Ideal picture books for very young children--as difficult to compose as lyric poems--appeal to three kinds of readers: the very young child to whom it is introduced, the adult who usually repeats that introduction many times (including at moments of high anxiety or exhaustion), and the child several years later, who is capable of re-reading the book independently. Picture books that appeal to a fourth kind of reader--the grown-up child who looks back to his or her infant library for books to read to a new generation--are what we mean by "classics."
In this last sense, "Wishes for You," freshly published, is a classic waiting to happen. It is written with a purity and dignity of expression that both children and adults (grandparents included) will grasp right away and illustrated with a gentle figuration that is captivating and, sometimes, heartbreaking. This book of "I-wish-for-you"s offers immediate affection to youngsters as well as a plangent element of memory to older ones: it works on the level of "Now!" and of then. Also, the nature of wishing, itself, is presented, quite unusually, as an aspect of human development, rather than, more conventionally, as a pendant to human vanity. Although all the lovely spreads are instantly available to every stage of emotional maturation in reading, no pairing of words and picture is emotionally predictable. Even on many re-readings, the book has wisdom to spare. A treasure.