Wish Upon a Crawdad

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Modern Age

Wish Upon a Crawdad
Author: Condon, Curtis W.
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1940
Geographic Area: North America
Country: United States
Topics: Great Depression
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Middle Grade, Upper Middle Grade
Format: Chapter Book
Published: 2022

Content Warning
dog death off page

American History > Modern Age > Great Depression

Middle-grade readers will love the colorful characters, lively writing, and nonstop action, laughter, and tears.

Wish Upon a Crawdad takes place at the end of the Great Depression, during the early years of the electrification of rural America. It is told through the eyes of Ruby Mae Ryan, who has never had electricity a day in her life. But that’s about to change.

Ruby isn't your typical depression-era twelve-year-old. For one thing, she's got a jar full of coins, thanks to her crawdad business and other odd jobs. But she doesn't let the money go to her head. She's too busy trying to make more. That's because she's got something special in mind, and time is running out. So, Ruby calls on crawdads for help.

A lot of people wish on the first star at night. Ruby does that, too, but she also wishes on the first crawdad of the day. She figures the odds are better. "Not many folks wish upon a crawdad," Ruby says. To convince doubters of their magic, Ruby points to the new electric cooperative and the coming of electricity. She credits those two things to wishing on crawdads.

Ruby wants her latest wish so badly she won’t even say what it is out loud, afraid that might jinx the wish. Instead, Ruby calls it her “secret surprise.” The only other people who know about it are Daddy and her best friend, Virginia. And they’ll never tell. Or will they??

Wish Upon a Crawdad is all about friendship and adversity, courage and fear, heartbreak and triumph, and the story has as many channels and curves as the creek running through it. Along the way, Ruby searches for a legendary place called Crawdad Haven, kisses a barnyard animal, "dances" with an angry dog, escapes death, and even has a chance encounter with a famous dignitary. Not bad for a spirited, crawdad-catching girl from farm country.

Emily's Reivew

This was such a fun read. Sometimes a book has a great plot and a lot of action, and sometimes it's a quiet slice-of-life story with great characters. This book is the latter, so if you are looking for an action-packed story, this probably isn't it. But I absolutely loved reading this book. Ruby is such a great protagonist with a lot of spunk. She's saving up money for a surprise, and so the story revolves around her working odd jobs over the summer. I loved reading about her adventures and friendships. I love stories where I get to experience life in a different place and time. This book transported me to 1940 Oregon, where I was able to see what it was like to be a 12-year-old kid living on a farm and having simple adventures.

There were lots of great rabbit trails here too - you can learn about crawdads (catching crawdads is a huge part of the story), electricity (Ruby's family is excited about the electric co-op they are part of so they can bring electricity to their valley for the first time), money and inflation (she talks about the money she's saving quite a lot as well as how much she makes at each odd job), President Hoover (who she gets to meet in this story!).

This was a very sweet and innocent middle grade, perfect for kids who are just getting into reading chapter books!

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