The Wish and the Peacock

Shadow Mountain. Feb. 2020. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781629726083.
Gr 4-6–Red-haired and freckled Paige searches for a lost shovel, a symbol of her struggles in dealing with the loss that follows. Paige’s life is upside down; her father died some months earlier in a car accident, leading to her mother and Grandpa deciding to sell their family farm. The appearance of a peacock is as startling as its disappearance. A real estate agent becomes the focus of Paige’s antagonism, while she is afforded help by a reporter ostensibly there to research farms folding to developers—but who also happens to have an interest in peacocks. The farm is an odd one; while seeming to be focused on potatoes, it also has cattle, horses, pigs, and chickens. There’s a greenhouse which features in the loss of a plant entrusted to Paige’s care by good friend Mateo, who along with girlfriend Kimana, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe, diversify the cast. Their school bus stops at the Sho-ban Reservation, though Paige is not a member. An 80-acre farm in Idaho seems pretty small for all that this one seems to encompass. Most of the chores and animals are not distinct with the exception of Milkshake, a cow who delivers her calf later than most, requiring intense knowledge and effort from Paige. The ending undercuts most of the message about accepting limitations that Paige has had to learn, but brings in the wish element nicely.
VERDICT Despite a lack of focus, this may be a useful mirror for contemporary rural kids, but its characters provide more of the appeal than the busy plot.

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