Fabled flight – the Wishbird


When discussing reading with students over the past weeks, we have often referred to the ability of books to take you different places, on a journey and to put you in someone else’s shoes. After a busy week, that is exactly what I needed – and today’s mode of transport was The Wishbird by Gabrielle Wang.

The Wishbird and tales like it always take me back to the books I used to love as a young reader – of fables, legends and fantasy. Whether it be Greek myths and legends, or Arabian tales, I was wrapt in the possibilities of the heroes and anti-heroes portrayed within. Wang has again taken me to these places, though with her Chinese heritage, she has changed the location.

The tale is told from two viewpoints – that of Boy, a street urchin who survives with his light-fingered talents and answerable to Panther, the Fagin in this tale; and then we hear from Oriole, a waif raised in the wild, but destined to play an important future role in resurrecting a torn kingdom far away.

Though initially alternating between Boy and Oriole, the story entwines their lives, their destinies. Mysteries abound in the novel – what can be real or imagined, interplay. What things are possible, or mystical, or fantastical combine – as the players in the tale seek to find meaning in their own personal histories, and to overcome tragedies of their past within their current circumstances.

The fact that this all occurs within a magical tale, where anything might be possible, is the charm of the Wishbird. Wang narrates mystical events, which are confused by conflict and deception, to weave a tale of courage and strength and trust. The pictures within the story add to its charm, affirming how you ‘think’ you see her descriptions – which is nothing different from the days when I read an illustrated version of the Arabian Nights, way back when…

Imagine a world without music.

Imagine if all the singers and musicians disappeared, never to be seen again. Music is outlawed. Even birds are killed because they sing. And because birds live in forests then the forests all around are burnt to stumps. 

Music is an integral part of human existence. Every culture in the world makes music. Without it, the soul dies.

This is at the heart of The Wishbird.

Comment from: http://gabriellewang.com/books/the-wishbird


To find out more about Gabrielle, the other books she has written and her way of writing, visit http://gabriellewang.com/faq . There is much to inspire the writer within you, and excite the reader looking for more of Gabrielle Wang.

What are some of your favourite fables, fantasy worlds or myths?

How much do you think the character names add to the Wishbird tale? Oriole? Boy? Panther? Mellow?

Gabrielle is also a talented illustrator and has lots to say to encourage the artist within everyone –

Imagine if students were allowed to doodle all the way through school.
Skills with line work and visualization would increase and both sides of the brain would be exercised.
It might turn out to be a very interesting experiment. For more see: http://gabriellewang.com/archives/the-gift-of-doodling

So get out your writing pens and doodling pencils NOW – you never know what may happen.


Writers on writing – Sonya Hartnett

sonya_hartnettSonya Hartnett has been writing since she was very young and had her first book published at the age of 15. She has been recognised by many awards in her writing career, so it was interesting to hear her interviewed for the 702 Bookclub recently, where she told some interesting tales about when and how she writes.

As a successful author, Sonya has many books to her name – one of the most recent being ‘Butterfly’ (reviewed earlier). In this interview, she talks about how she takes on the voice of a teenaged girl in ‘Butterfly’, and tells about how and when she writes each day. Listen to the interview by clicking here.

Since 1995, Sonya has received many accolades for her writing, including awards from the Children’s Book Council of Australia, NSW Premier’s Children’s Award, the Guardian Children’s Award and the Miles Franklin Award. Some of her books have been received with controversy as well (‘Sleeping Dogs’ and ‘All My Dangerous Friends’ among these).

Sonya’s books include (see CMIS Focus on Fiction for more details and titles):

    • the Silver Donkey
    • the Ghost’s Child
    • Thursday’s Child
    • Stripes of the Sidestep Wolf
    • And my personal favourite, Forest.

Why not leave a comment about any of Sonya’s books you have enjoyed, or what you think of her writing style and method? Click on (Comments in the title bar)