The Wish Giver Themes, Symbols, and Motifs

The Wish Giver Themes, Symbols, and Motifs
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The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain Activities

The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain

Lesson Plans by Liane Hicks

The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain is a classic novel written in 1983. It is set in the fictional town of Coven Tree in New England, which has seen magic many times before but nothing like this! Three children, Polly, Rowena, and Adam, along with local shop owner Stew Meat encounter the mysterious and sharp eyed Thaddeus Blinn at the church fair. He is offering to grant whatever wish they desire for a mere 50 cents. What follows is the time old lesson about being careful what you wish for!


The Wish Giver

Storyboard Description

Students can track the different themes, symbols and motifs present in The Wish Giver and create a spider map to illustrate examples

Storyboard Text

  • CON-ARTISTS
  • "Oh, Henry, whatever happened to all the nice things you used to tell me ... if I'm at all special to you ... ?"
  • THE COVEN TREE
  • Town of Coven Tree
  • WATER
  • The Wish Giver seems to be somewhat of a con-artist because as his wishes do come true, they always come with a heavy price. However, the main con artist in the story is Henry Piper who lavishes attention on Rowena, enticing her to fall in love with him. Meanwhile, he was only using her to sell more machinery.
  • Special? That's a laugh, I'd have said you were Cleopatra if that's what I had to do. Anything so you'd tell your papa how nice I was and I could sell him more machinery!"
  • The town of Coven Tree is named because of a tree where it is said that a coven of witches used to gather years ago, before the Salem Witch trials. The tree is a recurring feature in the book as it is seen in every episode. It represents the magic that has bewitched characters by the mysterious wish giver.
  • Water is featured in different ways: the creek where Polly plays and catches fish with Lenora and Leland and also in Adam's story. Adam struggles with hauling water every day to his parched family farm. When he wishes for "more water than he needs" instead of the life giving water he was wishing for, he gets destructive water that floods the entire farm and turns it into a lake!
  • THE WISH GIVERThemes, Symbols, & Motifs
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