I Wish




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By Toon Tellegen

Illustrated by Ingrid Godon

Translated from the Dutch by David Colmer


In thirty-three delightful poems by Toon Tellegen, paired with luminous portraits by Ingrid Godon, children wish for courage, a sudden miracle, an extremely unusual pet, or the ability to become a song, hummed by all those in love.

I Wish pairs poems with a gallery of portraits inspired by old-fashioned photographs – faces staring out at us with the serious, veiled expressions of a bygone time. Scattered among the paintings are young children, men and women, and babies, speaking through Toon Tellegen’s yearning poems. Like dozens of confessions poured from the page, the poems present a glittering kaleidoscope of wishes, from imagined feats of heroism to reciprocated human love.

Each face is round as the moon, with small shining eyes that sit curiously far apart...The figures rarely smile. One boy wears a bellhop’s uniform; another, a red jersey and cap. Tellegen’s inward-turned, free verse poems [are] gracefully translated by Colmer...By voicing the fears, angers, and secret desires of the figures, Tellegen spurs readers to embrace those of others, and their own.
Publishers Weekly

I Wish is different. It stays with you. It makes you think. About the depths of others. The fears. The dreams. We will read it again. And again. And again. And keep thinking. Keep discussing. Keep wondering.
Victoria DiMassa and her son T, Glass of Wine, Glass of Milk

A book of prose by Toon Telegen based on illustrations by Ingrid Godon offers timeless musings about life...it will be as simple or as complex as you need it to be for you. What you read in this book of wistful poetic prose is inspired by, and based on portraits with eyes that allow you to peer into delicious intimacy. The portraits themselves look unposed and perfectly candid. It is as if the artist caught her subjects off guard.
Tonika Todorova, Picture This Post

Maybe I was missing my calling in children's poetry because almost every poem in here really hit the mark. Bite-sized and charming despite some it's darker themes and interlaced with whimsical takes on old portraits, I just fell in love. The tone and character of the poetry was full of childlike candor and far more emotion than I anticipated. It is definitely that wonderful mix of happy-sad that warms your heart.
Emily Grace Acres, Reading Acres

This Dutch import pairs portraits with poetry to articulate wrenching individualism, yearning, humor, desires, and pathos ... This probing psychological journey makes for an exciting exploration in empathy.

I Wish is a made up of a series of powerful portraits by the Belgian illustrator Ingrid Godon, accompanied by philosophical meditations written by Toon Tellegen. Surprising in every way, the book has gone through reprint after reprint and was nominated for the prestigious Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 2013
Tzum (The Netherlands)

These thought-provoking poems, which would engender rich discussions with students of all ages, are many things — wild in spirit, vulnerable, touching, and delightfully peculiar.
Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Several years ago Ingrid Godon surprised friend and foe with a series of mysterious portraits of children...Connoisseurs of children's books already knew she was capable of much more than cute animal faces, but with these intimist, realistic portraits she has tapped into an entirely new style. Initially it seemed like I Wish would remain primarily an art project - until the author Toon Tellegen and the designer Kris Demey joined in and turned it into a gem of a book.
De Standaard (Belgium)

Portraits that recall both family photographs and the Dutch and Flemish masters...Texts that reveal imaginary wishes that are far removed from the usual presentations of childhood happiness, speaking too of hurt, fears, lost joy, unfulfilled longing and hopes that might yet be fulfilled...An outstanding example of the literature of childhood, full of wisdom and of a brilliance that calls out for calm, quiet moments to enjoy it
Jury Report, nomination for Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis