Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 tests the strength of best friends’ bonds and gives Penny a chance to recognize dangerous and childish behaviour.
Previously in Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #2: It was the day after Christmas when the mysterious box began to ask its question again. “What do you wish for? What do you wish for??” it insisted. This time, to Penny’s best friend, Elizabeth. And that’s where the trouble really began. With Elizabeth’s small, simple wish.
BEWARE THE PRINCESS
Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 is an issue where Michael Stock teaches our protagonist a lesson. Early on in the issue Penny bequeaths the wishing box to her best friend Elizabeth for safe keeping. It’s a move of great trust on her behalf and one that she has concerns about going into the action, but ultimately puts her trust in their bond of friendship and assumes everything is going to turn out for the best.
Stock has immediately tapped into a conflict that really resonated with me (as someone who was once a ten-year-old girl). Elizabeth has been Penny’s closest confidante up to this point in the series and when Stock reveals that she has betrayed Penny’s faith and instruction in the pages of Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 it’s difficult not to get swept away in her righteous anger.
Penny’s anxiety over pushing the responsibility of the Wishing Box’s care spills over in a stunning dream sequence in Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 that is quite reminiscent of Little Nemo in Slumberland. Stock has Penny’s bed sprout legs and carry her out into her neighbourhood where familiar sights and mysteries abound. In essence, by halfway through the issue readers have had events foretold – they’re just packaged up in the wondrous imagination of a ten-year-old girl.
To his credit as a male writer with female protagonist (a very young female protagonist on top of that), Stock’s choices for the anxieties and dream personifications that spring from Penny’s experiences read as very spot on. In her real life dealings she is articulate, if at times moody, charming though a little self-righteous.
He does have Elizabeth wish to be made a princess as the main conflict of Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 which comes across as a touch uninspired. However, the privilege that comes along with this station sets Elizabeth up as a literary foil for Penny. Princess Elizabeth is unreasonable, selfish, a terror and her behaviour forces Penny to not only doubt the wisdom of her choice and her lifelong friendship with Elizabeth (something that is often a dramatic realization for growing children in less fantastical experiences), but accept the responsibility that she has caused this to occur and, by extension, potentially put something dangerous out into the world.
Packaged up in the whimsy of Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 makes Stock’s Greek allegory quite entertaining. This is a great issue for young readers and female readers with clever allusions to some of the earliest literary archetypes.
Sina Grace tackles the art duties for Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 and the result is very, very cute. Penny and Elizabeth are adorable in their respective aesthetics (brunette and blonde, respectively), and they actually look like little girls rather than tiny woman, as sometimes happens with girls or teenaged characters in books from the big two. Even the way Penny stomps across Elizabeth’s yard to confront her best friend speaks to the fact that she is a child alight with righteous indignation.
Grace also excels in the pages of Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 with Elizabeth’s wishes. Her house transforms itself into a stunning castle that is effortlessly reminiscent of many a Disney palace, the monsters that are introduced toward the end of the issue each have very individual character designs that pull from a range of mythologies.
The art of Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 is a good looking issue that is easily the most magical thing about the issue.
THE BOTTOM LINE: GOOD ISSUE FOR A YOUNG AUDIENCE
Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #3 is a great issue for readers who are of a similar age to the protagonist. It’s sweet even when it hits on themes that we’ve seen other places before.