A Comb of Wishes
Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins
Published February 8, 2022
About A Comb of Wishes
Ever since her mother’s death, Kela feels every bit as broken as the shards of glass, known as “mermaid’s tears,” that sparkle on the beaches of St. Rita. But when she discovers a different kind of treasure, she accidentally summons an actual mermaid—the wrathful Ophidia.
Ophidia makes Kela a bargain: her ancient comb, in exchange for a wish. And though Kela knows that what she wants most is her mother back, a wish that big will exact a dangerous price…
The writing in this book hooked me right away. The chapters from Ophidia’s point-of-view are mysterious and otherworldly. Kela’s chapters felt packed with emotion and anchored in the island setting of the town where she lives. I loved the way the author celebrates oral storytelling through A COMB OF WISHES. The chapters from Ophidia’s POV begin and end with a traditional story cue: “Crick. Crack.” The author explains more about this in her guest post at Teen Librarian Toolbox.
The story is as sweet as it is heartbreaking. Kela’s grief over her mom’s death feels raw and real. Her desperation to use her wish to get her mom back makes perfect sense. I felt myself grasping for hope right along with her at every turn. I love the way Kela remains an active character within the story, even though she’s surrounded by adults who have a lot more power and options than she does. She is the one who makes the moves that drive the story forward, and they feel like reasonable things that she could do.
I also loved the way that magic and fantasy are integrated into this contemporary story. I thought that was really well done.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Main characters are Black.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Kela finds a magical comb that belongs to a mermaid. The mermaid offers her a wish for returning the comb to her.
Situations of peril. Kela discovers that her dad’s shop has been broken into and ransacked. A man kidnaps two people. Three people are trapped on a sinking boat.
References to a man who drank too much rum and was cruel.
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