can't help but imagine that Jubal is a nickname for Jubilant, because that's exactly what the darling character of Jubal's Wish is one joyful little guy. The book revolves around his compassionate nature, which leads him to the door of one of life's biggest mysteries and challenges.

After a four-year gap in publishing, Don and Audrey Wood are back with a work of love, about love. The opening scene is bedecked with vibrant, undulating rows of flowers complementing not only each other, but also Jubal's happiness. Once again Don Wood soars with the wonder of a child, as he pulls down yet another superlative visual interpretation for wife Audrey's charming story.

After the cheerful opening with Jubal planning a picnic and so happy his "feet barely touch the ground," we find a roaring river threatening to lift the little guy's feet up and away entirely. Jubal is in quite a different frame of mind at this point: He's scared. A wizard offers him the opportunity to make a wish, telling him that, "Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. You never know how they'll turn out in the end." Until you read the end of the book, that is.

The essence of the story can be summed up with this thought: some of us discover things about our friends along the way, which we can either complain about or take to heart; therein lies the risk of friendship. Jubal's an optimist whose chief aim in life is to do what most of us find hard: Jump out of our own skin long enough to think of others first, even at the cost of rejection. As a result, Jubal's little journey turns into a big one that I wouldn't mind taking myself.

June Odette lives in Oregon with people like Jubal.

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