did not like this. He held onto anger over his father’s death for two years and the journey helped him let go of it. He comes out of the trunk and his anger is gone but he won’t be able to remember the important lessons that led to this. He will not remember how The Breath of All Good Things helped him. I don’t know… It just felt like it erased his growth in character and love for those around him. I just didn’t like it. I would not let this discourage you, though. This is my personal opinion and I recognize that. If you think this will not bother you or the person you may get it for, then I would encourage you to pick it up.
This book was provided through Celebrate Lit, the publisher and author for me to read. The opinions expressed are my own thoughts.
About the Author
Mary Martha Allen, children’s author, and Deborah Wynne singer, songwriter, collaborated in producing the fantasy/fairy tale book, & music Wishapick, Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk. This Middle Grade book and CD won the Moonbeam Gold Award for book & theatrical. Wishapick also won the 5 Star Readers Favorite Award.
MM Allen the author of the acclaimed children’s picture book Let’s Play Ball, is the mother of two adult children, and aunt to twenty three nieces & nephews, including twelve great nieces and nephews. She was a former teacher. She worked extensively in marketing and communications with varied businesses, including Walt Disney’s Buena Vista Records, as well as several non-profits. MM lives in a picturesque northern California town were she enjoys writing, tending to her rose garden and caring for her West Highland Terriers, Peaches, Pip and Daisy.
Mary Martha Allen along with Deborah Wynne produced a podcast in 2020 called; Wishapick – Prayer, Creativity and the Divine. The podcast, hosted by MM, tells the story of God’s work behind the writing of the book and music. MM Allen weaves the back story of Wishapick into a thoughtful message of how prayer, creativity and the Divine gently coexist in our lives. MM believes Prayer is intimate, Creativity is fearless, and the Divine is always giving. MM shares the story along with Deborah’s insight and music in a reflection of love. The podcasts are geared towards, parents, youth ministers, young adults, teachers, aunts and uncles, and all those working with children teaching them about God’s love. These generous back stories about the making of Wishapick confirm her belief that God is good and each of us is an extension of the Divine’s Goodwill. MM believes that each of us will remember we are loved, and then intimate, fearless giving will unfold into our lives.
MM learned to pray at a young age practicing thoughtful traditional, repetitive prayers. She has been a participant and leader of prayer groups, practicing intentional prayer, meditative prayer, lectio divina (scriptural readings & meditation), and contemplative walking prayer, along with the rosary and prayer beads from other cultures. She was an early member and still a participant of Mom’s In Prayer International. MM believes your communication with God is personal and establishing a relationship with the Divine brings peace and enjoyment into your life. This communication with God awakens the goodwill within each of us, which has been there since the beginning of time.
Deborah Wynne created a CD of songs to accompany the novel. Deborah’s extensive talents lie in choral singing, and song composition. Her musical projects include the 2013 album Strands of Gold and 2007 musical Moment of Truth, which she co-wrote and co-produced. For many years Deborah was a member of the well know a cappella ensemble, Quire of Voices. She also sang with the female quartet, Champagne. She continues to sing and compose in Santa Barbara, CA, where she lives with her husband and Sheltie, Gracie, a dog who loves to sing and is particularly inspired by renaissance vocal music.
Deborah was born into a musical, religious family. Music, adoration and holiness were woven together into her heart starting at a very young age. Over the years music has become a form of prayer for Deborah. Whether it be through listening, singing, playing or writing music, she feels deep gratitude for the gifts music offers. For her, music is God breathing love into our hearts. She perceives the creative process as a part of our spiritual ground of being and a delight to access, for within that Holy space where God lives, we touch an aspect of the Divine that is pure beauty. Creativity is a gift from and collaboration with the Divine, an offering of gratitude to God and a prayer of deep thanksgiving.
More from the Authors
Peach Pie In Wishapick
When Deborah and I spoke about Wishapick and the light returning at the end of the story, we acknowledged it was the Garden of Eden reawakening for all the animals in the village of Wishapick. But one small pleasure inserted into the story, brought us much enjoyment. If it was the Garden of Eden what would the animals enjoy eating?
Deborah sang her song that everyone feasted on fresh peach pie. I wrote about the delicious peach pie Mrs. Tumalum had made and how Mr. Tumalum nicked a huge slice of the warm pie. To this day we cannot remember who came up with the idea first, yet the villagers in Wishapick enjoy peach pie. There is no competitiveness or argument about who came up with the idea first or how it happened, neither of us bested the other – it just came about. I cannot credit myself nor does Deborah feel she is responsible for peach pie being in the story of Wishapick. We each have a backstory about peach pie and our enjoyment is sharing the stories between us. Again & again, we find it miraculous and we are thankful.
There is no competition when we pray; there are no best ways to pray, there is no responsibility on how the prayer is to be answered, nor do we need credit for answered prayer. Being human we seek credit, being in enjoyment we move to thanksgiving. When we pray -giving thanks to God is most enjoyable.
Deborah Wynne’s Favorite Peach Crisp Recipe
CINNAMON-OAT PEACH CRISP
- 5 lb. medium peaches (about 12), peeled, sliced 1/2″ thick
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. plus 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 pints vanilla ice cream
Toss peaches, granulated sugar, and 2 Tbsp. flour in a large bowl to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, 30 minutes.
Place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F.
Meanwhile, whisk oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1 cup flour in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add butter. Once it has all been added, increase speed to medium-high and beat until dry ingredients are incorporated (there should be no dry bits left in the bowl), about 3 minutes.
Scrape peaches and any juices into a 13×9″ baking dish. Evenly scatter oat topping over peaches and bake crisp until peaches are soft, fruit juices are bubbling, and topping is a deep golden brown, 60–70 minutes. Transfer baking dish to a wire rack and let crisp cool 1 hour.
Divide among bowls and top with large scoops of ice cream.
Chocolate Pudding in Wishapick
Our protagonist Jack faced the most dangerous rattlesnakes in Wishapick. With inspiration from the “Breath of All Good Things,” a little Jiggery Pokery and adding some Chocolate Pudding Jack implements his plan to return the light to the village of Wishapick.
My fun loving, grandmother, had a motto “let’s enjoy good food.” She was known for her famous chocolate pudding. She and my grandfather made pancakes, chocolate pudding & tea when the cousins gathered together for dinner at their home. A yummy dinner ending with her chocolate pudding – such happiness!
Lilly, Jack’s sister, implemented his idea & carried out the plan. The Magical Crimson Tray was helpful to Lilly, it moved about on its own, pouring the chocolate pudding into the mouths of the dangerous snakes which turned their nasty behaviors – nice.
When I finished writing this chapter, about the chocolate pudding, I took a ride into the country to a little community store, where I had never been before.
I went into the old-fashioned country store and ordered a sandwich. I opened the self -serve fridge to get some water and in front of me was several cups of chocolate pudding. Individual cups of chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream, were lined up right in front of me. I learned later the adorable country store was famous for their chocolate pudding. Full of praise, thanksgiving and joy I had my lunch full of the niceness of God’s surprise. Prayer is calling out to God and listening for the answers. When Jack called out to the “Breath of All Good Things” in Wishapick everything became okay. In our lives when we include God and call out to him, everything will be okay. God can turn the nasty to nice & Christ is always with us.
In memory of my grandmother –
My Grandma Glady Reese’s Famous Chocolate Pudding Recipe.
1 cup sugar
4TBLS four or 3TBLS corn starch
1 large egg (or 2 small ones)
2 cups milk
½ tsp salt
Cook over low heat stirring constantly till it thickens (this can take a while) until it boils, keep stirring.
1 tsp vanilla.
Pour into individual serving dishes or a bowl, let cool to room temperature. put in refrigerator. Serve cold plain or with whipped cream on top.
Taken from the backstory about God working through our lives while we wrote Wishapick, you can listen to all 10 episodes of this backstory of my prayer life & Deborah’s music, on Wishapick youtube – Prayer-Creativity & the Divine.
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 1
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 2
Simple Harvest Reads, May 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
deb’s Book Review, May 3
The Write Escape, May 4
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 4
Through the fire blogs, May 5
For Him and My Family, May 6
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 7
Guild Master, May 7
Inklings and notions, May 10
Blogging With Carol, May 10
Texas Book-aholic, May 11
Lights in a Dark World, May 13
Little Homeschool on the Prairie, May 13
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 14
To celebrate their tour, Mary and Deborah are giving away the grand prize of a Kindle!!
(May be different than one pictured.)
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.