GENIE WISHES (Amulet Books/ABRAMS, April 2013) is a story about fifth grade—highs, lows, and hamster erasers. The Maryland Center for the Book selected the novel to represent Maryland on the 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival's "Great Reads About Great Places" list.
Genie Kunkle may look like your average fifth grader, but she notices things her classmates don’t. When the school year begins, she’s elected class blogger, and it’s her job to record her class’s “wishes, hopes, and dreams.” But Genie has never been the center of attention, and she struggles to find her voice. What should she write about? Her best friend, Sarah, who’s spending more and more time with the boy-crazy new girl? What about the bras, deodorants, shaved legs, and makeup that seem to be all anyone can think about? Then there’s her widower father’s new adventures in dating, and her older brother’s surly new attitude…
As Genie writes the blog entries, she starts to figure out the types of things she wants to express, and her own wishes, hopes, and dreams become clearer with every day.
Here's the book trailer, which features line drawings I created for the book.
"Compassionate, optimistic, and creative, Genie overcomes conflicts with bullies and gossipers with grace and learns that she can find happiness just by being herself. Anxious upper elementary school readers will relate to Genie’s social conflicts and comfort in the book’s uncomplicated, speedy resolutions."
"Girls should identify and mothers should approve of this gentle tale of growing up."
"Here’s to reading about Genie’s sixth-grade year soon."
"The author has a keen eye for the tween girl experience: Genie’s plans for the future involve living right by her best friend and working together as dolphin trainers, while the highlight of her summer is the fact that her other friend just joined the pool. This will no doubt resonate with tween girls, and it has the charm and the discussion fodder to make an excellent mother-daughter book club selection."
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Frank and honest insights into evolving relationships, changing bodies, and secrets."
—School Library Journal
"Occasional spot illustrations by the author add charm, and Dahl accurately portrays the pitfalls of entering adolescence. . . . Overall, this is a charming portrait of a transition year and clearly shows the changes a group of children go through."
—Library Media Connection
"Genie Wishes was a fantastic book full of humour and heart. I immediately felt an affinity for Genie, and laughed, cringed, and cheered for her and her classmates as they triumphantly conquer fifth grade."
—Côte Saint-Luc Public Library
"Author Elisabeth Dahl writes a funny and warm story about facing the many challenges that tweens on the edge of adolescence face every day. Dahl can definitely be compared to Judy Blume; her presentation is humorous and direct."
—Sweet on Books
"Despite the challenges [Genie] faces, she's honest, engaging, authentic, and funny."
—Richard Gawel, NorthJersey.com
"Finally. FINALLY, someone has taken up the Judy Blume mantle of tackling all the complexities of pre-teen life."
"Dahl does an excellent job of conveying the struggles of a realistic tween learning to accept change and make decisions, both fluffy and weighty."
—Baltimore County Public Library
"This debut was a sneak-up-on-you charmer and I'm happy to have spent the year with Genie."
—Jane J, Madison Public Library
"This is not just a book about keeping a blog; it’s also a story about surviving fifth grade without becoming a bully, a drama queen, or a victim. Girls in grades 4 to 7 will find a kindred spirit in Genie, and after reading her story, they might just feel more ready to take on the world themselves."
—Katie Fitzgerald, Secrets & Sharing Soda
"Elisabeth Dahl address[es] issues of puberty, a word she points out that kids hate, with a deft hand: Genie starts shaving her legs, using deodorant, and wearing a bra over the course of the book, but Dahl doesn’t linger on those events, as a kid would hope an adult wouldn’t. Overall, it’s a nice book for tweens."
—Celeste Sollod, STYLE Magazine
"I adored Elisabeth Dahl's Genie Wishes. This funny, sweet, authentic, and often surprisingly poignant novel, captured my heart in ways that I didn't expect."
—Aeicha, the Word Spelunking blog
"Genie Wishes paints a tender portrait of a trying time for girls—that place between childhood and teen-dom . . . It’s impossible not to root for Genie."
—Ciaran Blumenfeld, founder of momfluential.net
"My wish: That Genie Haddock Kunkle were real, so I could be friends with her! I love Genie, I love this book, and I can’t wait to read more from Elisabeth Dahl."
—Elissa Brent Weissman, author of Nerd Camp
"In 1984 I was just entering fourth grade. I loved the author Judy Blume and was fortunate to find her book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I felt like this book was almost illicit. It talked about bras, periods, first kisses, boys, etc. I read it over and over – to the point that when I reread it last summer, I remembered the color of the bathing suit she borrowed from her friend. (Yellow) This beautiful book made me feel like I wasn’t alone, which is exactly what I needed.
I recommend it often and, when kids return the book to me they often ask for another book 'just like this one.' Sometimes I would struggle to find a book that gave me the same feeling as this old favorite. Now I have a new book to hand off, Elisabeth Dahl’s Genie Wishes."
—Katherine Sokolowski (at the Nerdy Book Club)
"Featuring an authentic and likeable young heroine with the slightly unfortunate name of Genie Haddock Kunkle, Elisabeth Dahl’s debut Genie Wishes is a charming contemporary story for the middle school crowd."
—YA Book Crush
"GENIE WISHES feels spot-on, recounting the joys and pitfalls of fifth-grade in a realistic manner that manages to be both humorous and poignant."
"I adored Genie and I have a feeling tweens, especially tween girls, will enjoy her story just as much as I did."
—The Sturdy for Common Things blog
"An added bonus are the delightful line drawings sprinkled throughout the book, also by Ms. Dahl; fans of the sketches in Grace Lin's Year of the Dog series will enjoy these little touches."
—Classic Six Books
"Let me tell you about Genie Wishes; I downloaded a copy through netgalley thinking that MundieTween would enjoy. Whoa! Did she enjoy it? I'd say so because she begged, pleaded and promised to help fold all the laundry (not just her own) for the entire year, if only I bought her a hardcopy of the book."
"Genie is a sweet and winsome character. She takes the changes in stride without being overly angsty or callous."
"I think it would be a valuable book for parents to read with their 'tween.' It would be a nice springboard to having some important discussions about social difficulties and adolescent changes. I will be reading it with my own fifth grader."
—Gigi McCallister, The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
A discussion guide is available here.
What's the book about? Who's it for? Why'd I write it? I try to answer a few questions in this video.
Thanks so much for your interest. Genie and I both appreciate it!