book cover The Wishing Cupboard
by Libby Hathorn

Picture book | 36 pp | Years 24

Getting Started

Purchase Book
Please visit our new
online bookshop
to place order!


[ Overview | Author profile | Illustrator profile | Focus questions ]


As Tran waits for his mother's return from Vietnam to fetch his young cousin, his Grandmother shares the contents of her special cupboard. It is full of treasures that reflect her hopes, dreams and memories. A special place in the cupboard has been set aside for Tran and he is invited to place a number of items in it that reflect how much his family care for each other.

The Wishing Cupboard is a story about the importance of family. The book explores the sadness of families who have been separated over time and space and shows how hope, wishes and action can reunite loved ones.

The pastel illustrations in The Wishing Cupboard capture the care and compassion shared between family members, as well as the cultural background of the characters. This story is ideally suited to middle primary students exploring the importance of family and culture.

Author profile

Libby Hathorn has written over forty books for children, young adults and teachers and has won a number of awards for her work. Her published books include picture books, short novels, novels for teenagers, and poetry. Some of her stories have been published online and can be read (and played) from her website. Libby currently lives in Sydney. When she is not writing, she is travelling around Australia and overseas to talk about her work with students.

You can find out more about Libby and her books on her website ( The website contains an online version of The Wishing Cupboard ( where you can explore the different drawers and follow the links to read the Vietnamese folktales that Tran's Grandmother has to share. An online review of The Wishing Cupboard is also available on the YARA Older Readers website (

Illustrator profile

Elizabeth Stanley grew up in the country town of Mildura in Victoria and now lives in Chatswood, NSW. She worked as an English teacher, educational psychologist and for the Dromkeen Children's Literature Museum before taking up writing and illustrating for children. Elizabeth has also traveled overseas to such places as Europe, Asia, India and Nepal. Her book, Deliverance of Dancing Bears, won a CBC Honour award. The illustrations in The Wishing Cupboard were created using pastels.

Focus questions

Before reading the book

  • What are wishes? Think about your own wishes. Are there different types of wishes, for example, wishes for yourself, for family and friends, for the world we live in?
  • Why are some wishes easier to satisfy than others?
  • What sort of wishes do you think are the most important?
  • What is your most important wish? Write it down and keep it somewhere private to use later.
  • What is different about this cupboard compared to the sort of cupboard you would see in most homes? What do you think might be behind the doors?
  • What do you think a wishing cupboard could be used for?

During and after reading the book

  • In what ways does Grandma show how important her family is to her?
  • How does the author show us Grandma's feelings for Tran?
  • In what ways does the illustrator provide information on Vietnam, the country Grandma has come from?
  • Why do you think Tran chose a postcard and a lotus flower to place in the cupboard? What do you think the wish was for each item?
  • Most of us have some wishes for things that can be bought or given to us. In what ways were the wishes of Grandma and Tran different from these? How does this make them special?

© Curriculum Corporation 2006