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The Wishkeeper’s Apprentice

Authored by Rachel Chivers Khoo
Illustrated by Rachel Sanson
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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Rupus Beewinkle has a problem. The ageing wishkeeper has taken on too many wishes, and his record-keeping is in a mess. He has received a letter from the Council of Wishkeepers refusing his request for an apprentice and demanding overdue paperwork. But wishkeepers do more than grant wishes. Wishkeepers receive the wishes of humans, risk assess them, grant them, monitor them and most importantly protect them. And all this work is done in secret – the wishkeeper leaves no trace of their existence. It is a terrible mess, and Rupus has lost the twinkle in his eye.

This is when he meets Felix Jones. Felix has his own problem – his older sister Rebecca doesn’t seem to like him anymore. She’s short-tempered and unkind, and Felix wants his loving sister back. One afternoon, after Rebecca has forgotten to pick Felix up, he makes a wish at the town’s fountain, and he notices Rupus. But Felix shouldn’t see Rupus. After all, wishkeepers are entirely invisible to the human eye. But there is a reason for this, Rupus has granted illegal wishes, and this puts both of them in extreme danger. A wishsnatcher is on the loose in Whittlestone. These evil creatures feed off despair. They hate wishes and they hate hope. It is up to Felix and Rupus to save the town, its people and their dreams from this terrifying threat.

This is an enjoyable fantasy story. Rupus and Felix are hugely likeable characters, and they make a great pair. Rupus is chaotic and disorganised. Felix is ordered and sensitive. Short chapters help keep the plot lively, but there are clever twists and turns. Rachel Sanson’s black and white illustrations accompany the narrative well. This is a story about loneliness and friendship, hope and good versus evil.

The Wishkeeper’s Apprentice would make a good read-aloud for end of KS1, lower KS2 classes and a welcome addition to classroom and school libraries. Many readers will relate to the themes of the story, and I think children will thoroughly enjoy the characters’ magical adventures and triumphs.