What to expect: Loss, Siblings, Fantasy
Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk, written by M.M. Allen, is a fantastical novel filled with some mystery and a touch of magic. It deals primarily with loss and healing. The creativity of the writing and the imaginative storyline remind the reader of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. There are also many interesting animal characters like those found in Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox: a possum family, rattlesnakes, a skunk, and a wolf.
Readers are introduced to the world of Wishapick when Jack unlocks a forbidden black trunk and feels the deep urge to jump in. Although he knows he shouldn’t do it, Jack cannot resist. What he discovers deep inside the trunk is a realm that was once filled with love and light, but is now filled with darkness. The animals of Wishapick have been expecting Jack and need him to find an amulet and remember the special word his mother taught him that means “the Breath of All Good Things.” Remembering the special word will restore the light in Wishapick that has been taken away by the rattle snake king. Hostage to his own dark feelings, Jack doubts he will find the amulet and remember the name of the breath. Little does Jack know, his pesky sister Lily has followed him into the trunk. Although unexpected by the animals of Wishapick, she may be just the key that Jack needs to restore the light in Wishapick. Lily is also essential to helping Jack deal with the loss of his father. As Jack works through his emotions and deals with his loss, the plot unfolds clearly.
M.M. Allen’s descriptive writing appeals to all senses as she provides visual clues that allow readers to easily summon the scenes to mind. The chapters are short and concise which makes this a nice choice for reading aloud to a classroom or for those that are fairly new to chapter books. Although Jack is the main character, Allen switches up the perspective between Jack and Lily, which helps to propel the plot and adds interest for both girl and boy readers. There are elements that may feel scary to some, such as a battle with rattlesnakes, however, these moments of action are quick and to the point.
In addition to the novel, there is also a music CD by Deborah Wynne (sold separately) that allows readers a deeper look into the characters and story. The music is lovely and mystical with a forest feel—one might imagine listening to the CD while in a store that sells beautiful crystal rocks and woody scented candles.
While Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk, at its core, is about trauma and anger and sadness, it serves as a lovely reminder not to let dark feelings overtake life. In essence, this story is also a reminder to readers that stories are a great place to go for a safe escape from reality—the light can shine through even after the darkest days. Because the core is disguised in a breathy and fantastical storytelling style, imaginations will flourish and the tale will be enjoyed by kids ages 8-12 who enjoy the genre of fantasy.
Add this book to your collection: Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
Wishapick – Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
Reviewed by: Children’s Book Review
Review by: Dick Leonardo
I recently read a book “Alice: Lewis Of course it’s about just what the title says. As I was reading it I was reminded of a book that was sent to me that I started but got sidetracked with other stuff, so I immediately went back to it. Why would “Alice” remind me of this new book? What Book?
Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
"INSIDE THIS TRUNK THERE ARE SECRETS HID AND IF YOU SHOULD OPEN JUST CLOSE THE LID”
Wishapick is 150 pages of fantastical adventure. A world of talking Possums, Skunks an evil Rattlesnake King not to mention a hungry Wolf that’s on a soft food diet because of recent dental surgery. No Cheshire cats or Queen of Hearts but plenty of other interesting Characters and creatures that you’ll learn to love.
Yep! His curiosity certainly did get the better of him. Was he supposed to open the Trunk? NOPE!
Along with other assorted creatures this is the world young Jack was destined for. Was this the one the creatures of Wishapick have been waiting for? The one to bring the light back to their world? To defeat the evil King O’Sirus? This young Boy?
As Jack Disappears into the mysterious trunk with his sister Lily in pursuit, They find themselves involved in a whimsical, enchanting adventure and learn there might be more to Mom and Dad than they realized . If only he listened a little more closely to mom’s stories if only he took them a little more seriously maybe he could remember. At the time he just thought they were fairy tales. Little did he know.
Author MM Allen, has created a new and entertaining Fairy tale. It will bring children’s imagination alive. A little scary in the beginning (snakes yuk) but a great, fun adventure. Truly a very good story that will keep the reader captivated to the end. I love the fact that it has a music cd available too.
Kind of like Alice. In a strange and magical world in order to get home Jack and Lily the reluctant heroes must complete their quest and save their new friends. It shows that with a little or maybe a lot of effort you can accomplish that goal which seemed impossible in the beginning.
The next classic Fairy Tale- Wishapick Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
“The Breath of All Good Things”
Along with the book is a brilliant Cd by Deborah Wynne. Beautiful sounding music to go along with the story or to listen by itself. Deborah did a great job with the music, The songs and her voice are a perfect addition to bring the story alive. Deborah Wynne created the companion CD of songs to accompany Wishapick –
“Jiggery pokery tra-la-la”
People of all ages who are young at heart will be captivated by this book. Although aimed at kids in Middle School and even younger, it is truly a book for all readers who love magical scenes, scary adventures, and a fast pace. Most importantly, throughout this book we follow the Spell of Goodwill that, even in times of adversity, elicits random acts of kindness among the characters. The story is set in the DARK and what could be more spooky than that? Although the tale revolves around Jack and Lilly, one cannot help but fall in love with the possums, skunk, a kind wolf, and other creatures, eventually even rattlesnakes. MM Allen is masterful in creating a highly imaginative, lively/scary tale that moves along with such energy and exuberance that one cannot put the book down. Almost every page reveals a surprise that creates excitement about finding out what is coming next.
Complementing the high quality of professionalism in this book is a CD of equally professional caliber containing a creative set of songs that reflect the story in music. Not only is the music a joy to listen to, the text and singing are also absolutely first class. This story and its songs will be treasured today and maintain this status in literature for generations to come.
A salute of thanks to the author MM Allen and to the musical composer Deborah Wynne for giving us such a highly original gem of a fairytale.
Review by J. Mary Taylor, Ph.D., author and biologist
Reviewed by Jack Magnus - ★★★★★
Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk is a children's adventure fantasy written by M.M. Allen. It's been two years since Jack's father died, and Jack's still angry about it. He misses his dad and the adventures they used to have together. His sister, Lilly, is a bit of a nuisance, and his mother just doesn't understand or appreciate what Jack's going through or is interested in. The black steamer trunk is a good example of that. It's been sitting there locked away, and his mother won't let him have the key to open it, despite the fact that Jack's father always said that they'd open it together. When Lilly shows Jack the key on a day when their mother is away, Jack knows instantly what he wants to do. Lilly had overheard their mother discussing the key's hiding place and figured that she'd be in on the adventure, but Jack is determined to open the steamer trunk on his own.
M.M. Allen's fantasy adventure story for children, Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk, is an exciting and original tale about a brother and sister who discover a hidden world inside of a black steamer trunk. Jack and Lilly are marvelous characters who are joined in their quest by a grand cast of denizens of that world, who also happen to be animals. I think my favorite has to be the wolf, Winston, whose bad teeth cause him to spend too much time in the dentist's chair, and his sweetheart, Miss Bailey, the dentist assistant, who just happens to be a skunk. Allen's story is well plotted and fast-paced, and her use of imagery and description makes the world of Wishapick and its inhabitants come alive. Allen's story is accompanied by a CD containing a musical score and a collection of songs written and performed by Deborah Wynne. Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk is recommended for young fans of the fantasy genre.
Jack tried to recollect his memories once again. He was inside a cave-and everything was pitch black around him.He could not see anything-only his senses are telling him that something horribly unpleasant is going to happen.What he could think was that he had opened the lid of the trunk-it was a free fall for him through the trunk, like he had fallen for eternity and now he is there –a sensation of chill is passing through his spine. He can feel rattling –a rattle snake? How could it be? Will the end come this way? Away from family-nobody knows whether-the venom of poisonous snakes will make him blue.Soon, he realized that not one-but countless baby rattlers are crawling-crawling around him. Suddenly he felt the ground below him trembling. The baby rattlers were away from his body. It was a sensation of relief for him-but it was too short lived. Soon in the flickering light he can see a monstrous snake-a rattlesnake of the size of a gigantic python! Its head looked larger than a soccer ball-all he could see were two cruel eyes looking at him-like two burning coals.The gaze is hypnotizing-soon he is going to lose consciousness!
Wishapick (Touched by the Spell) by M.M.Alllen is an absorbing tale of fantasy-a type of tale that has mesmerized the younger generations for thousands of years-classic, timeless. It is a story where the reality of rattlesnakes has been merged into fables, where small innocent possums lead an uprising …… it has a flavor of its own!
Jack’s father has gone to the stars and with his father gone from his life the fun, the adventure and the joy has disappeared. Life is now so boooring! He was irritated when his mother told him the story of the ‘breath of all good things.’ Is it possible? Can there be existence of such a ridiculous thing? He does not believe and gets more itchy seeing that his little sister does believe it in her heart! But he loved the mysterious gigantic black trunk in their house. It is locked and never got opened by their mother. Its contents are shrouded in mystery. What could be inside? Jewels of Cleopatra-sword of Julius Caesar-or the harp of Athena-anything can be inside. He thought and thought-but there is a limit to imagination. When he got fed up with imagination, he decided to open it up. Secretly-of course, as his mother would have never allowed him to do this. And what happened is entirely beyond his guess-
“With a loud creak, the lid opened up. Jack edged away from the trunk. He felt a soft breeze blow over him. He stepped back close to the trunk. The breeze, warm and inviting, was coming from inside. He peered in; nothing to see-it was pitch- black. Then he saw tiny lights, little stars, deep in the trunk, but he couldn’t see the bottom. He felt an uncontrollable urge to jump into the trunk.” And, eventually heart won over the brain –and he jumped. Is it a fall like the fall through the rabbit hole? Or he fell to another time-the trunk opens the doorway to time travel?
And what has happened to his little sister in the meantime. Well-some strange happenings were around her-which is best enjoyed when read from the original text-so I will not go into details. But after some events and anti-events-just like matter and anti-matter-she discovered herself by the edge of the trunk, open and inviting, and a ladder is prepared there which takes her into the deepth of mystery. She accepted the invitation.
Both have landed in the strange kingdom of Wishapick-but to different locations-after all, it is ‘wish-a-pick.’ Jack –as we already know is in the den of the mighty king –the lord of the rattlesnakes- O’Sirus, while his little sister has landed on the pathway of Dr. Tumalum-the possum and the dentist of the kingdom. As both Jack and Lilly go on to discover- the king is on a dangerous ploy. He is in a mad game to cover the whole kingdom with darkness. A deep melancholy has now covered the entire kingdom. When there is no light- can there be happiness? The only hope to the subjects of the kingdom is the queen-who is a source of light herself and lights the gardens of the subjects when there is no king’s man to look around. “When the dark came upon us so quickly, many of us were frightened. We didn’t understand why it had come. Many who lived in Wishapick all their lives ran away in fear, and we forgot the name. In the beginning of the dark days, some of us remembered. But we thought we had been completely abandoned, and eventually all memory of the name was known was lost to us, and we quickly forgot how to summon the Breath. Some are chosen to always remember the name, even if they can’t recall it in a particular moment, it will come back to them through the Breath.”
But things are getting hot-as the mighty powerful king with his army of hawks and royal guards and legendary Toves proves out to be too strong compared to the subjects. But it is a fact of life for the residents -either- defend or get wiped out! Against the magical might of the king-they too now have a weapon-Jack-whose destiny is to help them out in this magical battle. Here magic will meet magic-as iron cuts iron-with the help of the Breath of all Good Things. Now the question is-will Jack believe in himself?
Allen has created some absolutely adorable characters-imposing human characteristics in their nature has imparted a new dimension to her storytelling. However, after finishing the book one idea has crossed my mind. In our minds lives evil intent like, King O’Sirus. He always wants our mind to remain in darkness! And there is a continuous struggle between darkness and light-ignorance and knowledge.The struggle has probably started from the dawn of civilization.
And who should win? Well-it is up to you to decide.
Grab a copy at
Reviewed by: jayasree's
A new dimension in review - To the kingdom of darkness
MM Allen’s new book, Wishapick, Tickety Boo and the Black trunk, is a timeless tale which takes young readers on a breathtaking adventure. MM weaves a tapestry made of adversity, hope that cannot be extinguished. It hints of a mysterious secret that is hidden just beneath the surface of our hero’s consciousness. It’s a tale of courage and hope with loveable characters that quickly become cherished friends. The book has a companion CD with original music and lyrics by Deborah Wynne. While the book can stand solidly on its own, the music works hand and glove with the storyline and vividly brings it to life. Listeners of all ages will experience the story and characters through delightful vocals and catchy melodies that are beautifully and imaginatively orchestrated. Like the story itself, the songs take listeners on a journey that is at times humorous and at other moments dramatic, whimsical and inspirational. Mark my words the book is destined to become a children’s classic that will be made into an animated movie with songs that will be enjoyed for generations.
An exceptionally well written and original entertainment for young readers, "Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk" is very highly recommended for personal, school, and community library children's fiction collections. It should be noted that there is a companion music CD, 'Wishapick', available for purchase or download.
Review by Barbara Ann Mojica
Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk by M. M. Allen is an action-packed middle grade novel that will intrigue kids of all ages!
What I Loved About This Book
Wishapick is full of action! From the first chapter, you are taken on a journey into the unknown that is wild and unexpected. This book held my interest because there was always something happening, and I never knew what the next step would be. This book is great for kids who crave excitement. I think this would be great for reluctant readers, because they don’t have to wait through chapters of description for something interesting to happen.
I also really enjoyed the animal characters of Wishapick.They came alive in my mind! I fell in love with Winston, Miss Bailey, and the Tumalum’s, and was properly terrified by the
Finally, I couldn’t help but love little Lilly. She was so full of energy and excitement, and was ready to go wherever her adventure in Wishapick would take her. She was brave and a little brash in a way that all great female characters should be. I think lots of little girls will fall in love with Lilly like I did!
What I Didn’t
The main character Jack can be, well, a bit of a grump. He’s a young boy still dealing with the loss of his dad, so it’s understandable. However, sometimes he still got on my nerves a little. That being said, Jack’s growth over the course of the book is an enjoyable thing to watch.
The action, great characters, and valuable lessons in Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk make it a great choice for young readers. Those reading chapter books will love to enjoy this one on their own, and younger readers will enjoy the story as a read-aloud with an adult. If your children love fantasy, magic, and exciting tales, be sure to add Wishapick to your list.
Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk is 168 pages and is published by Possum Press.
Touched by the Gift of Goodwill
“MM thank you for taking me on a pleasure cruise of imagination and warm heart-beats. I’ll always look under sun-dials now! Wishapick’s deepest quality is the crazy wisdom at the center. Plus your brilliant cast of archetypes. The story found its C3PO; the Crimson Tray. Like a gift- Jiggery Pokery! The music is magical and fantastical. I have been touched by the spell.”
In the time-honored tradition of great stories like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Alice in Wonderland, or the more recent Coraline, the journey to Wishapick begins with a trip through a portal. Our protagonist, Jack, seems stuck in the anger phase of grief over his father's death. He feels that his mother is treating him as a child. One source of contention is his father's black trunk. Jack and his father had planned to open it together, but now his mother has hidden the key and won't let Jack see what is inside. He is also irritated by his little sister Lilly, whom he considers bothersome. When Lilly shows Jack the key to the trunk, he takes it from her and opens it alone, finding the entrance to Wishapick. In a fall similar to Alice's tumble down the rabbit hole, Jack's impetuous leap into the trunk causes him to go falling down a tunnel in the dark until he lands on soggy ground.
Jack discovers he has entered the land of Wishapick, a place that has been trapped in darkness. The inhabitants have even forgotten how to call upon "the Breath of All Good Things" because they have been in the dark so long. King O'Sirus has become so caught up in anger over his father's death that he has plunged his entire kingdom into darkness, even forbidding his wife, Queen Sanctuary, to share the light she generates with those outside the royal gardens. Can Jack overcome his own negativity and help restore light to Wishapick and find a way home for himself and Lilly (who has followed him into the trunk as any younger sibling would)?
Although it is a land trapped in a seemingly endless night, the author uses many sensory images to help readers visualize the setting and action. We can easily imagine reaching out and touching a muddy tunnel wall, or the terror we would feel if we heard the sound of rattlesnakes approaching us in the dark. Against the darkness, the light of the small torches the animals use to light the pathways and the blazing fireplace in the Possums' home shine more brightly by contrast. The bright and cozy colors of everything from running shoes and tea cozies to the paint on doors and shutters offer a homey comfort. And there are the smells that evoke a sense of belonging and contentment: fresh baked peach pie, warm chocolate pudding, and nice hot tea.
The king's anger and the resulting darkness are mirrored in Jack's grief and anger about his own father, but there is still hope that Jack will give up his dark thoughts and move on in life. Despite this deep theme, there is plenty of humor to offset it. How can anyone resist laughing at the Possum Family roll call? (It somehow reminded me of the Brady Bunch or perhaps the Partridge Family, especially when they all call out, "We're the possum fam-a-lee.") The scene with Winston the wolf being admonished to remember that he is on a soft food diet will also cause some giggles. Overall, Wishapick is a story of life and how we all must continue on and not give in to negativity, or we will snuff out the light of all those around us.
Many books recently have begun to use a multi-platform style, packaging the story as a book plus online experiences such as clue hunts and video clips to appeal to the digital natives in the audience. Author M.M. Allen and collaborator Deborah Wynne have chosen instead to rely on the storytelling power of music and lyrics to enhance the tale. The companion CD weaves its own spell, bringing the characters to life by using the perfect vocals and accompaniment to suit the personality and actions of the Possum Family, the King and Queen, the Victory Eagles, and other key players. Lines from the songs are quoted at the beginning of many chapters and after listening to the songs, you may find yourself humming the tunes as you read.
Once you give yourself over to the experience of Wishapick and the story of Jack and Lilly's time there, you will be transported through your own portal into a magical place where grief can be overcome and new friends are there to help you succeed. As Jack's father would advise: "Wait and be patient...The landscape will change." All dark times eventually come to an end, and that is what makes the sunshine even sweeter.
Wishapick Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
Written by M.M. Allen
Wishapick Music and Lyrics by Deborah Wynne
I agreed to review this book as part of a blog tour, and was really delighted once I opened it. Targeted for a middle grade audience of 9-12 year old children, this well-written book contains elements of adventure, fantasy, magic and humor in just the right combination.
Jack and his younger sister Lilly are the main protagonists. Since his father’s death two years before, Jack has remained angry and sullen. In the opening scene, readers feel this tension between them when Lilly accidentally breaks the spy drone Jack has built for a science project. But Lilly has a surprise for Jack; she has overheard their mother talking on the phone and now knows the location of the key that will open the mysterious black trunk his father left behind. Their mother has expressly forbidden them to open it. Jack cannot contain his curiosity. When he opens the trunk he falls inside, and down into a black hole surrounded by snakes. Unknown to Jack, Lilly follows him inside. So the adventure begins….
The siblings will meet a fascinating cast of animal characters including snakes, possums, skunks, and wolves. They will learn the meaning of their mother’s mantra, “Breath of all good things.” The mystery of their father’s death will be revealed, and they will discover the value of embracing hope versus despair, while displaying courage and teamwork.
This book reminds me a bit of Charlotte’s Web and Alice through the Looking Glass, but this plot is unique and the language colorful. Length of the book is under 150 pages, one that I feel is just right for a middle grade audience. As a bonus, readers may purchase a companion CD with music that matches the various moods and scenarios presented in the book. Listening to the music and closing one’s eyes, the reader can easily feel transported inside a Disney movie.
I highly recommend this Five Star Readers’ Favorite book to middle grade readers interested in a humorous, imaginative adventure fusing realistic and magical elements with characters with whom they can easily empathize. Librarians and teachers could use this book as a read aloud to open up discussion on many topics relevant to this audience.