The Wonderful Wishes of B. | Katherin Nolte 


Coming June 4th, 2024 from Random House Books for Young Readers; 163 pages

About the Author: “Katherin Nolte is the celebrated author of Back to the Bright Before, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “a diverting, warmhearted, unusual fantasy.” Her second novel, The Wonderful Wishes of B., will be published in June. Katherin received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow, and her fiction has appeared in dozens of publications and won multiple awards. An Ohio native, she now lives with her husband and four children in Iowa” (Bio from author’s website).

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“I just missed and missed and kept on missing her. Missing is not a thing you can ever run out of. That’s the truth and a point-blank fact.”

After her best friend moves to another state and her grandmother passes away, ten-year-old Beatrice Cornwell is left with eight small cats and five huge wishes. Most of all, Bea wants to become a “Tin Man” and stop feeling all the intense emotions she has been bombarded with every day since her mother was forced to take on the now-struggling salon that her grandmother formerly ran. She doesn’t even care if she must lose her happiness alongside her grief. To uncover the best way to make her wishes come true, Bea begrudgingly teams up with the goofy new kid in town, Caleb Chernavachin. With the eight cats in tow, the two search relentlessly for a magical solution to all of Bea’s problems, facing bullies, witches, and adults who just don’t seem to care.  

I picked up this book for the cats, but I stayed for the character relationships. Both Beatrice and Caleb felt like actual kids with real personalities and flaws. I was deeply invested in the friends-to-lovers arc between Beatrice’s mother and Felix, a neighboring shop owner. Felix’s interactions with Bea felt very genuine, kind, and supportive, which Bea truly needed since her mother was very preoccupied. However, the relationships between the characters were not enough to make this a great book. The author was perpetually trying to do too much. Bea’s five wishes varied drastically in their significance and probability, and it never felt like Bea could figure out her priorities. Furthermore, none of these problems were resolved until the very end of the novel, where they were quickly and easily fixed or dismissed entirely. The pacing was off, and I felt like the author underestimated the intelligence of readers. The many attempts at quirky characters and phrases also detracted from this book. The phrase “the truth and a point-blank fact” occurred twenty-three times! While I love a distinctive character, Bea’s repetitiveness was exhausting. Lastly, I was confused whether this book was intended to feel realistic or fantastical. There are stories where realism can be blurred in an engaging way, but this narrative did not achieve that effect. While the characters are intriguing, this middle grade novel left me feeling unsatisfied, largely due to the undefined magic system and lack of character growth.

The Wonderful Wishes of B. releases on June 4th, 2024.

Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and Random House Books for Young Readers for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.

Ashley Amacher, Pine Reads Review Assistant Director & Lead Editor