From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7 Readers first meet the dream-givers as they creep around a dark house in the middle of the night where an old woman and a dog named Toby are sleeping. Littlest was very small, new to the work, energetic and curious. Fastidious was tired, impatient, and had a headache. Littlest is soon paired with a new partner, Thin Elderly, who is a much better guide and teacher than Fastidious was. They are benevolent beings who visit humans (and pets, too) at night. They handle objects, gather memories, and give them back in the form of happy dreams that comfort and help those they're assigned to. The dream-givers' counterparts are the strong and wicked Sinisteeds, who inflict nightmares and sometimes travel in frightening Hordes. And the humans that Littlest and Thin Elderly care for do need help and protection from bad dreams. The old woman is lonely and has taken in a foster child named John, who's living apart from an abusive father and the fragile mother who desperately wants him back. Lowry's prose is simple and clear. This carefully plotted fantasy has inner logic and conviction. Readers will identify with Littlest, who is discovering her own special talents (her touch is so sensitive and delicate that she is renamed Gossamer). John, who starts his stay in the house with anger and violence, will draw a special kind of sympathy, too. Lowry acknowledges evil in the world, yet still conveys hope and large measures of tenderness. While not quite as compelling as The Giver
(Houghton, 1993), this is a beautiful novel with an intriguing premise. Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
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Gr. 5-8. Littlest One is a delicate, invisible spirit who is in training to be a dream-giver, learning to blend fragments of happy memories with fragile details of daily life for people as they sleep. She helps a tormented foster child at night, bestowing healing memories in his dreams. He remembers a button, a broken seashell on a shelf, a book left open, images that fight the sinister Hordes that torment him with nightmares of his father's vicious abuse. Lowry's plain, poetic words speak directly to children about the powerful, ordinary things in everyday life, such as the boy's memory of a baseball game ("the curved line of stitches on the ball and then the high thwacking sound of the hit"); the feel of his dog's silky, warm fur; and the thump of the dog's tail against the floor. Pair this fantasy with Valerie Worth's All the Small Poems
(1995) and with Katherine Paterson's realistic novel, The Great Gilly Hopkins
(1978), about an abused child in loving foster care. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved